The Nature of the Bible

Where did it come from? If human beings wrote it, how could it be “God’s Word?” How do we know it is really of divine origin, and why should we interpret the cosmos through this one “supreme” lens?

Why are there Missing Verses in the New Testament?

The basis of all certainty is the reception of the Bible as the perfect Word of the only true God. With that as my worldview foundation (and foundation of Interpreting the Cosmos), I’d better be able to reason about what the Bible is, and how it came to us here in the 21st century.

Burn Your NIV

I was brought to repentance and faith in Jesus by reading Psalms of repentance (51, 86, 143), and I had been reading my NIV when it happened. You could imagine my surprise when I found out a few years later that the NIV was missing at least 40 verses! What had happened to Acts 8:37? Why was it stuck down in the footnotes?

36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] [c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Where’d it go?)

And where was Matthew 17:21 and 18:11 and a fistful of other New Testament Scripture? A conspiracy was afoot!

The local King James Onlyists had gotten a hold of me around late 2005. They gave dire warnings that the Satanic cults of mystery Babylon were alive and well in the modern world, and they had perverted all the Bibles except for the pure, only-holy King James Version (of 1611 of course). I was given a copy of Gail Riplinger’s book New Age Bible Versions, and taught all about how I did not have God’s Word if I didn’t have the King James Version.

Who could argue?

Who could argue?

Not the dreadful New King James Version, oh hell no – gimme that old paths, only-perfect, worthy of the Apostle Paul King James Bible… and burn your NIV. And so I began a journey of over seven years now, seeking to know the truth about the Bible’s “missing verses.” Thank y’all, King James Onlyists.

Don’t Burn Your NIV

There is just not that much more I could add here to the thorough refutations the KJV-Onlyists have suffered in the past 20 years. Scholars who love Christ have dismantled their position over and over, so I will leave off a full treatment of the controversy by pointing you to Dr. James White’s King James Only Controversy or D.A. Carson’s The King James Only Debate. The KJV-Only position is the product of a sectarian, elitist, fearful little group of fundamentalists, usually (unfortunately) known by its rancorous, mocking mouthpieces like Peter Ruckman and Sam Gipp (whom I have had the personal misfortune to debate).

No my friends, don’t burn your NIV, “missing” verses and all…

Let’s look at a single example of a missing verse, and see where we go from there.

Did Luke Write Acts 8:37?

The good doctor Luke was a dear friend and traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. He wrote his gospel and the book of Acts after he had “carefully investigated everything” pertaining to the life of Jesus “from the beginning,” telling his friend and sponsor of the book “I too decided to write an orderly account . . . so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4 NIV). The book of Luke is therefore a careful account of the historical events surrounding the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus; and Acts is the careful account of the beginning of His Church.

Yet when Luke recorded the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8, did he write this amazing one verse exchange between them?

37 Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

What an amazing confession of faith! It would be a tremendous witness to the power of the Scripture that the eunuch had been reading moments before Philip met him if he were ready to confess such a direct, clear belief in Jesus as Christ and Son of God.

Yet the historical record is fairly straightforward: Luke probably did not write that verse. How do we know? From the time the New Testament was written, in order for it to be distributed around the Roman Empire, each manuscript had to be copied by hand onto new parchment. This means that over time as hundreds of copies were made, mistakes were made in the exact transfer of the original spelling, wording, sentence order, and even sometimes whole sentences would be accidentally dropped. The study of all the different types of textual mistakes is known as “lower criticism,” or “textual criticism.” Suffice to say, it is a complex, yet necessary science in the securing of our original Bible.

Naughty Little Scribes Added Stuff

Follow me now. This is important: although most reputable textual critics agree that in the 6,000 (or so) original Greek hand copies of the New Testament manuscripts the total number of copyist errors is as high as 400,000, yet there is absolutely no reason to panic. That 400,000 includes hundreds of thousands of spelling mix-ups and obvious mistakes that cast no doubt on the original wording behind them. As a matter of fact, even the greatest skeptics of the New Testament will admit that over 98% of the entire document is certain as to the original wording.

