Can We Trust The Bible? | Jan. 23rd Worship Gathering
Pastor Jordan's Presentation
How was the bible written? (Understanding Canon)
Many people criticize the Bible for being a story book, it is written as fiction and how can we believe such a thing?
Not only is the Bible infallible, perfect and God’s Inherent, authoritative word but it also holds no contradictions and can be fully trusted.
Well, if it is fiction written by one person or “few” people then it is the most impressive piece of fiction ever put together. 40 authors penned the bible over a period of 1000+ years (1000 years for the OT and around 70 years for the NT). Mark is believed to have the source of Peter’s testimony, Luke traveled with the apostles and penned down eye-witness testimony of Jesus’ ministry, Matthew wrote Matthew and John wrote John–this means that these contain eye-witness primary sources of Jesus and the early church (church fathers) called these books Apolostolic. The NT Canon’s validity comes from being Apolostolic, Jude is believed to be Apolstolic and may have been a teacher during the church of Acts. These were written and put together 60-90 years after Jesus’ life and ministry.
“If God Inspired Any Books out there then there is a Canon of inspired books out there, whether we have them or not. Then the question is ‘Do we have the right one?’” – Mike Winger
Canon 1: Man’s list of writings
Canon 2: God’s authoritative writings (James White)
We have to understand that the bible started with the Torah, the books of law or the first five books of our current biblical canon (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). The main way of passing tradition or text down to one another was through an oral tradition. In theological, scholarly circles it is now consensus that Moses was the writer of these five books, Moses took oral tradition and wrote it down.
The bible has over 58000 secondary manuscripts that have been found in the Common Greek (Koine Greek), 10,000 Latin Manuscripts, and 9,000 “other” manuscripts, totalling 24,000 manuscripts in total (The most for any ancient document.)
The bible (66 books) was written over a thousand year span by many different authors all telling ONE STORY. The story of God saving, redeeming a sinful world through sending Jesus to die on the cross, rise again and save humanity from their own sin.
God’s community has always viewed these writings to have complete authority in their lives. The Scriptures have INHERENT authority from God. (Whether you recognize or not the scriptures have this otherworldly authority) However, The catholic church believes that the scripture has authority because the church has given it authority–its the authority of the church versus an INHERENT authority from God. The right view of the bible is that it is INHERENTLY from God. This would align with the early church, and early church fathers.
(*Brendan’s Note: I would say instead that the books are authoritative because they are God’s words to his church and the early church officially recognized this authority. This does not mean that the Bible derived its authority from the church. This only means that the early church officially recognized which books are legitimately scripture to ward off apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings.)
Hebrew scriptures today (OT) contain 39 books just as our christian bible does today, meaning Jesus, Paul and the apostles affirmed and used the 39 book OT canon. This gives us trust knowing that our early church fathers (and the person whom we worship) affirmed the complete 39 book canon (OT). 40+ Authors wrote the OT and there is a thousand year period from Genesis (Moses) to Malachi. The New Testament was written over a 70 year span (much shorter period compared to the OT).
The Bible is consistent–it tells one consistent story containing historical events which all prophecy about Jesus and fulfill the prophecy of Jesus. (Genesis 3, Genesis 5, the whole book of Isaiah, 1 Samuel 1&2 is a parallel to the messiah being born, Joel 3 is a fulfilled prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, Isaiah 9:1-7 directly compares to the new end times prophecy given to the church in Thessalonica in 1 Thess. 5). These books and writings are separated by different authors, different geographical locations
The Didache 100AD (means teachings) this was a collection of the early apostles’ teachings for the early christian church. This compilation plainly calls out Matthew as scripture. It is written or compiled (10 years before Ignatius’ death) confirming that the Apolstolic writings in these books are scripture. Scripture is an important word rather than using the word “written” or “Important”. This word “Scripture” implies that this gospel is the written law, it is commanded and must be adhered to. The Didache makes a similar parallel to the Deutoronomy curse in Deut. 27 and 28 when talking about “changing the written law or not following the written law.” This means that the compilers of The Didache (and later Ignatious who will call these early writings “scripture”) were affirming these early writings as God’s infallible word. This compilation of teachings and collection would have been put together a generation after the apostles’ lives (early early church) It is consensus among scholars that John would have been still alive during the time of the Didache.
The “Gospel of Thomas” was never accepted by the church because of its pseudepigraphal nature and because the core teaching contained a heresy called gnosticsm. This is important to note: Some criticize christianity and say that this time period of the early church INVENTED Jesus (or they were still deciding who Jesus was). This is not true. The early church was compiling and writing PRIMARY sourced gospels and scripture to defend Jesus and what the true gospel is. This is even happening before councils were formed to continue affirming the NT and defending the true nature of Jesus. The church was not inventing Jesus–they were defending Jesus.
The Bible and Contradictions
Many atheists and skeptics will say that the Bible cannot be trusted because of its many contradictions.
It may seem that the bible disagrees with itself and that God changes throughout the bible but we have to be careful not to put our modern bias and expectations onto the scripture when studying it.
