Literalism: Isn't the Bible Historically Unreliable and Regressive?

We can and should trust the Bible historically, culturally, and most of all, personally.

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One of the things that most troubles people about Christianity is that they perceive the Bible to be historically unreliable and regressive.

I. You can and should trust the Bible historically.

II. You can and should trust the Bible culturally.

III. You can and should trust the Bible personally.


Do you want your heart to burn within you? Do you want the deepest longings of your heart to find their rest in a personal encounter with God? Go where the Scripture is expounded.

Literalism: Isn't the Bible Historically Unreliable and Regressive? was preached 11.5.06.

Tim Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, New York. He is also the co-founder and vice president of the Gospel Coalition. You can find more sermons by Dr. Keller at

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Displaying 1–5 of 6 comments

WAYNE McDonald

March 20, 2015  5:24pm

Stirring application of the text near the end. For the "critics" who have "reviewed" this message, it appears that since Keller doesn't answer every gnat-sized grumble, you consider his view of the Bible inadequate. Tim is a pastor, shepherding a flock. While intellectual, and intellectually engaging, his purpose is to edify the people of God, addressing their doubts and stirring their hearts. His purpose is not to directly debate the skeptic (although the skeptic could surely learn if he could listen). This is a short sermon from a single Sunday, not an extended scholarly treatise. If you want those, perhaps you should engage a scholar/apologist such as N. T. Wright. Let the pastor fulfill his calling.

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Joseph Sullivan

June 11, 2012  10:03pm

It has taken me a while to get to this sermon -quite topical at present. Always enjoy Tim's work and gain encouragement from it this is no exception. As Jason said, not all of the issues of the Scriptures are addressed. It does however open the door for discussion and the book Matthew has recommended are helpful for a to check out for a study group on the subject.

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Clifford Koehn

October 29, 2011  11:48am

I appreciate this.

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George C

September 25, 2011  9:42pm

Which Bible, Kemosabe? Is it the NKJV Bible that produces Protestants, or the Vulate Bible that is the basis of the Catholic Faith, or the Mormon Bible that supercedes Scripture for Mormons, or the Greek New Testament that is the basis of the Eastern Orthodox faith, or the New World Translation Bible that guides the Jehovah Witnesses?

Matthew Woodley

September 20, 2011  4:49pm

Dear Jason: Thanks for the comments. Obviously, every issue can't be covered in a single skills article written for preachers, so I would recommend the following books that delve into the issues you've raised: Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (by Paul Copan) and God Behaving Badly: Is the Old Testament God Angry, Sexist and Racist" (by David Lamb). Regarding the Gospel of John, there are thousands of articles and books that address the issues you've raised; I would recommend a new (2011) commentary by Dale Bruner.

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