Beliefs That Cannot Be Proven From The Bible

Books could be filled with examples of this article’s title, but that’s not my intent in this article.  Rather, I intend to show just a few examples of the sort that demand honesty of the Christian.  I say this because we should be careful to be honest even about faith.  If we cannot prove that a belief of ours is true, then we ought to be honest and admit as such.  Remember, not being able to prove a thing does not necessarily mean that it is not true; it just means that we can’t prove it.

On the other hand, however, when we cannot prove a thing, we should be honest enough to admit that as far as we know, we could be wrong about it.  And why should we be honest?  Well, how about simple imitation of Jesus?

“Sure,” you say, “I can be honest.”  And of course, you can.  What really surprises many Christians, however, is when they realize just how many tenets of their faith are based upon assumptions that cannot be proven from the Bible.  The list below demonstrates some of those assumptions, not to rattle anyone, but to enlighten..

Remember, this is nowhere near a complete list; it is simply meant to give enough examples to make the point about how many things believers tend to assume about their faith.

  1. “Every word in the Bible is from God.”
  2. “The Bible is complete.”
  3. “God planned everything that would be in the Bible.”
  4. “Jesus’ church was to be a perpetual institution on the Earth.”
  5. “The promises made to people in the Bible were meant to apply to (at least some) people today.”
  6. “God exists.”

Now remember, I’m not saying that these beliefs are false; I’m only admitting that we cannot prove them from the Bible.  As we all know far too well, not everything in print is true.  Indeed, we’ve all read newspapers and websites, right?  So, honestly speaking, it could be the case that something in the Bible is not true.  And it could be the case that every word in the Bible is true.  The problem is that we can’t prove it from the Bible itself.  That would be like asking a witness to testify as to his own honesty.  “Are you an honest witness, Mister Smith?”  The answer to such a question cannot be trusted to be true, even if it is true.

Let us freely admit, therefore, that we believe some things that we cannot prove.  This is a normal practice in the world, by the way.  When a driver approaches a bridge, he believes that his trip across the bridge will be successful, but he cannot prove it before he has crossed the bridge.  Yes, he can remember how he crossed that bridge successfully this morning.  And he can watch as cars are successfully crossing the bridge ahead of him right now.  But he cannot prove that should he drive across the bridge right now, it won’t collapse.  No, he’ll have to see it through in order to find out.

And so it is with the Bible, in some ways, at least.  For example, we are simply without a way to prove that there is a heaven until we find ourselves there someday.  Indeed, we cannot see it from here, nor measure it, nor photograph it.  That doesn’t believe that it doesn’t exist, of course, but we would be dishonest if we claimed to know for a fact that heaven exists.  But we can certainly claim to believe it.  And we can show many passages in the Bible that support that idea.

What If We Are Wrong About A Belief?

What happens if we are wrong about a belief?  To pick an easy-to-work-with example, let’s suppose that Billy (an adult) believes in the Easter Bunny—and let’s assume that he believed with all his heart.  What happens if Billy discovers one day that he has been wrong all along?

Well, the answer to that question depends a lot on Billy and his paradigms about honesty.  Let’s suppose for starters that Billy has been the type to say things such as the following:

“I know that the Easter Bunny exists.  I know it in my heart of hearts and I know it by faith, and there’s no way you or anybody else can tell me it’s not so because God himself assures me that the Easter Bunny exists.  And anybody with a good heart could read the Bible and see with the help of the Holy Spirit that the Easter Bunny exists!”

Now let’s compare those claims with the claims a Billy of a different character might make:

“Well, you know I’ve always believed in the Easter Bunny.  But I’ll tell you something; I can’t prove that he exists.  I find it quite believable because I’ve always been told he exists, but to be fair, I can’t actually prove it.  In fact, I’ve never been able to find anything in the Bible about it.  So maybe it’s true and maybe it’s not, but I do believe it.”

