The Bible under Attack, Again.

Bible under attack

After church on Sunday, someone asked me what I thought of the “Bible Secrets Revealed” series currently airing on the History Channel.

I hadn’t seen the production, so later that day I watched episode one – sickening! I don’t object to an honest enquiry into the difficulties some people have with the content and composition of the scriptures, but I have little tolerance for biased and selective propaganda, and that is what this is, blatant anti-evangelical propaganda. If you are interested in a review of this series, you will find it HERE

There is nothing new about this sort of attack on the veracity of the scriptures. The Bible is the sacred text of Christianity and so for hundreds of years detractors and adversaries have been trying to discredit its trustworthiness.

Unfortunately, it’s not only atheists, secular agnostics and so on who denigrate the Bible, it’s also several well-meaning ‘Christians’.

Years ago, Bishop Spong attempted to strip the miraculous and mysterious from the scriptures because, he said, he wanted to protect the Bible from scientific scorn. More recently, Brian McLaren tried his best to present the Bible as a sort of cultural library more than a repository of truth or divine revelation. Just this month Andy Stanley stated that it was time for Christians to unhitch themselves from the Old Testament. They aren’t the first and they won’t be the last.

However, there is a much more subtle threat that presents as an attempt to guard the integrity of the Bible. Two words flag this friendly-fire – ‘literal’ and ‘inerrant’. Before any conservative evangelical reader suffers an apoplectic fit, let me explain what I mean.


Most Bible-honouring Christians, myself included, believe that the Bible should be understood literally. By this, I mean that we should understand any biblical text within its biblical, literary, historical, and cultural context. To understand something literally, in this sense, includes the possibility of figurative language, parable, type, and allegory. A useful starting question is, ‘what did the original readers understand by this?’

However, many dispensationalists and others contend that we are to understand every text only in its plain superficial sense (their understanding of literal interpretation). For instance, Revelation 20:1-6 describes some form of Millennium, and so according to literalistic interpreters, there must be a coming 1,000-year physical reign of Christ on earth because that is the ‘plain’ meaning of the text. But, the book of Revelation is written in an apocalyptic style and structure intended to present truths through powerful symbols and word-pictures. To understand it ‘literally’ does not mean ‘ignore its literary context’! Later in this article, I will get to why I see this interpretation issue as a threat to the integrity of the Bible.


This is another word that means different things to different folk. I do not believe that the Bible is free of elements that are inconsistent, historically ambiguous, or scientifically untenable, but this does not mean that I hold parts of the Bible to be uninspired or untrustworthy.

The Holy Spirit supervised the writing, editing, collating, and preservation of the scriptures. The Bible is a God-ordained and God-ordered divine-human collaboration and it is fully trustworthy.
It is, in this sense, inerrant.  By this, I mean that God did not make a mistake by involving humans, inconsistent though they might at times be, in the process of producing scripture.

However, many reformed and fundamentalist scholars conflate their understanding of inerrancy with their idea of ‘literal interpretation’ and by so doing strip it of its human influence and reduce biblical inspiration to a form of divine dictation.

Now let me state why I believe the literalist-inerrancy approach to the Bible, as I have described it, is a threat to its acceptance as the inspired and trustworthy written Word of God.

Firstly, it puts bible-believers on the defensive in having to attempt to explain away the obvious anomalies within the Bible. Secondly, it is like a Sword of Damocles in that failure to explain away any and every problem in the sacred text leads inevitably to a rejection of the inspired nature of the Bible. Thirdly, and more subtly, it detracts from the intended purpose of the Bible.

This last point needs explanation: The Bible is not a theological dictionary, nor is it an exhaustive description of reality in its totality. It is neither a magic sourcebook nor a coded prediction of the future. It is, rather, the inspired record of God’s dealing with humanity and a reliable and sometimes painfully honest record of the human response. Most of all, it is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the background to His life on earth, and the record of His works and words. We encounter Jesus in and through the Bible, through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. We find there the way of relating to Him and the path of life as His disciples.  However,

Jesus and not the Bible is the source of truth.

When we view the Bible as anything less than what it is intended to be then we set it up for attack and dismantling rather than acceptance and embrace. And I use the words ‘less than’ intentionally because I contend that attempts to defend literalistic inerrancy reduce the veracity of the Bible and that although of noble intent they constitute a subtle attack on what they profess to defend.

So, fellow believer, accept the Bible for what it is, a fully trustworthy document indispensable to faith and life, and let its detractors flounder in their own misconceptions and misguided arguments. Focus on Jesus, the author and subject of the inspired scriptures and continue to find direction, comfort and meaning in the pages of sacred scripture. And let ‘Bible Secrets Revealed’ be revealed for what it is… unreliable, untrustworthy, and essentially untrue.
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Christopher Peppler



3 thoughts on “The Bible under Attack, Again.”

  1. Pingback: TruthTalks: The Bible under Attack, Again. | Truth Is The Word

  2. Thank you for the article, Chris.
    But I would not dismiss the millennium so readily. The thousand years is mentioned 6 times in one chapter, indicating emphasis. (This compares with Jesus saying only 4 times in John 6 that he would resurrect believers on the last day.)
    Also, there is a tie-up between Rev 20 and Ezekiel 39 that should not be ignored.

    Regarding the “scientifically untenable” statements in the Bible, please clarify which ones are a problem. Genesis 1 perhaps?

    PS: The link to “email the author” at the the foot of the Truth is the Word email is broken.

    1. Hi John. No, I do not dismiss the biblical concept of Jesus Christ dwelling with His people on earth, but I do not believe that the scriptures teach a 1,000-year physical reappearance of Christ on earth before the end of all things, as taught by dispensationalists etc. I hold that the reign of Christ on earth is effective right now through His church and that He will, in the very end, create a new HeavenEarth where He will live forever with His people. Regarding ‘the scientifically untenable statements in the Bible’, I am not referring to the creation accounts specifically, but rather to the pre-scientific cosmology of the Old Testament. e.g. The earth pictured as a flat disk under a solid canopy with the sun moving accross it and held up by pillars etc. Job 9:6 PSm 75:3 Ecc 1:5 and so on. Oh and thanks for the heads up on the dead link; I will look into that. KInd regards.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.