Chapter 2: A Man and the Bible
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Sunday, March 11 2007 19:00|
NOTE: In conjunction with the release of my new book, A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines, I am going to publish an excerpt or two from each chapter. We’ve created a web site location where you can obtain numerous additional audio, video, and print resources on the Spiritual Disciplines.
Can we trust the Bible?
Of course, anyone who takes the Bible seriously must begin by believing it is God’s communication. Where does that confidence begin?
First of all, the Bible does claim to be the word of God. More than 3,800 times, authors introduce a passage with a phrase like, “Thus says the Lord,” or “The Lord spoke.” Some prophets even claimed they were under direct orders from God, compelled to give His message. Jesus quoted passages from the Old Testament, verifying their origin as coming from God.1
Jesus also quoted the Old Testament as having authority in His day. For example, when He chased the money changers from the temple, He quoted Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. “’It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robber’” (Luke 19:46). Jesus also cited the authority of moses when He proclaimed the validity of His own ministry: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:46).
In just these two verses—Luke 19:46 and John 5:46—Jesus authenticated the writings of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and also the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah—seven of the Bible’s sixty-six books.
Consider what information the following verses give us about the authenticity and power of Scripture....
The internal witness is clear: The Bible claims that Scripture comes from of God and is without error.
Now, it’s certainly true that, an internal claim is not necessarily accurate. If I claim to be the King of England, that doesn't make me the king. Yet it is not insignificant that the Bible does claim to be “the word of God.” We do have quite a bit of empirical evidence to support the internal claim. For example, consider that the Bible is made up of sixty-six different books from thirty different human authors, written over fifteen centuries. Yet it flows with such continuity that it looks like a single piece of cloth. That’s difficult to explain outside of God’s guiding in the process.
And we have 5,659 partial or complete Greek New Testament manuscripts in existence. Compare that with only five, six or seven copies of Plato and nine or ten copies of Julius Caesar. Yet most scholars have no difficulty accepting the veracity of Plato and Caesar on just those few manuscripts. The continuity of content and manuscript evidence alone is an overwhelming indication that Scripture came from God.
Then there’s the whole process that established what texts were included in our Bible. A canon is a theological word for an authoritative list of books accepted as Scripture. The Old Testament canon was pretty well set by 300 B.C. The New Testament canon was already taking shape by the end of the first century. By the end of the fourth century, there were two important Church meetings – the Council of Laodicea in 363, and the Council at Carthage in 397. Both gave canonical lists that mirrored what was already accepted in the Church.
Christian leaders through the ages have agreed that what is included in our Bible did originate with God, and it is a trustworthy document. Tens of thousands of scholars have spent millions of hours and dollars studying the Bible’s credibility. They agree – it really is God’s Word.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.
1 Peter Cousins, “The Bible is Different,” in David Alexander, Pat Alexander (Eds.) Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI) 1973, p. 33.