How so? Think of it this way. Let’s say we have 350 partial and full copies of Acts ranging from the mid-second century up through the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth-century (I’m not sure of the actual number, but work with me).  In a particular verse, of the 350 hand-copies of Acts,  335 show the word “Christ,” 13 have nothing there, and 2 have the misspelling “Crhist.” What was the original? In all likelihood, the 335 that have Christ would be original, right? Not so fast – the 13 that have nothing there are mostly from the second – fifth centuries. All those that have Christ are from later centuries.

See that? What becomes obvious is that some naughty little scribe probably added the word somewhere in the sixth or seventh centuries, and his addition was carried forward by all who copied him. It’s pretty clear that the word Christ was not there originally – not a big issue to solve. Furthermore, even if it was there originally, then somehow dropped out for a few centuries only to be added back in, it doesn’t change the meaning of the text either way.

That’s the story of almost all the differences between the manuscripts of the New Testament. Usually it is crystal clear to spot the stuff naughty little scribes added to the text. Why did they add stuff sometimes? Who knows – could be an honest attempt to smooth out a rough sentence, or perhaps there were two different manuscripts to choose from, and rather than risk losing a word from the original, he goes with copying the one that has the additional word… or perhaps it could have been done maliciously at some point by a person or two… but the point is that no one scribe ever has had the power to permanently alter the text of the New Testament. All the other copies that agree against the new reading testify against it, and help us today to make very clear choices about what the original really looked like.

The original New Testament is fully contained within the body of manuscripts preserved from the past 1,900 years of textual transmission.

Back to Acts 8:37

So did Philip ask the Ethiopian Eunuch to make a clear profession of faith before he was baptized? He might have – but Luke probably didn’t write that verse. It’s one of those that shows up in most of the manuscripts of Acts, but not the oldest ones.

This is a very simplistic explanation of the situation, but basically age of manuscripts usually outshines the number of them. 1,000 manuscripts from the tenth century may say Jesus ate strawberry jam, but if three manuscripts from the second century say no such thing (and if those three are from different geographical regions especially), then we know with a high, high degree of certainty that Jesus wasn’t having crumpets and jam on His way home to see Mom.

And so it is with Acts 8:37 – it’s earliest manuscript witnesses are sixth-century and newer, a full 500+ years after Luke wrote. Ask yourself how likely it is that over that 500 year period, the “true” text of Acts 8 was out there somewhere, but lost, and someone finally found it again and *forehead slap* – everyone had been copying Acts without verse 37! Not likely. Easily solved… as with so many New Testament textual variants.

King James and His Kids

The truth about the differences between modern Bibles is that they weren’t all translated from the same ancient manuscripts. The King James Bible, along with the New King James (and a few other minor versions) were translated from Greek copies of the New Testament dating back only to the middle medieval period. At the time when the King James Bible was created (early 1600’s), the manuscripts that were available for comparison were much fewer, and much younger than those we have available today.

No doubt the KJV is a fine Bible, and if you like a literary challenge, it can be comforting to read, but it is not a pristine version of the Scriptures. When you read the KJV, you are getting a translation of a set of manuscripts from the ninth and tenth centuries, on average.

We’ve done better than that in the past 400 years, now having found manuscripts that date to within decades of the writings of the Apostles… in other words, the manuscripts used to translate your NIV, ESV, NASB, HCSB, and many others are much more ancient, reliable, and reflective of the original words written by Jesus’ companions.

HOWEVER – the remarkable thing about it is that whether you read a KJV, NKJV, or one of the Bibles with a better manuscript foundation like an ESV, the differences between them is miniscule, and basically, without any major change to an ounce of theology. The Bible has been handed down to us with some bumps and scrapes, yet in virtually perfect shape. Take it to the bank, my friends.

Sorry to be so Simple!

That was the most elementary explanation of these things you may ever read from someone who is not King James Onlyist. I am only trying to give you a brief overview of the issues at hand, and to help you to know that our Bible, as it is today, is trustworthy as a near-perfect reflection of the original autographs of the writers.

Please leave a question or comment if anything here is foggy, or if I left out some salient point. You can also use the Questions and Comments page at the top right of the blog to correspond with me privately if you would prefer.

I hope that helped someone, and I will attempt more such posts with perhaps some technical lingo in the future.

Here are some links to the experts on the subject:

Daniel Wallace, textual critical scholar of top quality

James White’s Alpha and Omega website

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Interpreting the Cosmos Turns 1

It has been a thrill to begin blogging, and to see thousands of people from almost 80 different countries visit here over my first year. I know I am nowhere near a “big” voice on these here interwebs, but as I write, I pray that I am reaching someone, or someones who desperately need to tune into a passionate Christian voice. God has blessed this endeavor, and I hope you have experienced that with me in some way. Thanks to my subscribers and loyal readers for joining with me in this project. Please come back often to share your thoughts with me, and may God richly bless you in 2013.

Here are my 10 personal favorite posts from 2012 (hard to pick!). Please read them and share with someone who may be benefited by my writings. Grace to y’all!

-Justin

10. Darwin with Cataracts

9. The Bible is the Best Telescope

8. Cozying up to Goliath: Evangelicals and the Military

7. Why Not World Peace?

6. Poem: A Glance at Man

5. The True Meaning of Hanukkah

4. Government in the Image of the People

3. Do Roman Catholics Have the Gospel of Christ?

2. To Crush the Head of Cynicism: Christmas

1. God Wants You Really Filthy Rich!

Categories: Artistic Creations, Comparative Religions, Foundations of ItC blog, Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Jesus the Pinnacle of History, Meaning Woven into Nature, The Message of the Bible, The Nature of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The World’s Most Famous Man Revealed!

Middle East: Almost beyond imagination, archaeologists have found reliable, verified, historically significant documents which were written by the very men who knew the world’s most famous man personally. He lived on earth almost 2,000 years ago, but yet the expansive library of ancient texts which together attest to the direct words of this man show us today that his words are unparalleled in importance among all other words ever written.

His words are unmatched in authority, majesty, and promise. To make things even more mind-blowing, archaeologists have also found even older texts from the centuries before he was ever born, showing hundreds of predictions about his nature, his birth, his life, his death, and even his resurrection from the dead. Statisticians estimate that the odds of one person being able to fulfill all of these predictions is approximately null… impossible, astronomical.1

In other words, the claims and realities surrounding this man’s being are impossible to ignore, refute, or overturn. All signs seem to point to the unavoidable conclusion: God became a Man and lived among us.

There’s only one issue left to tackle: people will do anything to avoid this conclusion. Are you avoiding it?

1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (NASB).

————————————————————

1. Les Krantz, What the Odds Are (HarperPerennial, 1992).

Categories: The Message of the Bible, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Word on Interpreting Scripture and Church Authority

In Light of Our Sharp Division on Interpreting God’s Word…

Although our Roman Catholic friend Letting Smoke Out has entirely differing views from myself on almost everything related to the authority to teach the Scriptures, I still believe there is enough of a contact point in the Bible for us to proceed with this dialogue. LSO assumes that only the Roman Catholic leadership has the ability to interpret the Scriptures, and I assume on the other hand, as have so many of my Christian predecessors, that the Holy Spirit is the light of truth and authority. He does not speak only to a few men in Rome, but rather the Apostolic faith is carried among those who have received the gospel as a gift by grace through faith. Priesthood of believers, you know? Peter calls us a royal priesthood there in 1 Peter 2:9 – and he was speaking to the general congregation of Christians, not a special class of clergymen.

LSO and I do not have the space or time to debate all of the many historical issues surrounding early Christianity and how the Bible was canonized, etc… however, I believe we can at least look at the Scriptures and agree that since it is God’s infallible Word, that it is the authority concerning our religion and lives. If anyone teaches anything contrary to the Scriptures, it is nullified and furthermore, dangerous.

In light of this, I will briefly challenge a couple of points in LSO’s opening remarks. Although much of what he wrote is fraught with logical and historical fallacies, the main issue I have to mention is from this quote:

If the Bible is clear then why do so many Christian faith communities disagree about interpretation?  […]Why are there over thirty thousand denominations?  This reality proves there needs to be one authorized interpreter of scripture.

The picture you paint is majorly skewed. You know as well as I do that within so-called Catholicism (from the Greek for “Universal”), there is anything but uniformity of doctrine. The Catechism has as many interpretations as professors, and your number includes hundreds of orders, sects, schismatics, and dissidents. This is, however, besides the point of “the path of salvation,” yet I have to at least try to let some air out of that balloon before we look at the doctrine of salvation. It is not “Bible Only” as LSO’s post is entitled, but rather “Bible is Supreme,” and all doctrine must be aligned with what God has said in His explicit revelation.

In conclusion of this point, I must use absurdity to illustrate. LSO states:

Private interpretation means every single Christian can claim to be their own church; every single piece of scripture can be seen in a different light; every belief can be unique.

Yes, and there may be giraffes on Pluto – giraffes which chew bubble gum and do calculus, but it is the furthest thing from an accurate, realistic hypothesis. It is a similar idea with this “every Christian for himself” canard which Roman Catholics seem to play. The question is not, are there 3,000 or 30,000 denominations and interpretations, but rather, “did God speak clearly so as to be understood?”

Rules of Interpreting Scripture: Context, Context, and Context

I, and my legacy of 1,900 years of my orthodox Christian predecessors would stand together and say “yes!” – God has spoken so as to be understood. The problem is not a lack of a central authority to interpret, but rather the presence of sin in our fallen flesh – pride, arrogance, lusts, and all forms of selfishness obscure the clear proclamation and interpretation of God’s Word.

Not every passage is simple, but there are sure means of staying within the bounds of orthodoxy and sanity. I will use the historical/grammatical method of interpretation, that is, the writer had a specific meaning to which he wrote using specific words, grammar, and syntax. The Holy Spirit who was promised to every believer is alive and enlightening the mind as I read Scripture. I could go on concerning the interpretation of Scripture, but suffice to say, when the Bible says “red,” it does not mean “blue.”

Read with care...

1 John 2:26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

LSO, would it be alright to move on to the topic at hand, and if you’d like to hash out the authority issue further, we could do so via private e-mail? Our readers are surely informed of our foundational positions concerning authority.

I am going to move immediately into the topic “The path of salvation” after this is published, and will attempt to publish that one within hours.

Grateful for the Bible – and for LSO,

-Justin

Parts in this series:

Do Roman Catholics have the Gospel of Christ?“- Interpreting the Cosmos

Apologetics” – Letting the Smoke Out

Dialogue with a Roman Catholic – Introductory Remarks” – Interpreting the Cosmos

Bible Only” – Letting the Smoke Out

Roman Catholic Opening Remarks” – Interpreting the Cosmos

Categories: Comparative Religions, The Message of the Bible, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Earth: the Cosmic Gloryground of God

I use Twitter as my only internet social network (less baggage than the others). Recently I saw as evangelist Ray Comfort tweeted a pro-life statement concerning the personhood of the unborn. In reply, a guy called @JimtheAtheist called Ray a “s***stain” and derided him as a fool. I then began to converse with Jim, touching on a number of different subjects surrounding belief and worldview over the course of at least a week. Jim’s very telling final comment in our exchange is here:

See that? It seems he is not so much an atheist, but more of an anti-theist. Jim seems to interpret the cosmos as a universe which could have been created by someone, but if that someone does not fit his idea of what a good God should be like, if He doesn’t speak as Jim feels He should speak, then Jim, (and in extension what seems to be many anti-theists on the march these days), rejects the God of the Bible as the true and rightful ruler of the cosmos and spends his life trying to get others to do the same.

