Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's not what it looks like

Why do we believe the bible is the inspired word of God?

I don't get it. I mean, I love the bible, and I read it everyday. But I don't know WHY I'm supposed to think that this is the word of God, perfect in everyway. I mean, there's no proof. Well, not that I know of.

A bunch of MEN I've never heard of decided what is and what is not. Were they really Christians? And even if they were, were they right? And is there even such a thing as the Perfect and Inspired word of God? I dunno.

It puzzles me.

What would it mean if the Bible WASN'T what it's supposed to be?


andrew brown said...

Hey shaz that's something that I've been struggling with for a while now. Also things like, a lot of traditions we have, and beliefs we hold in the church, where did they come from because often they don't seem like they come from the bible.

There were over 20 gospel accounts running around back in the day, but we only got 4 or them, so are we missing out? and who decided which ones to use and which ones to discard?

faith is what we need to believe the bible is the word of god, and maybe I'm just lacking that faith myself because I really really struggle with it.

Sharyn said...

Hey Andrew for once we agree. I don't think that it's just that we are lacking in faith though. Even the Bible doesn't seem to say that we should believe in it. I don't know. Maybe we should just have faith.

But that doesn't even make sense. We should just believe the Bible. WHY should we beleve it?

andrew brown said...

1 thing about the bible, is that we forget it's 66 books and not one big book. Like the scripture that says if you change this you will go to hell or something, that scripture wasn't written for a book somewhere in the future (from the point of the writer) but fo that book alone. How could the writers of each individual book have known it would be compiled as it was in the future?

It doesn't say anywhere we should believe it but clearly as the Bible is the ONLY thing we have that shows us God, that is why we should believe it, if we want to believe in God. Apart from the Bible what do we have? Revelation? Yeah right, unless we can back up revelation 100% with in-context scripture then it's useless anyway. And then it's no different to the bible.

Rayd said...

I have thought about this question too. I am always reassured by the realisation that This is God's world. Why do we suddenly have 66 books that are acclaimed to be the word of God? Because God deems it so, that's why. We (early Christians) cried out to Him, and He answered. He answered by guiding us to compile the most elaborate thing ever conceived on this earth. Not by man, but by God.
I know God has a purpose and a plan for everyone's lives. For each and every individual life. We have an option, an individual, personal decision, to either follow that destiny or to reject it. I believe some people chose to follow that destiny and their particular purpose (or part of the purpose God had for them) was to compile God's works in a book that would bring countless (countless by man at any rate) people to salvation.
That's my opinion anyway.

andrew brown said...

the catholic bible has more than 66 books..... how do we know we're right and they aren't? i don't think they are right, but it makes you think, they are 100% sure of what they believe, just like muslims (in fact, judging by their day-to-day attitudes i'd say their faith was stronger than most christians) but we're convinced they're wrong.

"We (early Christians) cried out to Him, and He answered." what do you mean by this? where is the evidence of this?

the problem with the bottom part of your argument is that we've seen countless christians, in the name of God, attempt to do something they truely believed was God's work and fail. how do we know that didn't happen with the bible? well, clearly we understand and believe that the bible is how God wanted it to end up right? that doesn't go anywhere to explain the catholics having extra books then because both the prodestant and catholic bible were compiled by jehova-God loving christians...

Sharyn said...

Further to the point, the 'Catholic' Bible was the original, in case you dirty proddy dogs have forgotten, the Catholic Church is the ORIGINAL church. Prodestantism is a sect that split off from the Catholic church a few hundred years ago.

andrew brown said...

sorry sharyn but you can't make a comment like that and not give the reason for it, if anybody reads that they might think that the proddys have got it all wrong, but i urge people to study up about the reformation then because the catholic church has been VERY dirty over the years (not that the prodestant church hasn't been, anyone heard of the crusades?) but (as an example) does everybody know that at one time the catholic church had 3 popes, one who had bought the papacy?

Sharyn said...

