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Is the Bible literal and always true?

by Stephen Davey

The acclaimed film director Woody Allen once remarked that “We have no spiritual center—we are drifting alone in the cosmos.” 

This feeling of spiritual limbo is reflected by data released a couple years ago; a Gallup Poll found that for the first time ever in the history of America, a minority of people are members of a church or other religious meeting place. Not surprisingly, this trend is being led by millennials and younger generations. Only 36 percent of millennials are members of a church, while 31 percent report having no religious affiliation whatsoever. 

Allen’s observation that our culture lacks a spiritual center is seen most clearly when people are asked if the Bible is the literal Word of God. Only 20 percent of respondents said that it is. 

If the Bible is not the spiritual center of a person’s life, they will drift along in the cosmos, feeling alienated, lost, and without hope. 

The decline in belief of a literal, inspired Word of God has given rise to various interpretations about the role and use of the Bible. By the way, there’s no question where we stand today—you can count me with the 20 percent who believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. Frankly, this is a foundational belief for the Christian’s life and practice. 

And while most of this magazine will be devoted to defending this position—theologically, scientifically, and historically— we must first begin with a brief survey of the opposing viewpoints regarding the Bible. It’s possible that you believe one of them; it’s almost certain you will converse with someone who does. It is crucial at the outset that we understand the presuppositions of others, so we can give an informed defense for the truth. 


Supporters of this position will say that the moral teachings of the Bible are at times good and beneficial to society. They will agree that most of the Ten Commandments and much of Jesus’ teachings are worthwhile philosophies for civilized living. 

But they reject all supernatural power and the existence of any miracles. Influential proponents of this belief will claim that Jesus didn’t really walk on water; he was stepping on floating lily pads that carried Him to the boat where His disciples were. The raising of Lazarus from the dead was a staged performance with the help of Mary and Martha to make Jesus more famous and cause more people to believe in Him. 

I think—frankly—it takes more faith to believe that a giant lily pad could keep a full-grown man floating on top of a raging sea than that Jesus actually is the Son of God with the power to walk on water. 


The problem with this viewpoint is obvious—who decides the combination? Who sits in the seat of the judge and decides what passages are God’s words and what passages are myths? Are we to be like Thomas Jefferson, the American statesman who didn’t believe in miracles or the deity of Christ? He copied his own version of the Gospels—I have a copy—and it ends with Jesus dead in the tomb— end of story! 

Those who hold this viewpoint replace the authority of God’s Word with their own authority. 

I listened to a local pastor in my area who teaches at a church that rejects the inerrancy of Scripture. I was baffled as he selectively used the teachings of the apostle Paul to argue whatever position the pastor wanted to believe. Because the pastor does not believe in hell, he teaches that Paul was speaking metaphorically in Romans 6:23 about “the wages of sin” being “death.” He claimed that death must be some sort of metaphor. 

This same viewpoint is how people can change the translated word “homosexuality” in the Bible to “pedophilia,” changing the real sin they think God is condemning based on which sexual preferences are more socially acceptable. 

Beloved, you won’t find a pastor or teacher who holds to this worldview who can give a consistent defense for which parts of the Bible they choose to take literally and those they dismiss or rewrite! 


This viewpoint argues that additional writings beyond the 66 books of the Bible are equally authoritative and inspired. Whether it’s the Muslim Koran, or the Mormon Book of Mormon, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Magazine, or the Roman Catholic Apocrypha and Papal decrees, these religions claim to take the Bible seriously, but not uniquely. 

Mormons believe their teacher’s version of Jesus, who along with his brother Satan, were born of women who had sexual relations with God the Father. Muslims follow the gospel of Barnabas, an allegedly inspired fifth gospel that teaches Jesus was never crucified, but Judas was, instead. 

Have you ever thought about the fact that the very first temptation was when Satan asked Eve, “Did God say …”? And ever since, Satan and his demons have been using the same strategic approach: tempting people to question, reinterpret, add, erase, ignore, or retranslate according to their own religious or personal views. 

When you are confronted with one of these viewpoints and are asked to defend why you take the Bible seriously—literally—this edition of Heart to Heart is designed to equip you with the answer. Ultimately, to trust the Word of God as the final authority in your life today. 

