Featured, How To Read The Bible (hermeneutics)

Everything in the Bible is True… BUT

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Is The Bible True?

Many Christians get instantly defensive by that question. But it’s one of the most important questions we can ask. 

The Bible is unlike any other book. It’s far and away the most popular book of all time. More copies of the Bible have been sold /distributed than the next 10 books put together. Yet despite its popularity no book has been misused, misunderstood, or collects more dust than the Bible.


The Most Popular Book of All Time


Much of this stems from some misconceptions about the Bible. While the Bible is 100% true, there is a BUT. Rather a few. It’s important that we understand these BUTs so that we can have a better understanding of the Bible and the message it’s communicating. Not only what the Bible is, but also what it isn’t. The BUTs are important. 

Let’s look at some of these BUTs… 

All True, But Not All Equal

Everything in the Bible is true, but not all truths hold the same weight. All truth is not equal, or at least not equally applicable.

Take the book of Acts for example, a great compilation of the history of the early church. It’s a great book, and it’s all true. But it doesn’t hold the same theologically weight as say, the book of Romans. Both books are true, but they must be applied and interpreted very differently.

While everything in the Bible is true, not everything is equally applicable or relevant for every life stage.

Take for example John 3:16-17; this passage is valuable for the young, the old, and the in-betweens. It’s a good truth for a new Christian, someone who’s been a Christian for a long time, and it’s good for people considering following Jesus to know. It gives a concise message of the Gospel. It’s applicable at every age and life stage.

Now compare John 3:16-17 to the Song of Songs. Both are true. But Song of Solomon would be of little use to teach a Sunday School class of 4 year olds. It’s not yet applicable to them, yet. It’s true, but it’s in their life stage they do not need to know the fullness of that truth.

All scripture is true, but not equal. We must evaluate each truth in scripture to discover how we should apply it in our lives.

All True, But Not the Center of Christianity

I might lose some of you on this one. But bare with me.

Everything in the Bible is true, but it’s not the center of Christianity. Nor does it claim to be. Christianity is built upon Jesus (God in flesh), his death for our sins, and most importantly his resurrection conquering death. That’s the center of Christianity.

The Bible is not the center of Christianity, rather it is written about the center of Christianity: Jesus.

Let me be clear. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of the Bible. Rather I want us to have the correct view of scripture. The Christian faith is built upon Jesus, and what he did for us. The Bible contains that story and how we should live in light of what he did.


“Christianity does not exist because of the Bible any more than you exist because of your birth certificate. Your birth certificate documents something that happened. If you lose it you do not go out of existence.”Andy Stanley


We should let the Bible point us and guide us towards Jesus. The Bible is all true, but it’s not the center of faith for Christians.

All True, But Not Comprehensive

Everything in the Bible is true, but not everything that is true is in the Bible. We know this, but sometimes we fail to live like this. If I jump off my roof I know I’m going to fall to the ground and hurt myself. The Bible doesn’t tell me that, but science does. It’s true, but it’s not in the Bible. Truth exists apart from the Bible. I don’t go to my Bible when I’m trying to repair my car. Why? Because that truth is not in there. But that doesn’t make the Bible any less true. It just means that not everything is in the Bible.

Contrary to popular belief the Bible doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. That’s not the purpose of the Bible. The purpose is to tell the story of God redeeming his people and the hope that we have because of what He has done.

Anyone claiming the Bible contains everything you need to know is just wrong. It doesn’t. And that’s not the point of the Bible. The Bible’s goal isn’t to point to ALL truth. What it does is point to the greatest truth, Jesus. The Bible is all true, but all truth is not in the Bible.

All True, But Not the Same Purpose and Style

Everything in the Bible is true, but not everything is written for the same purpose. The Bible is often viewed as one book, but really it’s a compilation of 66 unique books, with different styles, authors, and purposes. You cannot read each book the same.

Genres of Scripture

This is a rough graph that depicts some of the various genres that are found in scripture. Each much be read and interpreted differently. Think of it this way. You don’t read a history textbook the same way you read a book of poetry. One is read as literally truth and the other is an artistic and probably emotional examination of something. They are both useful and needed, but vastly different styles and serve different purposes.

When we approach the Bible we must read each book the way it was intended to be read. Much harm has been done from people claiming because the Bible is all true you should take everything in it literally. You shouldn’t. At least not all of it.

Take the book of Psalms for example. It is a book of poetry and songs and uses exaggerated language to point to a truth. It’s not literally true. We do the same thing today in our songs and poems. Bruno Mars claims that he would catch a grenade, throw his head on a blade, and jump in front of a train for the one he loves. Is that literally true? Probably not. He is exaggerating the truth to point to how deep his love is for that person. The book of Psalms (and all poetry in the Bible) does the same thing.

Each genre needs to be read differently. When a genre of one of the books is historical or Gospel it can be read more literally. When it’s poetry or apocalyptic or prophetic then it shouldn’t be read literal; rather look at the meaning behind the words. And the books of Law and the Letters in the NT need to be read in the context of the audience to which they were written. 

Just as we read modern books in the genre they were written we must do the same with the Bible. If we don’t we will end up with a warped view of the authors original intent. The Bible is all true, but comes in many styles and different purposes. 

For more on how to read the Bible: How to Read the Bible (better)

Is the Bible True?

Yes… But we cannot ignore these “buts”. Without them we will not be able to fully grasp the what the Bible is communicating.

