It Turns Out That Jesus Was Wrong and the Bible Is Not Inerrant After All

September 11, 2013

What if the Bible was not actually inerrant?BIBLE

What if there were verses that were really true, historical, God-breathed, and others that snuck in there under the radar, but don’t really belong?

Of course, plenty of people already think that is the reality, that pieces or chunks of the Bible aren’t really reliable.  I don’t see an end in sight to the inerrancy debate.  I have been clung to inerrancy and written about my definition of what it means to be inerrant here before.

But today, I am not so sure of myself.

You see, I think I found a mistake in my Bible.

I think I found a mistake.  It didn’t take much investigation, or a magnifying glass, or parsing words in their original language.  It was pretty easy actually.  The offending verse comes from Jesus’ own mouth.  I am convinced that Jesus had to have been wrong,

What mistake could I have possibly found that would send my whole view of scripture into a tailspin?

The Verse Where Jesus is Wrong

The offending verse comes in John 13:35.  Jesus says to his twelve friends:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Of course, we easily extend that verse’s meaning to all of us, every follower of Jesus, and the sentiment should still be the same.  All followers of Jesus will be known for their love of others.

Was Jesus serious?  Was he speaking tongue-in-cheek and I’m not supposed to be taking him literally here?  Because it appears to me that Jesus is speaking pretty straight-faced.  And it appears to me that he was just dead wrong.  Maybe Jesus was being a little naive.  Maybe he had a bad connection with the Holy Spirit that day.  Maybe John was just mistaken in his memory.  I don’t know what happened, but all I know is that the world around us provides incontrovertible proof of that verse’s extreme errancy.

They Will Know We Are Christians Because We Tell Them

Of course, I’m stretching the truth a bit when I call that verse an “error.”  Maybe we can say the verse was intended to be true.

The funny thing is that Christians try to make themselves known in a lot of ways.  We try to bear our faith out in the clothing we wear.  Sometimes that comes in the form of funny Jesus slogans on T-shirts.  Sometimes, it shows up as “modesty” debates among the ladies.  Christians try to make themselves known with their cars – little fish and bumper stickers that give tailgaiters a dose of heavenly wisdom.

Christians try to be known by their ability to defend their faith, so people won’t think we’re a bunch of illiterate hayseeds.

Christians try to be known by how they vote.  We love to make ourselves a voting block that politicians can pander to, making short-lived promises.

Christians try to be known by all the things they oppose.  People rarely wonder what Christians think of any public issue.

Christians try to make themselves known by the church they go to or the standards they hold for themselves.

And Christians try to be known by their ability to tell people about their faith.

And yet, Jesus spelled it out, how his followers would be known.  And for 2,000 years, we have tried to find a way around Jesus’ words.  We’ve tried to find a shortcut – some way to make ourselves known without actually having to love others.  

A T-Shirt is Not a Testimony

That is why we are known for everything except our love.  

Here’s the thing about the Bible and inerrancy.  The Bible says a lot of crazy things.  It says that God died.  That’s nuts.

But non-Christians aren’t reading the Bible, much less the crazy parts of it.  Instead, they are watching us.  They see how we love or don’t love others.  They see the fruit we bear or don’t bear.  They see how our lives and our words and our love reflects or doesn’t reflect Christ.  They don’t care about our T-shirts, our bumper stickers, or our church attendance.

You see, in many ways, perhaps the most important ways, the Bible is only as inerrant as we make it.  Jesus said his followers would be known for their love.  It’s up to you and I whether those words are true and trustworthy.  Paul describes the fruits that a Christian will bear in his life.  Those verses are only as true as we live them out.  It is not our scholars or our studies, but our lives that prove the Bible to be true or untrue, errant or inerrant.  When we talk about inerrancy, we are usually talking about something like Genesis or Deuteronomy, when we ought to be talking about John 13:35.

A t-shirt is not a testimony.  A life of love is.  

What do you say?  Is the inerrancy of scripture proven by us and not by scholars?