Now I am not trying to pick on Jim for personal reasons – as a matter of fact I appreciate that he is passionate about his worldview. One thing which stinks like 9-day-dead raccoon on a country road is an apathetic, non-thinking person who blows in the wind of what other people tell them to think and do. So Jim gets the badge of honor for at least having a worldview, and for attempting to persuade others to think like he does.

On the other hand, the anti-theists among us are like passionate gnats beating their heads against Mt Everest. The frantic drive to dethrone the Lord of the cosmos will be as successful as an Eskimo selling ice, or even worse. The never-ending conversation between Christians and anti-Christians in the ultimate sense doesn’t matter: in this conflict, either the Bible is truly God’s Word and to believe otherwise is suicide, or there is no God and we will return to the unfeeling dust of the cosmos in a few years, consciousness eternally ceased.

What you or I believe does not change the reality and truth under which we live, whatever that reality may be.

Yet what each of us believes does matter – and it matters forever.

This is the interpretation of the cosmos as we look through the lens of the Bible. So let’s look through the lens of God’s Word to see how God sees you.

Although you are only a speck of cosmic dust, you’ve been created in the image of God and therefore have profound, magnificent dignity as a person. The implications are far-reaching! That means that the most mentally-disabled child who cannot ever work a day in his little life, who offers nothing to his parents and who can only take from society is as valuable as Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, or Mother Theresa.

Because of His valuing of each person, we have inherent dignity. Being created in the image of God is an astonishing honor! It is unique to the human race! When the question of life on other planets comes up, I have no problem believing that there are mind-blowing types of plants and animals scattered around the cosmos on gorgeous planets of teal, green, blue, and purple. Yet the Bible seems to show that the earth is the one and only place in all the unfathomable reaches of the universe which has been set apart as special. It is the stage of God’s redemptive history.

It is indeed the stage where God placed the human race who bears His image – the showpiece of the cosmos!

Privileged, unique, wonderful earth...

But above and beyond all of that, the earth is the place where God the Son poured out His eternal, unspeakable glories and willingly became flesh… even to become a peasant baby born in an animal stable. The eternal Jesus became human, was born of the Virgin Mary, grew up, and walked on this planet. But even beyond that honor, this planet had the blood of the God-Man Jesus shed upon it. He willingly became man, and willingly laid down His pure, perfect life on a Roman death cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. To begin to describe this glory, or further, the glory of His rising from the dead 3 days later, would be to pretend that words can capture infinity.

And yet I write. I write for each of us to spiritually feed and be filled upon the glorious truth of the Bible. The Creator of the cosmos has given us the Word which interprets His cosmos, and which reveals His intimate, personal work among humanity to redeem us from our rebellion against Him.

This Word reveals that Jesus is the Creator of the cosmos, and has become the re-creator of the new humanity in Him. The Bible clearly explains how sin has separated us from Him, and darkened the minds of those who have not trusted in Jesus for their reconciliation to God. He has spoken by His Holy Spirit through the pens of men to reveal a perfect record of His creation and redemption of fallen mankind.

For our friends like @Jimtheatheist, there is absolutely nothing about this which makes sense, or which sounds like salvation. It sounds like nonsense and ridiculousness. Yet the wildest thing is that we are all @Jimtheatheist. He is no worse than me – we are equally fallen and wretched at birth. None of us earns the right to enjoy and have fellowship with the Lord of the cosmos, yet we who are in Christ are better off because of the atonement of Christ Jesus on our behalf, and the application of it to our life by His Holy Spirit. The record of my sin is wiped away – I am a friend of God because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The antitheists would have many contradicting arguments, yet no matter what they say, the Bible is precious because it is God’s Word, and especially because it reveals Jesus. The Bible interprets the cosmos because it was inspired word by word by the Creator of the cosmos. His focus is Jesus, and humanity being gathered together to Him, some for redemption and eternal life, and some for judgment and eternal punishment. If your interpretation of the cosmos leads you away from this central, absolute truth, then I beg you to test your conclusions in the light of God’s truth – His Word the Bible.

