Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is the Bible Reliable?

Today's chapter in the Purpose Driven Life (Transformed by Truth) talks about how God has given us his word to help us live our purposes. His Word transforms our lives. I completely agree, but God's Word (the Bible) can't transform lives unless you believe it contains truth. For many Christians it seems that more time that passes between the present and the penning of Scripture the more further they get from Scripture itself. Most people agree that the Bible is a very inspirational book and is even useful in a person's life, but more and more Christians are agreeing with the world that it is just a book written by man. The implication is, The Bible, though useful, is like any other book in the world. Another idea that seems prevalent is because of it's antiquity (it being so old) there has been ample opportunity for it to be changed over time.

I want to debunk these two myths. If a person calls themselves a Christian then it is essential that they believe Scripture is God's Word and therefore unchanging truth.

Let's tackle the second myth first. The Bible has been changed over time. I am amazed to hear this statement not from just ordinary people but well educated people. Evidence shows that such a statement could not be further from the truth.

One of the big concerns when dealing with books of antiquity is whether a book has undergone significant revision throughout its history. The Bible has more evidence then any other book of antiquity that it has not undergone revision. There are more existing manuscripts of the Bible then any other book of antiquity. The manuscripts cover a wide range of time, geography and language. We have so many manuscripts from different time periods, different places, and in the original and translated languages that we can be completely sure that it has not undergone revision.

We also have the careful manner in which the Bible was preserved throughout the ages. Because of man's reverence for the Bible and the belief that it was inspired by God those who copied it took great care in preserving its words as accurately as possible. All sorts of methods were developed to this. Every word was counted, every sentence was counted, every line was counted. Middle words were found in each sentence along with middle letters. If the copy did not match the original it was destroyed and the copier started over again.

These two weighty pieces of evidence are not Christian myths used to substantiate the belief concerning the Bible. These evidences have been proven by science. The Bible is the most unique book the world has ever seen, and it is safe to say that the Bible is relatively the same as when it was first penned.

I will say this. Translation is a tough job and translation can lead to errors. Some will say that translations cannot be trusted. Many men and women have spent their lives studying language in order to make sure Scripture is translated correctly. Hundreds of books exist covering every aspect of Koinia Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. Study and research into these languages continues today because people want to be sure that this book from God is understood as best as possible and translated correctly. There is absolutely no way that a person or group of people could get away with mistranslating the Bible without hundreds of others speaking up.

What about the Bible's inspiration? One might look at the evidence presented and say "Okay, so it has all this evidence that it hasn't been changed. So what! It was written by man." First off, if it comes down to the Bible being written by man then why worry about its supposed "revision?" Too many people are looking to find anything wrong and as much as they can just so they don't have to be held to it.

The Bible speaks of itself as being "God-breathed" or "God-inspired." What does this exactly mean? First it means that God had a part in its development. Did God take the hands of its many authors and pen the Bible himself? No. He allowed the authors personalities, environment, circumstances, and etc... be a part of the force that drove them to write. One might say that God's inspiration is somewhat like the inspiration of an artist. A painter sees a beautiful scene in nature and is inspired to recreate it on canvas. A poet is inspired by a circumstance in life. A musician uses elements of his environment growing up as inspiration to write a song. The author's of Scripture were inspired by their relationship with God to write. Their relationship with God directed their pen.

This is the beauty of the Bible. The Bible is, perhaps more then any other Scripture, written in such a way that we can identify with it. As the authors struggle in their relationship with God so do we. As they struggle with life so do we. Something amazing takes place as a result of such struggles. God is given the opportunity to reveal truth into the life of people who are desperately in need of Him. We can trust scripture because it is a combination of the reality of man and his interaction wit God. It contains the truth of being human and God's intervening power. Truth is seen more clearly when it stands up with what is false.

Why would anyone want to write a book that shows the worst of mankind? These authors wrote because of what God does in spite of mankind's nature. The Bible is the reliable Word of God. It has not been changed over the centuries and it was not the imagination of mortal minds. It was the inspiration of God interacting with humankind. It can be trusted to transform lives.

1 comment:

Tonya Root said...

Your post reminds me of something that my mom and I often laugh about when it comes to being able to identify the author's personality in scripture. Paul was such a strong personality. One of our favorite quotes from him comes from 1 Cor. chapter 1. Paraphrasing Paul he says he is glad that he only baptized a couple of guys...okay, he remembers that he also baptized that other guy and his household...okay, fine, he can't really remember if he baptized anyone else, but the point is... :-) It's great to see that, as amazing a man as Paul was, he was still just as human as you and I!