Why You Should Believe The Bible? Page 2
From the Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
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Introducing The Bible
The Bible is considered the Number One bestseller of all times. It has been translated into over 1200 languages and there is probably not an educated person on earth who has not at least heard of it. At the same time, as far as people really knowing what it says, it is one of the least known books in the world. The average Muslim probably knows the Koran better than the average Christian know the Bible. And it is also probably the most maligned. Many have been the books that have been written; many the lectures that have been given, by people denouncing and trying to discredit the Bible. Many Bibles have been burned, and sometimes people have been imprisoned or killed for merely owning them. Yet for all of the opposition, the Bible survives 1900 years since the last Books of it were written.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is actually, materially speaking, an anthology of Jewish religious writings composed over a period of as much as 1600 years. It is divided into two major sections, the Old and the New Testaments. It contains 66 separate books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. There is internal evidence within Old Testament to indicate that some of the historical information in it was derived from earlier records. There are other books mentioned in the Old Testament, apparently once regarded as Scripture, such as the Book of Jasher (see Joshua 10:13), that no longer exist.
The Books of the Old Testament present a history of the Jewish people, from Creation to the return from the Babylonian Captivity. These books were assembled into the Old Testament no more recently than 100 BC. The New Testament contains, in the Four Gospels, the story of the life of Jesus Christ, with a collection of His teachings. The Book of Acts gives a brief history of the Early Church, especially the ministry of St. Paul. The Epistles give the teachings of the Apostles. Finally, the Book of Revelation contains a group of visions given to St. John which many Christians believe foretell the end of the world. These books were assembled into the New Testament no later than the mid Second Century AD.
Objections to the Bible
Through both Testaments, a continuing and developing theological narrative presents the concept of the God of Israel, popularly known as Jehovah (which is almost certainly a mistranslation), also known as Yahweh; and His dealings with the human race. This God is shown as a person with human-like traits, to the point that He has been referred to as an "anthropomorphic god". That is, a god conceptually formed in the image of man. But this God claims to have created mankind in His Image. According to the Bible, the truth is that we really are "Theomorphic humans", that is, humans created in the form of God. See the "BABEL RISING!" pages for evidence that this is true.
The Bible and Archeology
The Bible claims, within its own text, to be inspired by God. That is to say, God Himself is really the author of the Book. It has even been acknowledged by atheists that the Bible is the only religious Scripture that shows a real God stepping into real history. Critics of the Bible have tried to say that the Bible is not true because of "historical errors" it contains. The truth is, much of the ancient history within the Bible has been proven to be accurate by archeology. In fact, there is an entire special branch of archeology called Biblical Archeology, that does archeological research relevant to Bible History. An enormous amount of archeological evidence has been found that supports the historical truth of the Bible. For example, in the Book of II Kings, chapter 3, there is a story about a war fought by the kings of Judah and Israel (Israel was split into two kingdoms at the time) against the king of Moab (an ancient kingdom east of the Dead Sea). In the British Museum in London is an ancient inscribed stone tablet called the Moabite Stone. It tells the story of that war from the viewpoint of the king of Moab. And this is a very tiny fraction of what has been found.
The Bible and Science
Critics also attack the Bible by claiming that it is contrary to science. It has, however, been well said that the Bible was not intended to be a science book. If even a summary of the knowledge of the earth, biological life, and the universe that has been acquired through modern science had been included in the Bible, it would have made the Bible impossibly long, and people of Bible times wouldn't have understood it. But there are things in the Bible, most of which are usually overlooked by Christians and critics alike, that anticipate the findings of modern science to an amazing degree. For example, in Romans 8:20 & 21, Paul makes a statement to the effect that the entire universe is subject to corruption, i.e. decay. This is amazingly consistent with the findings of modern physics, especially the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Again, this is a tiny fraction of the things in the Bible that anticipate the discoveries of modern science.
The Bible and Evolution
The greatest conflict between science and the Bible is over the creation vs. evolution issue. Although there seems to be a consensus in the scientific community in favor of evolution, an honest examination of the issues will throw the weight of evidence on the side of creation. This is not to say that the earth was created in six literal 24 hour days. There is overwhelming evidence that the earth is far older than the Bible seems to say it is. But that doesn't mean that evolution is true and/or that the Bible isn't true. From the viewpoint of Christian theology, it is not necessary to believe in a literal six 24-hour day Creation to believe the Bible. It is the view of this writer that Christians who maintain such a belief are doing nothing but harm to the cause of Christ. See the "Creation Vs. Evolution" page.
On the other hand, the theory of evolution is full of holes. For one thing, classical evolution theory depends on uniformitarianism. This is the doctrine that all the geological and biological changes that we can understand, from geology and paleontology, to have happened to the earth took place gradually over a very long period of time. Modern discoveries have shown conclusively that this is not what happened. Major changes came suddenly at long intervals, in the form of major catastrophes, mostly from asteroid and comet collisions and through enormous volcanic eruptions, though there were other contributing factors. This idea contradicts traditional evolution theory, but it does not contradict the Bible. The ideas of catastrophism and asteroid and comet collisions are in the Bible, if one has the knowledge and understanding to see it. See the page called, "A Mountain Burning With Fire", in "The Great Tribulation" section for more information on this.
Who Wrote The Bible?
We have said that the Bible was written over a period of as much as 1600 years. There has been, from the academic standpoint, considerable debate over who wrote what Books of the Bible. In some cases we just don't know. However, there is concrete reason to believe that every Book that is attributed to a specific person was in fact written by that person, (or, in some cases, more precisely, dictated) contrary to what skeptics say. As this question applies to the Books of Moses (the first five Books of the Old Testament), some critics have said that the Books were the work of at least three different people. However, a computer analysis of the Books of Moses (Note: this had nothing to do with the Bible Code.) showed that all five Books were the work of exactly one person.