If your life does not center on Jesus; His eternal nature as the 2nd Person of the Triune God, His true humanity as the Messiah/Christ of Israel, His perfect atonement for the sin of all who will trust in Him, His resurrection from the dead for our justification, and His eternal place of glory, reigning as King of the cosmos… then it is time to check your heart and life in submission to Him.

In my future posts, I will get into greater detail about the good news in the Bible – its focus on Jesus; His remarkable, unique life, and His historical truth claims which rocked the world down to our day… always with a reminder of how we should then live and interpret the cosmos.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, The Message of the Bible, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sweet! Voddie Baucham on the Reliability of the Bible

If I had to make a short list of most gifted, intelligent, powerful pastors/thinkers alive today, Voddie Baucham would be at or right near the top.

In line with my recent posts on the Bible, this 5 part video is an excellent supplement to my discussions with you concerning the reliability of the biblical record. You won’t regret watching this – Pastor Baucham is very swift, humorous, and informative. After the end of the video, YouTube will place the next part in the series in the choices that pop up. Be sure to watch through at least the first 3.

Check. It. Out.

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Are You a Radical Bible Skeptic?

Here’s a question you might ask yourself: how much evidence would be enough to satisfy me in demonstrating the Bible as inerrant and perfect in its historicity, and that it is the unique Word of God? Many scholars and ordinary people seem to be demanding, without saying it out loud, that we would need to see recorded footage of the historical events in order to believe the Bible as history. This underlying assumption belies an extreme skepticism which, in order to be consistent, would have to question whether George Washington was really the President of the United States. Is this a description of you? This thinking masquerades as “intellectualism” but is actually shown to be a hard-core presupposed assumption that there can be nothing supernatural in this here cosmos.

Is that you? Do you scoff at the miraculous parting of the Red Sea because “things like that don’t happen”?

If you are a hard-line skeptic, then I suppose even if I could show you film footage of Jesus rising from the dead, that you would object that it was a re-enactment and a hoax. Therefore, I am mainly speaking to those of you who have an open mind to think critically and honestly about the evidence and beauty of the historical and theological records in the Bible. Once the prejudices one is holding have been challenged and discarded, there opens up a cosmic vision of glory and beauty and pleasure which would be impossible for the hardcore skeptic.

So let’s interpret the nature of the Bible… One of the more fascinating ways to check the history of the Bible is to study archaeological finds from the Middle East. A good sampling of sources claim that there are more than 25,000 archaeological finds which confirm just the Old Testament history. Keep in mind that the great majority of the Bible is narrative which can be placed in an historical setting – a specific location, people, and set of events. This opens it up to being scrutinized for accuracy against the archaeological record, (and by the way is a very bold move if you are trying to create a fictional story as if it were true) . You would think that if the biblical authors were making it all up as myth, that there would be scads of digging which would turn up the truth of the matters and overturn the Bible as a reliable history of the cosmos.

Yet that doesn’t happen.

Infamous 19th century atheist skeptic Sir William Ramsay decided to once for all prove the Bible wrong by attacking the book of Luke, archaeologically. His forays into the Middle East and ancient Greek world turned him into a Bible believing Christian after every archaeological study he attempted proved Luke to have been accurate to the greatest detail.

As an example, the Book of Mormon on the other hand is filled with faulty history, even claiming that the Native Americans are the descendents of the Israelite Jews. The Quran also shows itself to be definitively human as the author did not even know what the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was, over 500 years after the completion of the New Testament; claiming that the Trinity according to Christians was Father, Son, and Mary. If the God of the Quran truly was God, then do you think he would know what Christians had believed and preached for hundreds of years?

