My recent post on gender identity has elicited a good bit of reaction from readers, especially on facebook. It has been shared hundreds of times. Most have commended the post, but not everyone. One reader expressed her disagreement this way.
“To keep trying to reason this out with ancient language from a religious text that NOT everyone follows is hurtful, damaging, a complete waste of time, pointless, and mean.”
Another reader mocked by saying, “‘People have strayed away from God’ s wonderful explanation for pretty much anything you don’t understand, isn’t it? As long as you can live in your little ‘I’m right’-bubble and ideally denounce others different from you in the process, it’s all fine and dandy, right?”
And still another reader was more to the point by questioning the reliability, veracity, and preservation of the ancient Biblical texts.
In a longer than usual post, we ask, “Is the Bible outdated? Unreliable? Old-fashioned? And out of touch with today’s modern culture?”
The Claim of Scripture
The Scripture claims to originate from God. Paul affirmed, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17) The word “inspired” means “God breathed.” It denotes divine activity.
Peter penned that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:20-21). And John claimed that his Revelation came from God through the messenger of an angel (Rev. 1:1-3).
Over 4,000 times the Old Testament writers affirm that their message was from Jehovah God. Over 800 times the Pentateuch uses such expressions as “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The prophet Jeremiah confirms over 100 times that his prophesy was “the word of the Lord.” And 25 times in the little book of Malachi the prophet says his writing originated from “the Lord of hosts.”
Indeed as Batsell Barrett Baxter states, “There is ‘an air of infallibility’ about the writings that make up the Bible.”
Although there are no original autographs of Scripture, the amount of manuscript evidence is overwhelming as to the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible. If we must reject the Bible because there are no original manuscripts, then we must also reject the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Homer.
We have 7 copies of Plato’s writings, 49 of Aristotle’s and 643 of Homer’s Illiad. But compare this with the manuscripts of Bible books. We currently have unearthed 5,668 Greek manuscripts. In addition there more than 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages of Scripture. The supporting manuscript evidence for Scripture exceeds 24,000 documents!
The extent of these manuscripts allow for comparison of accuracy.
Nelson Glueck, a renowned archaeologist and late President of Hebrew College in Cincinnati said, “It is worth emphasizing that in all this work no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single properly understood Biblical statement.”
One of the most famous was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy who was searching for a lost goat. His “accidental” discovery has blessed the world.
One of the scrolls was a complete manuscript of Isaiah which was confirmed to be 1,000 years more recent than any other manuscript of that book. The importance of this discovery was the exactness upon comparing the two manuscripts. There was essentially no change in 1,000 years of copying and recopying the manuscript as it was handed down from generation to generation.
Indeed, God has kept His Word free from error!
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away.” I believe the all-powerful God who created the cosmos, has the power to providentially preserve his Word.
My faith in the accuracy of the Bible is undeterred by the attacks of critics, doubts of unbelievers and the assaults of infidels. Indeed, “..we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place…” (2 Pet 1:19).
Is the Bible Relevant Today?
But can God’s Word guide us in everyday life? Are the Scriptures relevant in the public forum? In our relationships? In our culture?
Paul’s affirmation in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 claims the Scripture was able to meet the needs of humankind then and by application it can do so today. We learn four important points that serve us well and show us the value of God’s inspired Word in our lives.
- Scripture is useful for teaching. From scripture we learn about God. Creation. Our origin. Our purpose. Our destiny. We learn about Jesus. His redemptive work. His plan for our salvation. We learn how to live. How to treat others. How to experience joy, peace and contentment in life. And we learn about God’s eternal arrangement of the home.
- Scripture is necessary for rebuke. Sometimes we get off the path. Away from the Word. Astray from what is right. The word reprimands us when we are wrong. We’re living in a culture where nothing is to be judged wrong. No matter how bizarre! But God clearly says some things are wrong.
- Scripture is essential for correction. The Word doesn’t just tell us we’re wrong. It corrects us. Direct us. Guides us. Gets us back on the right path. Through repentance and confession, we can correct our course and get back to walking God’s way.
- Scripture is imperative for training in righteousness. Once we return to God, He doesn’t just leave us there wondering, “What’s next?” “Where do I go?” “What do I do?” The Bible equips us for right living. Peter affirms that we’ve been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” In every area of life, we can be educated, prepared and disciplined to live life in all it’s fullness. Pleasing God. Serving others. And leaving this world a better place.
Times change. Cultures vary. Societies shift their values. But God’s Word is unchanging. Unalterable. Ever applicable to the challenges we face in the 21st century.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman