Can the Bible Be Reliable if It Had Human Authors?

There are some who think that because men wrote the Bible, it must contain mistakes. After all, to err is human. Of course, this assumes that men always make mistakes.

It’s true that people make mistakes all the time. However, it doesn’t follow that because men can make mistakes, that they always make mistakes. Certainly there are books that are both written by men and contain no mistakes. Therefore, pointing out the fact that the Bible was written by men does nothing to undermine the Bible’s reliability. The challenge doesn’t work.

It’s not enough for the challenge to assert that the biblical authors can make mistakes. Rather, they would need to point to specific instances were men have made mistakes in the text. Once those are on the table, then we can talk about them to see if they call into question the Bible’s reliability.

Let me make one further comment. Implicit in the challenge is the assumption that the Bible was merely written by men. However, the Christian claim is not that men wrote the Bible alone. Rather, the claim is that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). The Bible is the product of men and God. Paul tells the church at Thessalonica, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thess. 2:13).

The apostles and prophets who wrote the Scriptures were not perfect. They had their faults. But God can use imperfect people to accomplish His perfect purpose. That is to say, fallible human beings can write an infallible book because the infallible God inspired them. As some have quipped, “God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.” If God is involved with the Bible, it doesn’t matter if men or monkeys wrote it, He can still guarantee the result He wants.

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Tim Barnett