Bayith Home |
Better Than Rubies
The Super Source of All Error
Dusty Peterson, 2005
by Dusty Peterson, 2005
Please Note: This is
a condensed version of the first talk in the series
Beware False Balances.
Beware False Balances: Talk One | Beware False Balances: Talk Two
1986 The Christian Sourcebook identified 21 thousand denominations
(and anticipated 270 new ones
annually). In 2002 the U.S.
Census Bureau catalogued more than 30,000.
Yes, thirty thousand “Christian” denominations, obviously
representing many conflicting beliefs.
is this fracturing possible, especially since no other religion I know
sees anything like it? I
believe that the Bible is true, and therefore that the Devil of whom it
speaks is somewhat more interested in dividing Christians than heathens,
but this only partly explains such splintering…
main factor is that, since the Reformation, most folks have had
increasing access to Holy Writ and have reached multitudes of distinct
interpretations of it. But how
can so many disparate views be derived from this one book?
Let’s assume three things, viz: (a) that no further denominations have formed since the U.S. Census study above; (b) that no doctrinal differences are present within any denomination; and (c) that thirty denominations exist per individual worldview. Each assumption is surely unrealistic, yet they would still mean there are over one thousand belief systems within professing Christianity… and most, if not all, are derived from the same source. How come??
Bible is the truth. (If you
disagree, at least consider the Bible as a candidate for being
the truth and investigate my three articles before drawing firm
there are many ambiguous portions of Scripture.
These often just comprise parts
of verses, but each can be interpreted as pointing in a different
direction to the bulk of God’s Word.
(As I explain later, this observation is anything but a
criticism!) We all know of
examples, so I’ll only mention a couple for now:
Although the Bible calls God “Almighty” or “omnipotent” on 58
occasions, Genesis says He “rested”
on the seventh day. Of
course this merely means He ended
the work He’d been doing, not that He needed to recover
from that work, but if a denomination prefers to believe that God is not
Almighty then there is some ammunition like this available to them.
Holy Writ teaches that God is all-knowing, or ‘omniscient’ (John
But you can also find a handful of verses implying otherwise.
Hosea 8:4, for example, has God declaring, “[
Scripture says God is omnipresent, e.g. in Psalm 139.
He is, in a sense, everywhere.
But if a person is unwilling to believe this, a few passages
again exist which superficially question it.
For instance the Bible refers to God’s presence ‘going with
have all encountered other cases. Indeed,
I have yet to locate a doctrine which cannot
superficially be challenged using verses from Scripture.
(I’ll give more illustrations shortly, but the fact that we
seem able to find Bible-believers around the globe who disagree on
virtually every aspect of the
Faith says much.) I used to
claim that you can prove anything from the Bible, but that’s not
strictly correct. After all,
Scripture nowhere indicates that Hezekiah was a ten-foot-tall circus
contortionist nicknamed Bendini. But
it does appear that you can ‘DISprove’
anything, i.e. you can oppose any true doctrine via passages from
are actually very godly reasons why we should expect
this. I’ll come to those
presently. For now, here are
some promised further instances to bolster my main assertion.
If anyone objects to the belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to
God, a few verses such as Micah 6:8 enable them to do just this.
(Don’t misunderstand me. All such ‘problem passages’
need to be honestly explained rather than swept under the carpet, and it
is risky to teach a doctrine until one can resolve the relevant ‘difficult’ passages!)
anyone uncomfortable with God’s Spirit being a Person, He seems to be called “it” on occasion in Scripture.
(Again, see Part Five of the book cited a moment ago for a
◄ Is anyone not prepared to believe that Christ was infallible?
Well, He chose Judas Iscariot as a disciple.
This can be exploited to undermine our Lord in the eyes of those
folks who don’t know that He needed
to choose Judas in order to fulfil prophecy.
could go on and on with examples. The
old saying ‘The exception that proves the rule’ is clearly not so
peculiar after all.
(If you oppose any doctrinal statements in this article, I urge you to
check that you haven’t inadvertently fallen for the ambiguous minority
of evidence yourself. If you
discover that it is I who am in the wrong, please let me know but please
also be aware that this does not invalidate my overall point.)
summarise: If we prefer to reject any
true teaching, then a small but noticeable amount of evidence in God’s
Word appears (on the surface) to deny that particular teaching, enabling
us to “believe a lie” (2 Thess.
with doctrine, if we wish to hold a false view of the
Bible itself then the Lord
again seemingly allows us to do so.
Despite all its irrefutably miraculous features, if anyone seeks
to disrespect God’s Word then a modest but non-negligible proportion
of the evidence superficially supports this:
Anyone wanting to believe our Bible is incomplete
(even though it would be a profoundly unimpressive God who could not
protect His own Word) has access to a small amount of data which can be
twisted to aid their stance.
Anyone not prepared to believe in Sola
Scriptura (despite us having no way of being sure what is true
unless we have an objective basis) has a tiny quantity of evidence
available to defend their error.
Anyone uncomfortable with the Bible’s infallibility
(despite Christ Himself saying “Scripture cannot
be broken”) enjoys some limited succour too. We’ve already seen
verses which appear to negate others.
It is precisely when certain folks misinterpret such verses that
they think the Bible contradicts itself and is thus fallible.
For instance, although the gospels appear
to disagree with each other in various places, a serious study of these
‘discrepancies’ will fail to locate any
which exhibit an undeniable disharmony.
(See Part 4 of the book
cited earlier for reasons why these ‘discrepancies’ are
extremely intelligent but unsaved friend of mine once explored Holy Writ
as a candidate for the truth. He
obtained a list of supposed errors in Scripture, rightly believing that
something is fundamentally amiss if God has not made a trustworthy
version of His Word available to us. My friend examined these
‘problems’ and, after inspecting the text in its original language
or researching Middle-Eastern culture or making whatever other inquiries
were appropriate, he found that every single ‘error’ vanished.
Unfortunately, he then obtained another list of
‘discrepancies’. He got frustrated having to investigate all
these claims and, wrongly assuming there can’t be smoke without fire,
he tragically gave up on God’s Word…
are no substitute for wisdom! This
man refused to see the pattern in front of his nose:
There were simply too many
‘errors’, all of which
disappeared completely when
properly studied, and most of which were simply too
conspicuous, to have all been introduced by accident into such an
amazing document as the Bible. Yet
he could not see the possibility that God had included them deliberately.
appreciate that what I’ve written so far may lead you to believe I
think God deceives people, but that’s not what I’ve said.
I’ve claimed that God enables people to deceive themselves, which
is rather different. I should also clarify that God hates all lies
and cannot Himself lie: it would go against His very nature. But a
lie is not the same as using ambiguous words or actions which can be
taken wrongly if a person so chooses. Let’s check what Scripture
says regarding this matter of misleading without lying:
these were deceptions against enemies, they were
deceptions from God nonetheless.
Consider backsliders too. Jeremiah
stated of backslidden
the good of His Kingdom, God could even be said to fool faithful
servants at times. Jeremiah
cried out “O LORD, Thou hast deceived me”
(20:7), and God employed a deception in order to reveal to Solomon the
true mother of the baby in 1 Kings 3. He did likewise, and in multiple ways, to bring Jacob to
readers will know of one or two verses indicating that God is opposed to
all deception. But once again we are talking about a fraction
of the relevant verses, so let’s ensure we interpret them in the light
of the rest of Scripture rather than vice versa. Let me reiterate:
God is totally opposed to all lying,
but a person can be duped without being lied to and there are numerous
places in the Bible where God directs His servants to do exactly this.
Just some of the many other cases are: Judg. 3:15-30; John
1:19-21 (cf Matt
-13); 1 Sam.
20:5-7,18-22; Jer. 38:24-27 (cf vv14-15);
and Luke 24:28-29. (Then there are all the times in Scripture when
God hid things from people or where He blinded them from truths.)
Hence God blessed the
Hebrew midwives for deceiving Pharaoh, and blessed
Rahab for her deception. I
beg you to check the references I offer before dismissing these things.)
God does enable us to mislead ourselves if we prefer this to loving
(i.e. seeking and obeying) the
truth regardless of the cost.
would God do this? I discuss
that below, but this situation should at least encourage us to study the
whole Bible rather than
limiting ourselves to subsets of it.
(If anyone sees my article
as a reason for ignoring the Bible, I implore them to read the
first chapter of a book I’ve co-authored.
See this footnote:
the proportion of ‘misleading’ evidence always seems adequate to
fool those who do not put the truth first.
(In my experience, the physical quantity
of ambiguous evidence varies between topics, but the overall effect is identical. This produces an interesting situation.
Suppose a doctrine is directly supported by the great majority of
Scripture, and its negation is only sustainable by a smattering
of verses. To achieve the
necessary effect, some of these few passages will appear surprisingly
compelling at face value.)
rule, that truth can be obtained by respecting all
the evidence but that a non-negligible proportion of it will
superficially point away from
the truth, appears to be fundamental spiritual principle. I plan
to consider some important ramifications of this in my next article.
now though, let’s return to why
God would enable people to mislead themselves.
I believe there is one prime reason:
I intend to prove next time, God aligns Himself so completely
with truth that He takes it as a personal affront when we don’t love
the truth, and He’s hardly going to bless that!
We can liken ambiguous evidence to battlements around a castle.
They discourage (or stop) the half-hearted person because they require
care and effort to overcome. However,
they encourage the valiant-hearted person because they
show that the treasures within are even more precious than previously
scriptures include Matt. 13:10-15; Luke
-33; and Rev.
analogy is also reinforced by Proverbs 2:2-5.
Note the supreme commitment demanded:
thou criest after knowledge,
and liftest up thy voice for
If thou seekest
her as silver, and searchest for
her as for hid treasures;
shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”
patently involves heartfelt desire.
It requires us to seek truth with the same degree of application
and determination with which we would search for hid treasures.
(It also involves seeking to obey the truths we have already
explains why so many different denominations with
so many conflicting views derived from the same book have appeared.
If any readers disagree that this is the principal reason for the
existence of such immense doctrinal splintering within
“Christianity”, they need to locate a better explanation and they need to explain the presence of so many ambiguous Bible
If you do doubt my conclusions, please read my next article as this should deal with all
concerns. If any doubts
linger, please see the original talk transcripts from which these
articles were condensed.
any readers are tempted to reject this material on the basis that it
doesn’t fit into their existing doctrinal framework, I would humbly
suggest they are in danger of doing precisely what this material warns
about – i.e. putting something before truth. I urge them to
consider what I have to say in the next article before dismissing what
we have covered thus far.
the multitudes of contradictory (but sincerely
held) Christian worldviews around, any of us who thinks he is immune
from the problem I have identified is surely being naïve. I would
argue that he is being at least as naïve as the newly-wed man today
who, in a society which now sees more than half of all marriages end in divorce, imagines that he
himself will never suffer any marital problems at all. Selah.