With a better understanding we can read the Bible the way it was meant to be read. And I believe the impact that will make on our individual faith journeys will be huge. Not only that, I believe it will bleed over in how we treat others. If we get rid of some of these misconceptions of the greatest news of all time, it can be better spread to those that desperately need it.

Your turn… What are you thoughts? I’m sure some reading will disagree. I would love to hear from you as well!

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78 Comments

Jeffery Curtis Poor

Husband. Father. Pastor. Writer. Trying to be more like Jesus each day.Follow me: Twitter, Facebook, Email

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    SpaniardVIIIJeffery Curtis PoorWhy The Old Testament Is Not Equal To The New TestamentSpectating – Stepping out in FaithWhat's The Point of the Old Testament Law? - rethink Recent comment authors
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    greggpj2015
    Guest

    Reblogged this on The Biker's Wave and commented:
    Excellent overview of what the Bible is and isn’t. We do not worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Bible – We worship the true Trinity God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

    gracelouise
    Guest
    gracelouise

    A preacher I like says, “The Bible is like a symphony. It has different parts but it all comes together in a beautiful masterpiece.” With that said, the greatest issue I have seen not explained in a way that is helpful nor has been given much thought are the very real questions that go unanswered about following Jesus. I get that if a person is only into following rules then they could be missing the point but many people ernestly wish to know the ways of Jesus. I know the examples you have probably heard they are not new but… Read more »

    greggpj2015
    Guest

    Hi Grace – interesting thoughts. You stated: “I know the examples you have probably heard they are not new but no one has taken serious serious time to explain.” I disagree – look up on YouTube videos by Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, and there are others. As you state, these are not new questions, but many folks have taken the time to thoughtfully answer them. What I find, personally, most often the case is that the person asking the questions really has no interest in the question themselves, but have a deeper problem with Christianity. They are… Read more »

    danno1602
    Guest

    I used to feel much the same way Gracelouise, but God changed my heart 9 years ago. I know that the answers are in His Word, but often the people asking are not really interested in the answer but are often preparing the next question. There hope is to keep you off balance. I know that there are many answers on Youtube as Greg pointed out. But the thing that has helped me the most has been prayerful study. I knew only enough to stumble when asked a question. I was certain that everyone was smarter than me, even non-believers.… Read more »

    gracelouise
    Guest
    gracelouise

    I appreciate your thoughts and i am always open to consider this but i also think this is an ancient book.

    We are still not answering certain questions that do need to be discussed. Prayerful study wont answer anything that i stated in my above questions accept for confusion.

    Blessings

    danno1602
    Guest

    Gracelouise, thank you for your reply. I will say that I was as frustrated as you when I came to the Lord. I was 52 years old and pretty course. I thought the Bible was confusing and I wanted someone to tell me what it meant. Somebody being my preacher. But God kept that from happening. He kept me in the Bible, and I will say I got pretty frustrated until one morning with I was reading and praying about the gift of wisdom God gave Solomon and things opened up for me that I could not have fathomed. Suddenly… Read more »

    The server
    Guest

    Very educative and expository. Nice job.

    Vincent S Artale Jr
    Guest

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    Seeker ...
    Guest

    I find it unhelpful when others tell us what to read and how to understand what we read. That can pollute the message don’t you think? I read the bible as a child because I wanted to be close to God. I read the gospels on my own and developed my own understanding as God’s Word communicated directly with me. Was I shocked when I was told by my Priest that Jesus was God. What? I never got that impression while reading the Gospels. I found as I matured that there are many other sources of spiritual food that equally… Read more »

    Raina Nightingale
    Guest

    Ever read this? “He who keeps his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will keep it to life eternal.” Think of that in the context of “Give to God what is God’s,” and there is no doubt that Jesus is claiming to be God. What belongs to God more than one’s life, and He is saying that you should lose your life for Him? Either He’s God, or what He’s speaking of is idolatry. And then, “Whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father and His angels. Whoever acknowledges… Read more »

    Lana
    Guest
    Lana

    I came out of years of deceptive new age spirituality, best thing I did. I can see your shock. Jesus is the Son of God not God. You read correctly!

    Seeker ...
    Guest

    Thank you Lana … I have traveled a similar path daring to challenge and explore as Holy Spirit directed me through God’s Word, https://the-spiritual-quest.org. Much like Jeffery has done here … he has dared to step beyond where “the church” is comfortable by promoting his own insights. Very inspiring I must admit ~ Peace

    Jonni
    Guest

    Yes, Christ Jesus in his humanity is the only begotten Son of God, we are children of God by adoption. But as to the deity of Christ, consider John chapter 1: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (v 1). . .and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (v.14). . .The Word that became flesh was Christ Jesus, this Word (Christ Jesus) was from the beginning and created all things. (v. 3) Also consider John, chapter 10 starting with verse 22. When we come to verse 30 Christ… Read more »

    Lana
    Guest
    Lana

    The idea of trinity is something that has come from pagan worship (research Nimrod). This 3 in 1 concept confuses would-be Christians … God is not the author of chaos.

    Seeker ...
    Guest

    Thank you Lana, I spent many decades debating doctrine … establishing my belief and then expanding beyond it. I was liberated from Religion when I disconnected from allegiance to “my truth” and accepted Christ on his terms. I expanded beyond my personal salivation and was able to take on Christ’s view … 1 John 2:2. We are all part of the same family and whatever story, history, allegory, heritage, language, ideas or conclusions we experience we are all part of the truth. When we insist and hold to “our truth” we label all those who disagree with us as what?… Read more »