12 responses to It Turns Out That Jesus Was Wrong and the Bible Is Not Inerrant After All

  1. The Scriptures are true because they are from Jesus. They are true whether or not we believe them or manifest them, since there is not one portion of His Sovereignty or Truth that relies upon us being “good Christians”.

    An atheist approached me with, “Is Jesus true because you believe in Him, or do you believe in Him because He is true?” (How I do so enjoy their questions!)

    The Headship of Christ, our sonship through the New Covenant, are not things that rely on us. Ever. They are true despite us, in fact. :)
    Donald Borsch Jr recently posted..Post #16: My priorities under the Headship of Christ

  2. I recently read that the early church WAS known for their love. When everyone around them was dying from the plague, these Christians cared for the sick, at great risk to themselves.
    I was raised an atheist, and it was the love of the Christians in my freshman dorm that allowed me to lower my guard and consider for the first time that God might be real. The Christians I know well are some of the most selfless, giving, compassionate people I’ve ever met. I think it’s a travesty that a few bad apples give the rest of the church such a negative reputation.
    Leslie recently posted..Life & Death

  3. Thought-provoking post! What strikes me is exactly that Jesus’ words ARE true: his *disciples* will be known by their love. When I find myself not being loving and not living the life Jesus said we were to live, it’s a wake-up call that I am not being a true disciple or follower of Jesus, no matter what religiosity I spout. Yikes! Thanks for the reminder :)

  4. The Word is infallible. The texts do not have to be inerrant for that to be so.

    The finite contains the infinite.

    Even Jesus himself was true man…and yet true God.

    Our Lord uses ‘earthen vessels’ for His perfect and inerrant will.

    Ok. Glad we got that straightened out. : )
    theoldadam recently posted..How can you know if someone has faith? Or if you have it?

  5. Jesus knew us. Jesus knows us.

    He knows that we are very mixed bags when it comes to love. And that we so often love ourselves first and foremost.

    But He doesn’t let that stop Him from loving us. From forgiving us our sins and declaring us righteous for His sake. Not because of what we do, but solely out of His sheer grace and mercy.

    Now that is real love.
    theoldadam recently posted..How can you know if someone has faith? Or if you have it?

  6. I asked a very wise person what they thought about the Bible. And she said, “I don’t worship that word, I worship The Word Which Became Flesh.” When I asked after the inerrant, infallible line of questioning, she replied, “I am none of those things. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Yet I stumble along to follow the one who was and is.”

    Her words stick with me this day. And I am grateful for her witness. And it took me until seminary to realize she was quoting Romans. Go figure. 😉
    Luke recently posted..Q&A Rally Day 2013

  7. Great post. Thanks for writing this!
    Chad Estes recently posted..Whoever said ‘Gay’ meant Fun didn’t have my Week

  8. Matt, you bring it every time, but this is one of your best. You totally pulled a ninja move that left my jaw hanging and my head shaking.

    Thank you for unashamedly speaking the truth in real ways. Keep up the good work.
    ThatGuyKC recently posted..Don’t marry an assassin

  9. Great post. Either Jesus is a liar or there are multitudes of false disciples running around. Christianity today is joke. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump”

  10. How about Romans 10:14 – how will they know if we don’t preach? Of course, we need to go back to the “speak the truth, in love” passage… because preaching without love is hypocritical babble. But then Paul exclaims that as long as Jesus is preached then he’s happy! It’s difficult to pull one verse, or passage even, out of the scriptures to prove or disprove anything. The context, the whole, must be considered. As a lifelong believer (since age 4, for heaven’s sake) I have always questioned whether or not the Jesus way is the only way and wondered if there was such a thing as an inerrant word. I’m at peace with my doubts and my Jesus, now. The point you make that we are the refutation of its veracity is true, but isn’t it inviting the splitting of hairs? Because truly, the discussion of the inerrancy of the scriptures is moot to those who don’t believe…. Just some thoughts. I did appreciate your ninja skills like ThatGuyKC said:)

  11. jesus in islam[quran]

    Blessing Blood of imam Hussain and Healing Jewish girl