With all of our archaeological work, we continue to find evidence corroborating the biblical record. 40+ authors writing over the course of 1,500+ years starting almost 4,000 years ago, and their witness is found to be accurate and true. Wow! I love the Bible and its unified, glorious interpretation of the cosmos. Have you looked through it by faith? Or are you continuing to presume that for the Bible to be truly God’s Word, it would have to be truly simple, non-supernatural, and filled with video recordings of the events it depicts?

Besides all of the exciting physical, historical evidence for the biblical record, there is the overriding power of its composition. If and because it is the true, unique Word from the unique God, it is therefore able to transform people as they read it and believe it. This is the witness of God’s Spirit.

In my next post, I will begin to commend the Bible to you as not only the supreme lens through which to interpret the cosmos in general, but the only true and undefiled lens through which to interpret your own self. When you see yourself through the lens of God’s Word, you can also see the beauty and glory of the entire story of redemption, and how it applies to you. I hope you are hungry for delicious, fulfilling truth.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Bible is the Best Telescope

It is the most important conclusion you will ever draw – is the Bible truly God’s Word – and is its testimony about Jesus true? I contend that one cannot know the purpose of the cosmos without it, and therefore one cannot enjoy the pleasures of the cosmos without looking through this unique, supernatural lens.

The Bible says that the reason people do not believe in its divine origin is because of our sin nature, inherited from Adam. If you think that is circular logic, I challenge you to read on with an open mind and be ready to think deeply and to allow the searchlight of God’s truth to pierce the innermost parts of your heart and mind. If I am wrong, you have lost nothing by being open-minded.

The Bible claims to be not just a cosmic lens, but the ultimate cosmic lens. The claim is that humanity is like a bunch of car accident victims with amnesia who walk around looking at the cosmos asking “who am I?”

“Where did I come from?”

“Who are my mommy and daddy?”

“Why do I do the things I do?”

To get the answers to our deepest questions, we need one who was there at the beginning to tell us the narrative of history, because we have forgotten ourselves, and we have forgotten our Maker. We need the direct story from the mouth of the One who spoke it all into existence. We need a supernatural, inspired word from the omniscient Creator.

The claim of the Bible is that when one humbly looks through its lens, the cosmos as a whole is translated and finds proper unity and purpose. Mighty mysteries are solved. Through the lens of the Bible the world of men which each day seems so chaotic and filled with random evil is seen as a perfectly governed realm which has been created to serve and magnify the Creator.

Most importantly, the Bible is all about one central figure, Jesus. The point of all of history and the Scriptures is to reveal Him as the axis upon which the cosmos turns, and the Originator of human history. What you believe about Him is more important than anything else you could ever ponder. This is why your conclusion about the Bible is all-important – it claims that your beliefs about Jesus will determine how you live, and how you are ultimately judged by God. Hebrews 1:3b says “[Jesus] upholds all things by the word of His power.” That means He is God. Believe it or not, that’s the claim.

We have to look at the transcendent glory of the Bible to understand its true nature. The interwoven meta-narrative of the Bible tells of its genius. I have seen the screeds of the critics as they pick apart individual passages and stand as judges over the Bible. Many naysayers gleefully find the culturally strange and macabre parts of the Bible and because of that declare it all to be a fairy-tale, all the while not seeming to consider that it is the story of humanity, which is strange and macabre. “Missing the woods for the trees” would be an understatement here.

When one begins to see by faith through the lens of the Scriptures, written over the course of 1,500+ years, penned by more than 40 different authors from across the spectrum of humanity, and to behold the unity, clarity, and literary masterpiece in our hands, then one begins to draw near to the Author behind the authors. Each passage from Genesis to Revelation is a signpost pointing us to Jesus Christ the glorious Master of the cosmos.

