If there’s one thing that makes me grateful that the Bible is true, it’s big conversations with our kids. We have a lot of those in our family. It comes with the territory when you’ve got teen and tween kids, I suppose. These conversations usually come up at entirely unexpected times but we embrace them when they do. We’ve talked about abortion, same-sex relationships, human rights violations, sexual abuse… Basically anything and everything that makes a parent run away screaming.
While these conversations are uncomfortable at times, they’re also good. They’re an opportunity for Emily and me to hear from our kids about what they’re thinking. To hear what they’re hearing in their public schools and from their friends (including their Christian ones who also go to public school). To affirm what needs to be affirmed, to correct what needs to be corrected, and to challenge their thinking where it needs to be challenged.
And that’s something that we can only do if we have something bigger than opinions to base our thinking upon. Something that is true—truly true, if you’ll forgive the poor grammar. We need the Bible, God’s truly true Word.
Why the Bible’s Truly True-ness is Good News
Christians tend to use a lot of different words to describe the trueness of Scripture. Inerrancy is one of those, meaning that the Bible is free from error. That no falsehood or deceit is found in its pages because every word is inspired by God. What it teaches is true. Infallibility is another, which means that not only is the Bible free from error, but it cannot err. We can make mistakes interpreting it, but the truth of what it says is still true. And not just sort of true, or true in parts—like, true as far as spiritual realities, but not about anything else—but really true.
This is really good news for us because the “truly true”-ness of Scripture helps us to read, study, and respond to it as God means for us to. And there are three ways that holding to this kind of truly true view of the Bible helps us to do that:
First, it reminds us that context matters.
Time, place and culture play a huge role in understanding exactly what was going on, as well as the purpose of why the books were written in the first place. If we ignore a text’s context, we risk misapplying it and injuring ourselves and those around us.
Second, it demands we honor literary devices and genres.
We always read poetry as poetry, history as history and so on. Some of the most ridiculous arguments against the Bible’s trustworthiness come from literalistic readings. That is, people ignore literary devices like similes, metaphors, or phenomenological language (think sunrise and sunset). But believing the Bible is true doesn’t mean that we flatten literary devices. It means we embrace them.
Third, it protects us from falling into tomfoolery and needless debates.
The tomfoolery I’m thinking of has to do with those times when people try to use the Bible to disprove the Bible, or a Christian’s position on a specific issue. The overstated conflict between science and faith (overstated because scientific study and faith are not in conflict), why Christians oppose same sex behavior but are cool with mixed fabrics and eating bacon—stuff like that. And in those moments where someone tries to use the Bible against itself, to “prove” that it is unreliable or that Christians are hypocrites, what should we do? Encourage reading and studying the Bible together. To explore the context, and to understand what was written on its own terms. When we do that, it’s possible we can find out we’re wrong. But it’s also possible we can help someone else come to know the truth.
Yes, This is Good News!
It can be tempting to run away from big conversations, especially with teenagers. But it really is good news—and it’s good news because we have a Bible that we can trust. A Bible that is true. In everything it teaches, it is always true. And in a time when truth is in shorter supply than ever, that is great news for us all.