Which Billy do you suppose will be better equipped to deal with it when he eventually learns that the Easter Bunny does not exist?

The second one, obviously.  That’s the sort of guy who would be able to say something like this after the disappointing discovery:

“Well, I always said I couldn’t prove it, and it turns out that I was just wrong; there is no Easter Bunny.  I’ve gotta admit that I’m still feeling pretty disappointed over it, but I finally had to admit to myself that I was holding on to an idea that just didn’t make any sense.  There was no evidence for it, and something of that nature might likely be at least hinted about in the Bible if it were true.  So I gave up on the idea.”

I think it’s fairly obvious that a Billy like this would be much more likely to learn and admit that he is wrong than the first Billy above.  While we’re at it, let me list a few one-liners that I’ve heard and that I try to use often myself.  These are valuable, in my opinion, for keeping a realistic and humble point of view about our own understanding of things:

“Well, if I’m reading the Bible correctly, ….”

“OK, my current understanding of things is that…”

“I’ve been wrong before, but here’s what I’m thinking at this point…”

“I can make some arguments from the Bible in support of this idea, but to be fair, I haven’t studied what arguments might be made against it.”

People who say (and more importantly, who think) things like this are much more likely to be in a good position to revise their beliefs when new information becomes available.  Regularly reminding oneself of the uncertainty of unproven things is a healthy habit that leaves one flexible and strong for dealing with new information.

Many, however, seem to laud quite an opposite attitude as being worthy of spiritual admiration.  What they do is to value dogmatic certainty, as in the thoughts of the first Billy above:

“I know that the Easter Bunny exists.  I know it in my heart of hearts and I know it by faith, and there’s no way you or anybody else can tell me it’s not so because God himself assures me that the Easter Bunny exists.  And anybody with a good heart could read the Bible and see with the help of the Holy Spirit that the Easter Bunny exists!”

They somehow get the idea that their very identity is based on their beliefs, and that to challenge or to question their beliefs is to insult them.  They are the sort who may be most likely to make arguments of this sort:

“The Bible says it; I believe it; and that’s good enough for me!”

This idea may well sound good at first, but after a while, I begin to wonder whether understanding is more to be valued than certainty.  In other words, isn’t being right more important that being sure?

Imagine a bomb disposal technician who is told that the next step in disarming a bomb is to cut the green wire.  He asks the partner reading the instructions, “OK, I think I heard you tell me to cut the green wire next.  Is that right?”  But suppose that the partner gets immediately irate and shouts back, “I told you it’s the green wire and how dare you question me.  Don’t you have any faith?!”

I don’t know about you, but I’d feel a lot safer in the hands of a partner who calmly said, “Yes, Jack, the next step is to cut the green wire.  I know this because I’ve read the directions three times, and Sally here concurs that I’m reading it correctly.”

The partner who screams may indeed be certain that he is right, but I’d much rather take the word of one who demonstrates that he himself is trying hard to get it right—and especially that he understands that he is capable of making mistakes!

Sadly, a great many Christians put their trust more in the screaming type, though.  And I don’t mean that their leaders necessarily scream in a literal sense.  Rather, it’s the unyielding dogmatism that concerns me, for I’ve “been there, done that” and have sense been proven wrong on a great many points!

So, the next time you catch yourself getting ready to make an assertion of fact with regard to Christianity or the Bible, perhaps it’s worth the time to take a second thought about it.  Do I really know this?  How solid is my support for it?  How solid would be the arguments against what I believe?  Have I made any unproven assumptions in my belief?  Have I considered all the possibilities before settling on my belief?

These are the types of things that honest people think.

We must take an honest view of our own religion, admitting its doctrinal difficulties freely.  Indeed—and this may come as a shock—as big as the Bible is, there does not exist in it a concise and clear definition of the words “Christian” and “Christianity”.  This automatically complicates things at least a bit, and soundly suggests that if somebody is going to understand things well, they’re going to have to do some study.  It’s just not as easy as some would like to believe.

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