How do we begin to trace out the evidence for all of this? We look at internal consistency: Same God, same attributes from Old to New Testaments. Things written in the Old Testament are echoed in the New, and things revealed in the New were hinted at in the Old. Keep in mind, 40+ authors over 1,500+ years, all writing about the same God, all saying the same things about humanity… but most importantly, all testifying to Jesus either directly or indirectly. Items of seeming discrepancy remain on the surface, but with careful study are seen as the different shaped cogs and gears within the same machine, working together to produce a unified story.

Within the big-picture of consistency and uniformity concerning the message and object of the Bible, there are literally hundreds and thousands of explicit or implicit claims that it is God who is speaking. On its face this proves nothing, but again I exhort you to consider the astonishing fact of many different, dissonant authors claiming the exact same thing on numerous items of discussion. Try getting 40 – 50 people in the same room from even the same time period to all agree completely on anything, let alone the subject of religion and identity of God… good luck.

Democats over Republipups!

Next post I will discuss some of the stunning external evidences which support the historicity of the Bible.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is the Bible a Good Cosmic Lens?

Let's take a closer look

If the Bible is truly the unique and only Word from the unique and only God, then there should be a blog post about it.

Best selling book of all-time, preserved in remarkable fashion, loved by billions, hated by billions, sadly unknown to millions, claiming to be the sole infallible revelation of the sole, reigning, eternal God of the cosmos. Is it a good lens through which to see ourselves and to accurately interpret the cosmos? If it is truly the unique Word of God who is omniscient, then of course it is the lens through which we ought to look to see our world and universe.

Mocked, ridiculed, torn apart by critics, misinterpreted by wild-eyed zealots and politicians, scorned by the elite of the world, scoffed at by many of all classes, embraced to the death by believers, banned by the Roman Catholic Church of the middle-ages, burned by Muslims and Hindus, prohibited by Communists, patronized by the self-righteous and religious, outright dismissed by atheists and the indifferent, and generally controversial to the human race. There is nothing else like it.

So, what is the Bible? Basically, a library… of sorts.It is a collection of the specific, directly inspired, perfectly recorded words which God intended to be written. It stands above any other literature as the sole infallible (can’t be wrong), inerrant (whatever it addresses is perfectly accurate), and sufficient (has every necessary answer for life and godliness) book of absolute truth. There is nothing else like it.

You see, the Bible is different from other religious texts because it was written over 1,500+ years by at least 40 authors. Books like the Qur’an and Book of Mormon were written within the lifetime of one person, dictated or written by them, and which are obviously dependent on human understanding, as there are simple, basic flaws in them concerning history and archaeology (they are not inerrant).

The Bible, on the other hand, is a composition of daunting proportion. It was begun around 4,000 years ago and completed around 2,000 years ago. Its 66 parts/books/letters were written by men who lived in all different places such as Israel, Greece, Italy, modern day Turkey, modern day Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and possibly other places. The writers were diverse as well: kings, peasants, farmers, court officials, fishermen, lawyers, doctors, and the list goes on. The focus of each letter could range from a short “hello/exhortation” to a small group of Christians, (3 John), all the way up to an enormous book of songs for a nation to use for 1,000+ years – (Psalms). There is narrative history, poetry, law code, and apocalyptic visions. There is material which would be too gruesome for even an “R” rating at the movie theaters, and yet it is a true and unvarnished look at human history and the redemptive actions of the one true Lord of the cosmos. There is really nothing even close to it.

The one and only...

Let’s be sure that no matter what our conclusion about the Bible, that it is informed, carefully researched, and honest. I have much to learn, yet have been convinced beyond description of the Bible’s perfection as the revelation of the Creator. Though I yearn for the same conviction to visit each of you, I understand it ultimately takes a work of the Holy Spirit to convince someone of what the Bible truly is. I don’t have that power, which actually frees me to speak without needing to bring negatively slanted coercion. Let’s seek the truth!

I will post some more on the Bible in general, and then in future posts move into topics like prophecy, internal and external evidences, etc. I hope you’re hungry to learn and think critically.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.