Then there is the idea of the Books having been "handed down by oral tradition". This is nonsense. Written language is known to be almost as old as the Biblical history of the human race, that is, dating from circa 3500 BC. Hebrew is also one of the oldest written phonetic languages. Hebrew inscriptions have been found in the Sinai desert that date to circa 1500 BC, the earliest accepted date for the Exodus. There is no intelligent reason to believe that the Bible is recorded folklore, as some critics try to say.
One of the most common objections to the Bible, in the sense of its spiritual authority, is the idea that the Bible was written by men. Of course, materially speaking, this is true. But these men were writing, as all true Christians believe, by Divine inspiration. But just what does this mean?
The principle Scripture verse that belief in the Divine inspiration is based on is II Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God...". The words "given by inspiration of God" actually translate just one Greek word, "theopneuma", which literally means, "God-breathed". Which is to say that the verse would be more literally translated, "All Scripture is breathed by God". Scholars are aware of this, but differ about exactly what it means.
We find a clue to the full meaning in another verse relevant to divine inspiration, II Peter 2:21: "...holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." The Greek word for "Spirit" is a basically the same word as "breath". So the holy men of old were moved by God's Breath. Having understood that, we must look at the word "moved". It is the Greek word "phero". This word is used in several other places in the New Testament, and it is usually translated "driven". It is rendered in this way in Acts 27:17 & 27, where it describes what was happening to a sailing ship out of control in a severe storm. So the passage in II Peter should read, "driven by the Holy Spirit". The Prophet Jeremiah gave a description of what this experience was like in Jeremiah 20:9: "His (God's) word was...like a fire... shut up in my bones... and I could not (keep silent)". The men who wrote the Bible had no more choice about what they wrote than the crew of that ship had about where they were going. God is really the author of the Book. The men who wrote it were just so many pens in God's hand.
Is the Bible Reliable?
You have probably heard it said that the Bible "has been tampered with". If you believe this, just answer these questions: "When, Where, and by Whom?" (This writer has on several occasions silenced people who said the Bible had been tampered with by simply asking these questions.) If you think you can answer them, try to document your answers with reliable sources close to the time and place in which the tampering supposedly occurred. The truth is that, throughout the history of the Bible, the most diligent and consistent efforts have been made by highly qualified scholars to preserve and wherever possible improve on the accuracy of the text of the Bible. See the Encyclopedia Britannica, Macropedia Edition, article on the Bible, section on "Textual Criticism". Be prepared to do a lot of heavy reading.
People have been burned at the stake for doing what was perceived as tampering with the Bible!
Only a few editions Bibles can be called "tampered with". Examples are:
- The New World Translation used by the Jehovah's Witnesses. It is deliberately biased in translation to favor Jehovah's Witness doctrine.
- The Readers Digest Bible. It is so watered down theologically that it doesn't deserve to be called a Bible.
- The new editions that eliminate all the male pronouns that refer to God. There isn't space here to discuss the full theological significance of this, but the problem is with the motivation for it, which is rebellion against God.
These are all relatively recent translations. All of the major translations used in the Churches can be considered reliable.
Note, however, that it is necessary to define the term "tampering". This word can be used to refer to a number of passages of Scripture about which there is disagreement among scholars concerning the correct reading, i.e. the way they should be translated, and their authenticity, that is, whether or not they belong in the Bible. For example, the seventh verse in I John 5, in the King James Version is omitted in most modern translations, because Bible scholars have concluded that it was added to Latin translations of that Epistle long after it was originally written. The fact that the modern translations omit this verse is actually evidence of the efforts being made to improve the accuracy of the translations mentioned above, not evidence of tampering.
The word "tampering" as used here refers to making changes to multiple passages of the Bible with the intent and/or effect of changing the meaning of the Bible as a whole. All three of the examples above were tampered with in that way. I am sure that all the people I mentioned silencing above understood the word in that way, too.
Support From The Jews
Further support for the authenticity of the Bible comes from the Jews. As you may know, the Masoretic Text (Hebrew) used by the Rabbis predates the coming of Christ. This is used as a principle source for translating the Old Testament into English. As you may know, the Rabbis are more insistent on the accuracy of their Scriptures than Christians are. For example, the Torah's (those big scrolls with the Books of Moses written on them kept in the Synagogues) are created by specially trained scribes. If while making a Torah, the scribe makes even one mistake, he has to throw the whole thing away and start over.
Remembering that, consider this: There are many Orthodox Jews in the United States who can't read Hebrew very well, so there are English translations of the "Holy Scriptures", as they call the Old Testament, published for them. They contain the same books as the Protestant Old Testament (Catholic Old Testaments contain additional books). The books of the "Holy Scriptures" are arranged differently from the Protestant Old Testament. But if you got a copy of one of them and a copy of the King James Version, and opened them both to the 23rd Psalm, you would make an interesting discovery: (at least in the edition I have had in my possession) the text in the Jewish edition is identical to the text of the KJV. In other words, they use the King James Version as their English translation of the Old Testament. The Rabbis think the KJV is good enough for the Jews, so we can believe that it is good enough for us.
By the way, there is a consensus among Christian scholars that several modern English translations, notably the New King James and the New American Standard, are better than the old King James Version.
We have discussed the validity of the Bible overall, but there is one question that must be dealt with to truly establish the truth and authority of the Bible. In the next page we will address the question,
Does God Exist?
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm