The whole truth and nothing but the truth

I’ve never been in a court situation, but I’ve seen it on TV: the witness takes the stand, puts his left hand on the Bible, raises his right hand, and promises to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

This is what I believe God promises, to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And this is what I believe Scripture consists of, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Yet so many people, and even so many of you, my friends, don’t view all Scripture as truth.

So I ask in all humility, and with the purest of motives, would someone explain to me how to divine fact from fiction in the Bible? Old Testament not true, New Testament true? Well, that doesn’t make sense since so much of the O.T. has been proven historically accurate. Maybe supernatural events aren’t true? But that would remove creation, the ark, Jonah and the fish, Elijah, the Resurrection etc. If supernatural events aren’t true, neither is Christianity so no use being one at all.

So many of my friends will take a Biblical account and tell me, “Well, obviously that didn’t really happen.” Or they’ll ignore Scripture that outrightly declares certain things to be sin, and justify that sin as “Well, politically it isn’t right to deny the rights of others,” or “Jesus hung out with sinners and prostitutes.” Which is true, He did. But I can’t find anywhere in Scripture where He declared their sin to be okay. In fact, when He was with them, He told them not to sin anymore. I think something that throws people off is that He spent time pointing out the sin of hypocrisy and jealousy and malice and other “inside” sins that others were ignoring. When He says hate is the same as murder, He’s not saying murder is okay.

And you know, I don’t expect the world to believe in Scripture’s truth. But when my Christian friends don’t believe in it, or when they believe things that are contrary to Scripture, I just don’t understand. And I honestly want to understand. It seems that most of them accept grace and love but not justice and punishment. But how can they read the same Bible I read, where God’s justice is equal to His grace? The O.T. God is the same person as the N.T. Jesus.

For me, it’s either all true or nothing’s true. If I base what is true on what is my experience, or what I want to be true, I might as well believe any religion and just pull what I want from it. But if I cling to what I believe is the TRUTH, then that TRUTH is true whether or not I want to believe it. And whether or not it’s easy. And whether or not it’s popular. And whether or not it infringes on the supposed rights of others. (That last statement is the one that will get me in trouble, but of course I don’t advocate some kind of theocracy to form where Levitical laws are put back in place. And no, I don’t wish to strip away all rights of anyone differing from *me* in the minutest point. What I’m saying is that some things are wrong whether or not they are legal.)

So if you are not angry or upset by my post, please explain how you divine truth from non-truth in the Bible. I promise to dialogue and not accuse, to listen and not condemn. Because I truly desire to understand how Christians can differ to such extremes while reading the same Book and serving the same God.


2 thoughts on “The whole truth and nothing but the truth

  1. I think everything in the Bible is in the Bible for a reason – God-inspired Truth; I don’t believe that it is meant to be read literally. Just as a simple comparison (I am not equating God and Dr. Seuss!) look at a Dr. Seuss children’s book: certainly there is much to learn about life from reading them — there is much Truth without truth. How do I decide what is and is not the literal truth? I rely on prayer, tradition, experience, and reason to discern God’s Truth. (Very Wesleyan of me, no?)

    Moving on to law, I look at how Jesus treated the adultress about to be stoned. He didn’t save her from the masses after she repented. He first showed her love by protecting her. No question that He told her to sin no more, but his love was not conditional upon her first repenting. I think Christians are called on to love like that, unconditionally and sacrificially. (I think another important point is that He was not sacrificing “face” in front of society, but in front of the religious leaders, but I won’t digress into a lament about how politics has enmeshed organized religion in their power struggle, just like in Jesus’s time.)

    • Thanks for being brave enough to respond! Tradition, experience and reason vary from person to person, from era to era, from culture to culture. I don’t think that the Bible is supposed to be true for one, not for another. Even prayer can be deceiving if the outcome is a feeling. I base my values on what is said literally. That Truth doesn’t change. What was True then is True now and will be True always, regardless of time or location. The Word of God is my guidance system, and when I turn to the left or the right, it stays the same and doesn’t move with me. That way I always know True north. Otherwise, I would find it hard to navigate through all the relativism around me.

      But again, I appreciate your reply and your honesty. I know there are many who question the truth or the literalness of the Bible, but they weren’t brave enough to respond. I value your opinion and am learning a lot about raising kids by reading your posts (not all of it good – ha ha!!). Blessings to you & your fam!

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