Sheesh Andrew, I was kidding about the dirty thing, and I think that was pretty obvious. The big give away might be that I go to Protestant Church. But I also go to Catholic church. As for which is dirty and the crusades and your alleged three popes, who the heck cares? The Catholic church gets things right that the Protestants get wrong, and vice versa. Plus, even lumping all Catholics and all Protestants into homogenous and opositional camps is quite a ridiculous and utterly meaningless exercise. In the end, it's just a matter of taste.

andrew brown said...

well yes and no, it's not just taste, but i was simply making a point, see most christians these days take what they are given from their 'leaders' and don't really check out the truth for themselves, which is why people end up not even knowing why exactly the catholics and the others have different scripture. there is a reason for it, so what is it? it's not a meaningless exercise to study church history to work out why things are different

and what is it that the catholics get right that the others don't?

ElizabethB said...

Is it valid to quote the Bible to prove it is inspired?
"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." 2 Timothy 3:16,17
Sounds a useful and inspired book.

Or for more Look at Psalm 19:7-11
Really good stuff.

andrew brown said...

Is it valid to quote the Bible to prove it is inspired?

depends if it's in context or not.

the context of your passage, was paul writing a letter to timothy, the scripture he refers to is what we know as the old testament. paul had no way of knowing that letters ciculating at the time of his life were going to be compiled into what we use as the bible.

so while it is a good scripture, and so is your psalms one, it's not entirely relevant here. sure, it points out that we should study the OT but no instructions on the NT. I guess we can gather reason from this to read the NT though.

ElizabethB said...

Do you not think Paul knew he was writing under inspiration. This much inspiration and the guy just had to know God was in it! I think you are assuming he didn't know its lasting value.

andrew brown said...

so what about his other letters he wrote that didn't get included? maybe he thought they'd have lasting value but they obviously didnt. he got ripped off there...

Paul had no idea what God was going to do with his letters, to think that Paul knew the future? Only God knows that.

Rayd said...

sorry to backtrack but
"we've seen countless christians, in the name of God, attempt to do something they truely believed was God's work and fail."

Who are we to decide they have failed? Every action has a consequence. A consequence can change things seen and unseen. For instance someone could be born because someone fell over. Why? because someone fell over and because of this someone else went to their aide, yet another person saw this caring person and fell in love with them, building up enough courage they talked to the person and they ended up getting married and having a child.

To more relevant issues, I don't necessarily disagree with the Catholic books, but i have only glanced at them as oppose to reading the other books of the "protestant" bible all the time. I agree with Sharyn on her view of catholic/protestant issue being irrelevant. Who cares what you are? We both see Jesus as our saviour. And yes we do both get things wrong.

I think belief in the bible really comes down to the question "Do you risk believing this is really the word of God and put your faith in it that it is, or do you think it was written by pious men who loved God and wrote as men on their views?"

Or something like that anyway.

andrew brown said...

you're right, i chose my words poorly. as a calvinist i should think the opposite the most! doesn't mean to say we can just do what we want though. the catholics, implicitely have more of a works-based faith that a grace based one

::Shannon:: said...

we can believe that Scripture is God-inspired because of
1) the internal consistency b/w oT and NT despite numerous, different writers, controversial subject matter, long time span (1500 years) and cultural and language differences
2) the historicity of the OT and NT
3) fulfilled predictive prophecy
4) biomedical prescience = dietary laws and agricultural regulations of the ancient Hebrews, and practices such as male circumcision (who would have ever thought THAT was a healthy idea?) - but God protected His people and told them specifics BEFORE science could confirm them
5) OT typology - persons and events foreshadow NT

and we can know the OT canon is accurate and approved by God:
1) Jesus himself used the OT and considered it error-free
2) Pharisees, first-century Jews and apostles treated it as a unit

and for the NT canon:
1) Jesus hinted at it being written (John 16:12-13a, 14:26)
2) unanimity in early church

and it can be historically accurate because it passes 3 tests:
1) internal test (there are eyewitness accounts)
2) external test (archeology and church father documents)
3) bibliographic test (countless number of manuscripts exist and only within a few hundred years of the original copies - which is abs. remarkable!)

...i know that's a lot of head knowledge stuff, but i pray that you (and i and others) will find heart knowledge in the Word of God as inspired, true and applicable to our lives!

ElizabethB said...

