Question for Biblical Literalists

How would your faith be affected if you discovered the bible was fallible? Say by whatever method you would consider irrefutable.
[li]Would you continue to believe as you always have anyway?[/li][li]Would your faith adjust / expand to include this new development?[/li][li]Would it destroy everything you thought you stood for?[/li][li]Would it change it to something else entirely?[/li][li]Something else?[/li][/ul]

As for myself, whenever I no longer felt the bible to be 100% true, I began down a journey that pretty much killed the Christianity that I’d practiced before and in it’s place left just a smorgasbord-type spirituality and agnosticism. Now how about you?

Depends on the issue.

Jonah & the Whale. The slaughter of the Canaanites. I could tolerate a “debunking”. Doesn’t hurt my faith in Yahweh/Jesus.

NO Exodus at all. Bones of Jesus found. I now declare myself a conservative Theist, no longer a Christian or even a Noachide .

It’s pretty hard to defend the infallibility of the Bible as-is with existing material that is taught in Bible history classes (e.g., archeological evidence, textual criticism, etc.). There’s a reason why priests often come in to divinity school as fundamentalists and come out of school spouting theologically liberal crap like “Jesus rose in our hearts”.

Granted, there’s no one huge piece of evidence like finding the bones of Jesus. But when confronted with a historical context like the fact that there were dozens of very contradictory gospels floating around for centuries, and that the early Christians resembled and believed nothing like today’s (the Trinity being one well-known example), the ability to believe in a consistently Fundamentalist God requires incredible mental gymnastics.

In short, I went to Bible classes in college, had my belief in an infallible Bible shaken, and came out theologically liberal, and several years later finally admitted I was atheist.

I hear ya dre2xl. My feelings began to change after a World History class in college.

And Friar, for the purposes of the poll, let’s say that the whole thing has now been proven to be just a ‘collection of stories meant to impart a moral imperative.’ How’s that?

Would you still follow the teachings of Jesus as closely as you do now, or is your belief in the wisdom of his teachings contingent on the belief in his resurrection? (Apologies if I excluded a middle–please feel free to supply it if I did).


Hey LHoD, just wanted to say congratulations on your new baby. Hope you, the missus and the little one are doing great. :slight_smile:

The more idealistic aspects of The Sermon on the Mount would get tossed out immediately. There are those who think Jesus is great because of what he taught and those who think what Jesus taught is great because of who he is. I’m in the latter camp. Without His Divine Sonship and Resurrection, he has no more claim to my loyalty than Thomas Jefferson, Confucius, or even Ayn Rand.

Thanks–we are! I keep meaning to do a thread with pictures, but haven’ gotten around to it yet.

Interesting, Friarted. If I were Christian, it’d be because of Jesus’s teachings: I’m suspicious of claims to moral rectitude based on inherited authority, even when it’s inherited from God. Hell, even if I believed in God, I wouldn’t necessarily believe God was good, so I guess it’s a hard sell for me to believe that of God’s son.


Well, I would believe in a covertly-involved God who expected us to behave decently towards each other and be ruthless towards those did not treat others decently. Blend up Ethical Monotheism (google up Dennis Prager’s essay), the Higher Utilitarianism that Aldous Huxley espouses in the foreword to Brave New World, and a strong streak of Stoicism, as Tom Wolfe presents it in A Man In Full.

What would be missing- a lot of Grace, beliefs in equal human & political rights, leniency towards & hope for rehabilitation of criminals. Whatever I have of that comes from my belief that Christ teaches that every person has the potential through Him to grow into a child/heir of God.

I am not the best person to talk about this, but from what I learn - the books of the Bible are divided into history, prophecies and literature. Some are not meant to be taken literally but just to get the point across.

The history books are written for the benefits of the Israelite. I wouldn’t be surprised if some information are off. I rather delve into the meanings

The prophecies book, AFAIK, are meant for events relevant then and may holds some meaning for us.

I guess literature books, the poems, shouldn’t be taken literally at face value but be read for their meanings.

And books are written for the people at that time. It does not necessary apply to now. What are more important is percepts. The history books of Chronicles and Kings differ by a large bit to pander to the mood of the people.

That said

  1. Which part of the books are fallible? That will determine the impact.

  2. AFAIK, the Bible itself never claims to be 100% correct. Saint Paul says it is god-breathed (it could mean 100% accuracy, but I see it as inspired) and useful for teaching

  3. The Epistles said different things at different times; each of those letter should be read in context of the city Paul was preaching in. He gladly take donations from Galatians, a proper and prim church, but refuses to take from Corinth because it would cause trouble. Is this inconsistency simply human, or falliability?

  4. The books are written by numerous authors. The canon is put together by human beings. I don’t know how the canon is put together (I forgot) but it has been showed that the disciples are not 100% perfect

  5. Someone made a mention about the sermon on the mount. In context, or so I have read, Jesus is telling the people that following the written rules of religion which the Pharisees has adhered to is not enough, or not correct. It’s not just the outward, but the inward. And since the inward is never always pure, salvation cannot be achieved by human hands.

At least we don’t see one-eyed first century Christians, I guess.

  1. the part that would cause the whole religion to fall apart, i guess, if the resurrection is not literal. That is the crux of the religion.

I am not a literal Bible reader, by the way, but has struggled with many of the issues.

Then there’s something really, well, “funny” as in a wrong sense of funny here. Jesus’ teaching, if the doctrine of grace and salvation is not real, for example, does not gel well with society (I think. Not an expert here).

There’s the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep and the forgiveness of the thief who died by his side (let assume those really happens as the basis of the discussion). The only universal moral rule which I think applies, if there’s no grace, no salvation, is to do unto others what you would have others to do unto you. That is quite universal among India and China - Mozi of the Warring States period advocate an ‘universal love’ much like Christ.

Yet many of Christ’s parables and teachings are focus on the after-life too. Perhaps one can say the gospel writers focus on those to build a religion, or fabricated it. But if we take the 4 gospels as ‘it is’ (perhaps sans miracle, for the sake of discussion), Christ’s teachings are rather alien. I mean, what could be a secular interpolation of “Those who lose their life save it, while those who try to save their life lose it?” What would “render to Caesar what is Caesar, and what is God to God” mean?

Many traditionalist Chinese I know takes offense at “Let the dead bury their own dead” as it goes against the grain of filial piety taught by Confucius. Somehow Christ don’t strike me as a moral teacher. The pharisees are probably better at that.