Since I launched my website back in February, I’ve started reading different Christian blogs to get a feel for the lay of the land. And the thing I’ve discovered? By and large, if you want to attract a large following to your Christian blog, you basically have to reject the bible as truth and criticize orthodox Christianity.
That creates a bit of a problem for me, seeing as how, ya know, the bible is absolute truth.
But I think I found a loophole.
Here are three things the bible says that just aren’t true.
- “There is no God.”
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” (Psalm 14:1)
Well there you have it. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and all those other angry atheists were right. And the source of their validation? The exact book they loathe and despise: the bible.
… or… maybe not.
We know the bible is absolutely true. Therefore, this verse records absolute truth. But to understand what is truly being said, this passage must be read in context.
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Psalm 14:1 isn’t saying there is no God. It’s saying that foolish people claim there is no God. This verse is accurately recording what a fool says, even though what the fool actually says is inaccurate.
So, this begs the question: how do we know if what’s being said is accurate?
It all comes down to context. For one, does the statement line up with the rest of scripture? And two, is the speaker a trustworthy and reliable source?
In this passage, the speaker is definitely not reliable. He is called “foolish” and “corrupt.” He clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about.
And his statement is definitely not in sync with the rest of scripture. The first words of the bible are, “In the beginning, God.” The bible doesn’t waste time proving God’s existence because it is so painfully obvious and self-evident.
“There is no God” is a false statement; “Fools say, ‘There is no God’” is a true statement.
Let’s see if we can find a few more “incorrect” passages.
- “Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus.”
“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22-23)
Moments after Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus tells His disciples He will soon be executed. Peter’s response? “This shall not happen to You!”
While Peter is fervent with his message, we know he was wrong. For one, Jesus calls him “satan” just one verse later. And since satan is the father of lies, Peter can’t be telling the truth.
Also, all four gospels end with Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.
“Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus” is a false statement; “Peter said, ‘Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus’” is a true statement.
And today’s final example of an “incorrect” bible passage?
- “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”
“And [Job] said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” (Job 1:21)
This is a common one. You find it quoted in approximately 53.7% of worship songs, it often turns up in Sunday morning sermons, and it’s used to prove that God sometimes bring evil into our lives.
But it’s not true.
First of all, the text makes it clear that satan (not God) took Job’s stuff away. And in the final chapter of Job, the titular character repents for saying this, claiming he “uttered what [he] did not understand.”
Already it’s not looking good for this oft-quoted passage. Job admits he was wrong, and the story itself refutes Job’s claims.
And the final nail in the coffin? There isn’t a single example in the bible of God taking good things away from his righteous children.
God does plenty of giving (like here, here, here, and here), but you just can’t find a solid foundation for the idea that God takes away. The best argument is Job 1:21, which is easily dismantled when one considers the entirety of scripture (and even just the entirety of the Book of Job, or the entirety of chapter 1 for that matter).
So yeah, apparently there are a few passages of the bible that seem wrong when taken out of context. The bible is, among many other things, a history book, and it records the events of history with perfect accuracy.
But some of the people whose stories are recorded made mistakes (David’s extramarital escapades, Balaam’s greed, Job’s ignorance). And we do ourselves a disservice when we follow in their errors rather than learn from them.
The bible doesn’t teach that God gives and takes away.
Job taught that.
And Job was wrong.