It depends what you mean by “Bible” and what you mean by “true”.
- There are things quoted in the Bible that are not true. For example, the book of Job contains long speeches by people who did not speak truly about God, but this is not clear until the end of the book. See Job 42:7. This makes it clear that we should be very careful in making quotations out of context, particularly in a book like Job. In such cases, I think the quotations are accurate, but the sentiments are incorrect.
- There are a very small number of places where the Bible text has become corrupted over time. In these places, the original text was correct but what we have now is no longer correct. One example is in 1 Samuel 6:19 where we are told
Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter. (NKJV)
This number is almost certainly too large. The village of Beth Shemesh could not have contained or employed 50,070 men in the fields. It is usually assumed that there has been some corruption in the text. Some versions attempt to correct the text by revising the number. The NIV has only 70 men instead of 50,070 men, although there is little textual support for this reading.
- There are other places where the translators have not accurately given the sense of the original. One example is Romans 9:5
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. (NIV)
Christ is not “God over all” because he is certainly not “over” his Father. See 1 Corinthians 15:27. Some other versions have a better translation of this verse. For example, the RSV:
… to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.
Apart from cases like these—namely quotations of people with incorrect ideas, errors in transcription and errors in translation—I believe the Bible is true in every respect.
Why would God allow any form of error to corrupt our sole means of salvation?
I could give at least two different answers:
1. God chooses to work through humans, and give them responsibility. Some do not do this as accurately and thoroughly as we might like, and he then chooses to work with that. (Perhaps we can think of things that we have done that haven’t been what God would wish us to do?) He could have revealed himself directly and unmistakeably to every single human being (and not worked through a human book at all), but that would take away the need for faith.
2. The errors listed do not corrupt our sole means of salvation. It is still possible to find the message of salvation from the Bible as it is now. Certainly many of the errors can be found and corrected by comparison with other parts of the Bible and other records (though not necessarily all). We can assume that God watched over the Bible to ensure that the message of salvation was never lost by copyists.