Two major perceived “contradictions” in the Gospels.
The temptation of Christ in Matthew 4:8 and Luke 4:9 have Jesus going through his final temptation in two different places. The Matthew account has Jesus standing on a mountain, and in Luke Jesus is standing on a high temple. So does this mean that both gospels are lying? Which one is correct? Remember that the gospels have different theological emphasis. Matthew emphasizes the mountain motif and Luke emphasizes the significance of the temple in His gospel. Both gospels show the authority that Christs have over the world and that He does not give into Satan with this temptation. (Car and Van Analogy)
There seems to be two different lineages of Jesus when looking at Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 this must mean that someone is lying and that humans are just making this up about Christ? Eusebius was a church historian from the 300 that pondered this question and researched these two different lineages. He favored the views of a man named Julius Africanus who was born in 160AD (roughly) and He cited material and people that had traveled to Israel and knew the descendants of Jesus’ half brothers and sisters. Africanus says in his writings that the difference in the lineages is simple: In Joseph’s lineage there was a levirate marriage (if a brother died the other brother would marry the widow but the offspring would be considered the offspring of his brother) SO this actually points to the difference. One lineage is a legal lineage and the other lineage is a biological lineage. Here is the truth that doesn’t change regardless of this difference: Both lineages teach us that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham and they both uphold the Davidic line of Jesus coming through the many people in the OT.
Here is a famous contradiction from the OT
#1 Does God Change?
No– Malachi 3:6 (NASB) “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”
Yes – Exodus 32:14 (NASB95) So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.
One must ask “What did Malachi mean by “change”.
-God’s good character is unchanging so He is reliable
-God does respond to our repentance (thankfully) In Ex. 32:14 God is responding and reacting to repentance.
This doesn’t show us that God is always changing in His characteristics and who He is–God is reacting to His people, He is in a relationship with His people. God’s changing of mind here doesn’t change His sovereignty, His perfect nature, His holiness etc. God hasn’t changed His characteristics here–He is rather reacting.
One Last Contradiction:
Saved By Our Faith in Christ: Ephesians 2:4 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead [f]in our transgressions, made us alive together [g]with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Saved by Our Works in Christ: James 2: 14-17 & 24
4 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [n]that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [p]dead, being by itself…You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
So which one is it? Is James refuting Paul outright here thus creating a major contradiction based around Salvation in God’s Holy Word?
No. James is merely correcting a poor teaching and reception of Paul’s theology of both Salvation and of how the church is supposed to worship and live as saved people.
Let’s read Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
James is actually reiterating what Paul’s basis of salvation theology truly is: We are saved by our Faith in Christ alone. But James is questioning his audience by saying “Are you saved? Because you are not acting through love, you are not obeying Christ (IN James 1 He talks about words and being slow to anger) James is trying to teach his audience that if we are saved by our Faith in Jesus Christ it will produce works in our lives in line with both Jesus (Love God, Love Your Neighbour heart, soul, mind, and strength). And what Paul is saying is “But faith working through love”.
I have been in two Atheists forums and have watched 15-20 Contradiction videos by atheists or skeptics and they merely just present the “contradictions” they rarely (if ever) explain what they mean. They say “look! These two verses explain the same idea in different ways or that may look different therefore the Bible is made up, false, not inspired by God and a lie.” It is a lazy argument rather than studying, compiling data (that is sourced through journals and scholarly sources) and looking into these “contradictions.” Other theologians also apply poor theology when saying that the bible has errors.
Video: “How did we get the bible?” Southern Seminary, Dr. Robert Plummer.
Video: “Are there contradictions and errors in the Bible?” Southern Seminary, Dr. Robert Plummer
Journal + Video: “Biggest Bible Contradictions: Evidence for the Bible” Pastor Mike Winger.
Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability and Meaning, Wayne Grudem, John C. Collins, Thomas R. Schriener
Brendan Olenick's Presentation
The question concerning how it was decided which books would become part of the Bible is the question of canonicity. A discerning person would want to know why some books were included in the canon while others were excluded.
The basic factor for recognizing a book’s canonicity for the New Testament was divine inspiration, and the chief test for this was apostolicity. The church was built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, whom Christ had promised to guide into ‘all the truth’ by the Holy Spirit. The church at Jerusalem was said to have continued in the apostles’ teaching. The term apostolic as used for the test of canonicity does not necessarily mean ‘apostolic authorship’ or that which was prepared under the direction of the apostles. but that it is apostolic authority, or apostolic approval, that was the primary test for canonicity, and not merely apostolic authorship.
Note that the apostolic authority "which speaks forth in the New Testament is never detached from the authority of the Lord. In the Epistles there is consistent recognition that in the church there is only one absolute authority, the authority of the Lord himself. Wherever the apostles speak with authority, they do so as exercising the Lord's authority. Thus, for example, where Paul defends his authority as an apostle, he bases his claim solely and directly upon his commission by the Lord.
The New Testament Canonical Books
Reasons For Their Collection