An infinite God cannot fit into a finite Bible

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

Question: If God is an infinite being, how can the word of God be complete… yet contained in a finite-length book — the Bible?

Answer: To answer your question, we will have to play around in the realms of Philosophy and Natural Theology as much as in the Bible, because the Bible assumes itself to be sufficient… which should be… well… sufficient! But it does not purport to be complete — at least, not in the way you mean it. The Bible gives us plenty of information about God, but it does not pretend to explain him fully… and it couldn’t. Here’s why.

Only God is infinite. Nothing can be greater than or equal to its creator — and this includes the Bible — God’s special revelation to humankind. But God has revealed himself in other ways, too. So, I find it useful to think of God’s revelation as his information output. But — and even though it is God who is doing the revealing — every “output” has a cause… and every “output” has a beginning. God alone has no cause or no beginning. He is the Self-Existent One — the only type of entity that can be infinite.

Now, God’s word proceeds from the Self-Existent and Infinite One, but it is not itself self-existent or infinite. That being said, I do not want you to get the wrong idea. I understand the Bible to be the word of God, and I believe that it is inerrant and complete! But it was written to a finite human audience, and it is designed to meet their needs. It is not designed to give a comprehensive description of God, and it is under no obligation to carry infinite information.

Here are the kind of things the Bible was designed to do: refresh, make wise, give joy, give light, endure forever, give a foundation in righteousness, be precious and sweet… but not to find the “ends” of God if we could.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:7–10, NIV)

God’s word also makes you wise about salvation through Jesus Christ. God “breathed” this output, and it is designed to equip you for the work… but it is not designed to give you a comprehensive knowledge of God.

and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:15–17, NIV)

Furthermore, God says in the Bible that the Bible is not his only output. He has also revealed himself to humankind in his creation. We call this God’s general revelation (to differentiate it from the Bible, his special revelation) — and the following passage shows there is enough information in creation for people to see God’s power and divinity — even without the Bible. This proof is so profound that it removes any excuses for people not finding him.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18–20, NIV)

Additionally, God has revealed himself through the morality that we find in every human being. People across all cultures and times have an active human conscience. This shows that God has built a moral witness about right and wrong that is outside of the Bible… but which agrees with the Bible!

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) (Romans 2:14–15, NIV)

In summary, only God is infinite. No non-God entities can be infinite — so God would never sanction that as a requirement for the Bible. But even if we set that aside, the Bible tells us that God uses extra-biblical revelatory tools, like the creation itself and the intrinsic moral sense that he built into each of us as his image-bearers (Genesis 1:27)… and I pray that all this has helped you.

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