Believe it or not: The Bible is Nonsense

The Bible contains pure, unadulterated nonsense. Let me give three examples.

1. Election and human responsibility

On the one hand the Bible teaches unequivocally and continually that God elects some and not all: “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14); ‘“You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16); “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:13); and the Ephesian saints were “foreordained according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).

The Bible even teaches that God’s election is unconditional, i.e., God does not choose people upon the condition that they will believe and be good. Paul writes that the choice of Jacob and rejection of Esau was made before the children were born and before they had done anything good or bad, “that God’s purposes according to his choice might continue, not on the basis of our works but of him who calls us” (Rom. 9:11). Elsewhere, he states that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, in order that—not because—but in order that we should be holy (Eph. 1:4). Luke tells us pointedly that as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). Foreordination was not conditioned on someone’s believing, but vice-versa, someone’s believing was conditioned on his being predestinated.

So, on the one hand, the Bible teaches divine election.

On the other hand—and here is the nonsense the Bible continually holds all men responsible for what they do. Its teaching about predestination never once allows man to blame God—even in the slightest—when man refuses to believe. Never does it permit the suggestion that God is at fault for having ordained things in a certain way. On the contrary, the Bible continually exhorts man to repent, believe, grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, pray, not faint, acquit himself like a man, and be strong. And if he doesn’t, it is 100% his fault and not God’s.

How in all the world can anyone reconcile these two contradictory statements? On the one hand, God elects and reprobates; and, on the other, man is responsible. Logic demands that it be one or the other: either God elects and man is a puppet, or man elects and God sits idly by hoping man will elect him. But it is foolishness to say that God elects unconditionally and that man is still responsible. It is utter folly to speak of the responsibility of a foreordained thief.

The Arminian sees the irrationality and tries to correct the contradiction by eliminating one of the contradictory statements: God’s unconditional election. On the othcr hand, the hyper-Calvinist sees the irrationality of holding to both statements. Contrary to the Arminian, he solves the problem by eliminating the other side of the coin, human responsibility.

Yet the Bible teaches both sides—divine sovereignty and human responsibility—and therefore the Bible talks nonsense.

2. An omnipotent, loving God

Or, to take another example. the Bible tells us such apparently contradictory facts as: 1. God is all powerful and all loving; and, yet, 2. God ordains napalm war, volcanic death, and the cancerous suffering of a young mother of five. Foolish! says the logical person, such as theologians Nels Ferre and James Pike. An all-loving and all-powerful God would not allow such heartaches.

3. Sincere offer of the gospel but limited atonement

Finally, to mention but one more example of Biblical nonsense, the mystery of limited atonement. The Bible says—and the Reformation taught—that the Father sent Christ to die for his people and not for all the world and that Christ went to hell to make a substitutionary sacrifice for them alone.

Yet—and here is the contradiction—the Bible tells us that God sincerely loves all, even those who are hell-bound, and desires the salvation of all, reprobate as well as elect.

Yes—these are but three examples of unadulterated Biblical nonsense. For man, that is—not for God. To man’s mind it seems ridiculous, foolish, nonsensical. And it is. Man cannot and never will solve those problems. He is just a finite man.

But it is not foolishness to God. His ways are higher than our ways as the heavens are higher than the earth. What seems illogical to man makes complete sense to God. God’s foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom (I Cor. 2:25). He can reconcile what seems to man to be contradictory statements.

“Oh, the depth of God’s riches, wisdom and knowledge. How unsearchable arc his judgments, how untraceable his ways” (Rom. 11:33).

Dr. Edwin Palmer is Executive Secretary of the Bible Translation of the New York Bible Society.