Wow, Shannon, ya said a mouthful there kid! Couldn't have put it better me self :)

andrew brown said...

just to be a spanner in the works (to make people think more than doubt) ::shannon:: you can apply those rules to the koran and they work to...

Andrew said...

Andrew Brown- Koran/Quaran is one of the most inaccurate & contracting books around.

Iain said...

Hey, Shaz :)

I don't mean to sound like total wet blanket, but basically the only reasons we have to say that the Bible is the inspired "Word of God" are faith-based ones.

I know that there are really good sounding arguments (e.g. Shannon's impressive list), but I would wager that all of those can be either shown to be wrong, irrelevant to our exact question, or basically able to be "explained away". (For example, if we are analysing whether scripture is what it is, we can't use any proofs quoted from Scripture itself - that is like using the contents of a court witness testimony to prove to the Judge whether the very testimony itself is a lie or not)

But I'm not here to hack anything down or prove anything wrong. In fact, all power to the Bible. But my point is just that this seems to exist fairly solidly as a matter of faith, and very little else.

I would think, of course, that the topic such as how the canon was formed is quite important, and how we got the manuscripts that we did etc. I myself have been wondering the impact of the various people involved in the creation of the Canon. One wonders what our Bible might have looked like had there been a democratic majority of voting women involved. It wasn't until AD367 that they even called the certain restricted number of texts our "canon of truth", and this only happened starting with intense persecution in the 4th century. After all, if the early-ish Christian community were going to stand firm on their faith, they had to sit down and sort out which bits were actually their faith ;)

Of course, many people find such questions scary. Fair enough. If its easier to go with what you know, then I'd say that you can probably rest fairly happy knowing that there is a vast Church tradition behind you and smarter people than any of us have argued about it for longer. But, if you're like me, then you'll ask these questions; that's pretty good if you ask me, how else can you come to your own conclusions?

Sharyn said...

Hey Iain,

Thanks for your comment, it was very constructive. I shall elaborate on my current position in a post.


Thank you also for yours, it was obviously so well thought out and, I might add, helpful to my thoughts.

Aaron said...

I would suggest reading the Word of God Chapters of Wayne Grudhams (sp) book Systematic Theology. While it might seem like a hassle to track it down, if you are really interested I think you would find it helpful.

A. J. Chesswas said...

At last, someone is having this conversation! I don't think it's necessary or helpful to ever make the statement "The Bible is the isnpired word of God". What's the point? It's more helpful to discuss that which has been impressed on our hearts - the existence of God, and our own spirituality, honour and dignity; and on our conscience - our sinfulness, our rebellion against God and our ability to choose (freewill). Then to consider God's grace to us in that despite our sin and rebellion we still have life on this beautiful planet, and that hope within us that even though we are sinful God will have eternal mercy on us...

Then the context of all of these most natural thoughts to consider the record of Jesus Christ - The Lamb of God, the mystery of God's mercy made known to us... Then to consider the words and teachings he gave, built upon the law and the prophets, which ALL came back to the greatest two commandments - "Love God and love your neighbour"... And we know in our hearts that love is all those things listed in 1 Corinthians 13...

When we read The Bible we know it is true not because of all the "historical proofs" and whatnot, but because in it our spirit recognises the voice of our saviour, our shepherd (John 10)...

I was just thinking this yesterday: most arguments people put up for the authority of The Bible are the sort that Shannon suggested, and all of these can be open to debate. If one was to be truly studious and sincere in testing the validity of those arguments it would take them months and months of study...

But we know months and months of study is not what makes a person Christian. It is, instead, their response to our creator - The God of love. It is their willingness to accept his authority and also his love and grace, and to then pass on that love, grace and peace to the whole planet...

I think that to try and convince someone of The Bible's authority with objective proof is a waste of time. I believe the truths of the gospel because they speak to me, they resonate with my soul. The only way people can have that same faith is to simply open up the Bible and see if it speaks to them too.

Are you scared it might not speak to them? That they need proof? Does it really take that much faith for you to believe those wonderful truths of the Christian faith. Come on, it's just obvious, and if people say they can't believe it has more to do with their rebellion than the weight of their intellect.