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The Bible is Not All Truth

Tertullian was a Christian apologist in the second century from North Africa.  He may be best remembered for a hypothetical question that he asked in one of his writings.  Apparently frustrated over the secular learning that he saw other believers pursuing, he asked, “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?”  All Christians are living out their answer to this question in their life.  And unfortunately, many agree with Tertullian.

My view is that there should be no conflict between secular learning and sacred truths.  However, some people view these two as separate and conflicting categories. In many cases, adopting such a view leads to general paranoia about “the world” and an anti-intellectualism among believers.  There are several reasons why a Christian does not need to be intimidated or scared of “secular truth.”

The Bible is all true, but not all truth. Traditionally, Christians have affirmed that the Bible is correct in all truths that it affirms.  But it is obvious that there is a lot of truth not contained in the Bible.  (Consider The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy articles IX, XI, and XII.)  You won’t be able to find my birthday or any facts about World War II in the Bible. Yet that doesn’t mean those truths don’t exist.  In fact, John 21:25 tells us that there is even a lot of truth about Jesus that isn’t recorded in scripture!

Truth does not contradict itself. The classic way to describe this is “A is not non-A.” That is to say, a proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same way.  So if two propositions give contradictory claims, both cannot be true.

Just for fun, let’s say you meet someone who doesn’t agree accept this rule of logic. What should you do if they claim that two contradictory propositions can both be true?  Just say, “Since you believe that two contradictory propositions can both be true, can you affirm that my belief (which contradicts yours) is true?”   If they say yes, then they have just agreed that when two propositions give contradictory claims, they cannot both be true.  If they say no, they are saying that your view cannot be true because it contradicts theirs.  Either way, you win the conversation.  It’s like flipping a coin and saying, “Heads, I win.  Tails, you lose.” 

Truth that is not recorded in scripture will not conflict with truth that is recorded in scripture. No person with a true belief system has to fear truth.  Once again, the entire Bible is true, but not all truth is in the Bible.  Because of this, truth not in the Bible should collaborate (or at least not contradict) truth that is in the Bible.  This is usually what a Christian means when they say, “All truth is God’s truth.”




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