Dear Woodview friends and family,
Recently, the online magazine, Relevant, contained an article on what it calls "4 little-known facts about the Bible" that they suggest makes the Bible trust-worthy.
Why I like articles like this is because I think believers need to have substance behind their beliefs. I would say that every true believer trusts the Bible as God's Word and depends on it for the message of salvation and wisdom for living. So articles that share reasons why we can be certain the Bible is trustworthy are helpful.
They can also help us be prepared to defend our beliefs with those who don't yet share those same beliefs. In the article, the author plays devil's advocate by posing the question: "When it comes to documents that make up the Bible, we do not have the original manuscripts. Plus, there are variants in the copies that survived. Most are minor, but there you have it. We're faced with the question: Without originals, can we still trust the Bible?"
So here are the "4 little-known fact about the Bible" they point to as support for the Bible's trustworthiness:
1. We have over 10,000 fragments of Bible documents from which we compile and verify the accuracy of the Bible--which is thousands more than Homer or Aristotle's works. All of these manuscripts, fragments, scrolls, and parchments have been checked and double-checked for mismatches (known as variants) and most are a letter turned around or minor things that do not change the meaning of the story at all.
2. Every known variant has been cataloged and is available to public scrutiny. Nothing is hidden or secret.
3. Historians support parts of the Bible--like, really big parts! UNC Professor of Religious Studies, Bart Ehrman, an historian, scholar, and agnostic has said: "We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from Jesus' time period." That would mean that there is more proof for Jesus than there is Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, or Cleopatra.
4. The folks who copied and re-copied these documents were so incredibly careful that there is only about a 10 percent difference from the bits we have from 800 BC compared to the copies we have from 1500 AD. It is almost impossible to imagine how they could have been so precise.
Let me share with you the last few paragraphs of the article: "These are good points for Christians to know. However, God tells us His Word is a light unto our path (Ps. 119:105), which begs the question: How does a God ask for utter devotion to a written word then fail to deliver that word in original form?
The answer? He doesn't.
God doesn't ask for utter devotion to a written word. He asks for utter devotion to the God of that written word. He walks through that idea in stories, where a spiritual God acted in physical circumstances among real people. Some of those details get lost in translation or preservation, which God could have avoided had He chose to do so. But He didn't.
What are the resulting implications?
For one thing, it forces us to read the whole Bible, not settle on snippets or proof texts to summarize the Bible's doctrines. It forces us to consider consistencies between the God represented on that page over there with the God represented on that page over here. It also forces us to study consistencies between the characters from page to page, and also between the characters' walks with God and our walks with God today.
It forces us to acknowledge that the God of the Bible wants a relationship, not a religion.
So, even without the originals, is the Bible reliable? Specifically, can its God reliably illumine Himself through the Word as it is? To answer that, we have to try it and find out.
That makes us all vulnerable, even God, who positions Himself to be accepted or rejected by the very people He created, died for and for whom He wrote His Word.
Admittedly, that does not sound like the easiest way to go. It sounds like a process that takes stumbling around and surrendering. It sounds messy. Of course, understanding truth often is."
I'm very thankful for Janelle Alberts and her thoughts and insights in this article. I hope you enjoyed it, will think about it, and grow from it!
I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
Jon B. Stradtner