Add a Comment


Kim Hayes says:
I pray to talk to God and God talks to me through his word. What do I tell the person who thinks the Bible is old fashioned and not for today’s world? The same person said God loves us all too much to send anyone to Hell. I was speechless. I love your articles and sermons. I learn so much and share when ever the opportunity arises. Thank you.
James Cok says:
I believe that! But how would you respond to the comment that I think is true...Behind every symbol, metaphor, simile, there is a literal meaning? Does that water down the literacy?

So appreciate your clear teaching of God's Word...I've received so much from your messages and have used portions of them in teaching, along with some of your illustrations.

Thanks and God's blessings brother!

Judith B Henry (Judy) says:
I’m with you 100%! When man starts adding, subtracting, dissecting, etc. from God’s word, there is no end to the chaos that results.

By the way…Different subject: I’m relishing the current Tribulation series! I especially appreciate the definitions of the various views on the Millennium. I grew up in the Church of Christ during the ‘50s. The Churches of Christ split, many years prior, over their views of the Millennium. A preacher in Louisville, KY, Robert Boll, taught the pre-millennial viewpoint, which was the teaching of “our side” of the Churches of Christ. My Dad’s family, from TN, were, of a different viewpoint…amillenial, maybe. They just agreed to disagree. In 1952, a dear preacher friend of ours, Hall C. Crowder, was the Minister at the Main Street Church of Christ in Gallatin, TN. He organized a week-long series of debates in Nashville. We traveled from Louisville to attend. I was only seven, but I vividly remember the debates, and one scene stands out in my mind. The preacher from the “other side”, took the podium , armed with many books, which he referred to during his talk. When it came time for our guy, Frank Mullins, Sr., to speak, he approached the podium, armed with only one book—God’s word, and presented his case with scripture, only.

It’s ALL there!

Judy Beasley says:
You are one of the best at explaining how to get more of the Bible understanding than anyone I have ever listened to. Am brother I am old. Love your teaching. Thank you.
marilyn amoroso says:
This is a timely article, thank you for responding to a critical spiritual issue that is the current trend in today's culture. As a member of our Church Health committee, I have been doing some research on this topic to determine the underlying cause of the falling away from God's word ( the gospel) I found that one of the many problems we face is some churches believe that the bible is allegorical, instead of literal, as a result they don't believe certain portions of scripture such as Genesis, Daniel, Revelation or they change the context. The Lord gave us His word to study and read daily, and when we are unfaithful in our study of the word, we end up believing errors, preached by apostate leaders.

5 lies that the world have commonly embraced, and is now embraced by apostate churches 1. Homosexuality is normal- 2. Pagan spirituality is OK 3- Feminism is good - Transgenderism is normal and - Modesty is outdated. " Isaiah 50:4b " Morning by morning he awakens, he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught."

Lisa Jarreau says:
The Bible is the Living and Eternal Word of God, and I am glad God’s Holy Word the Bible is Total Truth.
James Cook says:
I responded one time already, but have another question...I'm full of them! How best determine what false teaching is? I have heard that the bottom line is the person and work of Christ and the authority of the Word. No doubt God's Word is the authority...but our interpretations of what the Spirit actually meant is too often contaminated by a certain bias, background or disbelief. How would you define false teaching when it comes to things like end times interpretations...some Preterists say that prophecies and events in the Old Testament, New Testament including Revelation occurred in 70 AD, and some of them say there is just a spiritual second coming. Some say Revelation is just a battle of good and evil...I find that false teaching considering the rest of Scripture. I have no doubt that the Catholic teaching of Mary's sinlessness is false teaching because it doesn't line up with clear teaching of the Word. So is there some good criteria for some interpretations to be "accepted" as not crucial to true faith?

RESPONSE FROM WISDOM INTERNATIONAL: At the bottom of each page of our website is a blue chatbot icon. If you open the chatbot and ask "How can I identify false teachers?" it will provide you with the messages where Stephen addresses it.

Rosie Huertas says:
The Bible is the word come to life and our daily guide to great living. Regardless of our situations we can be sure that the Bible has an answer for all of life's circumstances. Those whom choose to believe differently is because they do not want to change their way of living and prefer to live a lie and in their sin. We serve a Father who does not lie and creator of all.
Brandon DeNeen says:
Gods Word is forever settled in heaven, whether we make a conscious choice to believe or reject doesn't change Gods word. As for those who would add to or take away from, the warning in the book of revelation would be well heeded if our hope and trust is in Christ our Savior. Thank you for the admonition, encouragement and warnings that are proclaimed in this ministry, as found in Gods Holy Word.