The Bible – ‘Word of God’ or words of man?
“Every word of God is flawless” Proverbs 30:5-6
“the words of the LORD are flawless” Psalms 12:6
“How do you know the Bible is the Word of God?”.
“Because God tells us so”.
“But how did He tell you?” I ask.
“In the Bible,”
“But how do you know what it says in the Bible is right?” I ask.
“Because it’s the Word of God.”
“But…um…how do you know that?” I ask again…
This is an endless and tiresome circular conversation I have had numerous times with family and friends. I wanted to know WHO in the Bible tells us that? WHO wrote those words? But at they didn’t know. In one instance during this conversation, and my motivations for asking these questions were attacked, as if I was doing the work of the devil. I ended up in tears in the middle of the restaurant. Later on I did receive an apology, I guess it hit home just how defensive they had become in response to an innocent, logical question. Although these Christians are intelligent, logically minded people, for some reason when it comes to their faith, logic is left behind. The problem starts in the early child Bible songs. “Jesus loves me yes I know, cause the Bible tells me so.” The Bible is treated as completely authoritative and anything it is supposed to be taken as literally true. That’s all any Christian needs to know. Now I have my doubts. Muslims also believe their holy book, the Qur’an, is inerrant. They believe it was dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel, the same angel that appeared to Mary. If every religion believes their Holy Book is the inerrant Word of God, can they all be true? According to Christian beliefs, no – their Bible is the only True Word of God, all of the others are lying. But is an internal claim for inerrancy enough? If each religion teaches different messages, then only one can be inerrant right?… Which one? Or are none? Time for more research…
Who in the Bible says it is the word of God? First, the writer of 2 Timothy. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16. This is the verse most often quoted and is the verse my step-mom was referring to. It states that all of the Scriptures are “theopneustos” in the original Greek, which means “breathed out by God.” Some conservative Christians believe 2 Timothy was written by Paul, around 64CE, from his chains in a cold dungeon but most theologians believe it was written around 100 to 150 CE by an unknown author.
Secondly, the writer of 2 Peter. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21. Conservative Christians believe 2 Peter was written by Peter around 67CE. Most liberal theologians attribute Peter to an unknown author around 125- 150 CE.
Both these verses were written centuries before the gospels had been written and long before the canon of the New Testament was actually selected! These verses were hence not referring to their own words, or to the gospels, of which over 40 were later written, they were referring to the Old Testament Scriptures. Some Christians argue they these words were pre-destining the God-inspired selection of New Testament books that would occur a hundred years into the future but no-where in the Bible does it say that. Justifications, or ‘harmonizations’, seem to me pretty far-out desperate attempts to defend something by any means possible.
Conflicts and contradictions
Harmonising the Bible
When it comes to the Christian response to challenging questions, I have noticed a pattern in the way my friends or family, and the way I used to, respond to any conflicting passage presented with. On the religious tolerance website, I discovered that there is actually a name for this response pattern – it’s called ‘harmonization.’ This seems to be major categories:
- a careful selection of symbolic/literal interpretation
- a different language translation of a particular word or sentence, from original Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic into English
- deciphering a teaching as for universal purposes or specific to a particular time
- saying that a partial description of an event, does not make it not a false description
- a far-fetched yet conceivable explanation
- attributing a conflict to being our human interpretation getting confused with God’s true meaning which He may not have chosen to share with us yet
- if all else fails – it all comes down to the f word – FAITH. Although we can’t explain the conflict now, God must have had a reason, we need to put our faith in Him
If a conflict can be harmonized by them, yet is not convincing enough to the person questioning, Christians they will say that the Bible can only be understood by those chosen by God – those that have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them to help them with comprehension. Paul writes, “14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
Are these methods of harmonising conflicts sufficient? How does it sit in your mind, a defensive justification of an absolute truth? Is this what God would want us to do? Or would He want us to question further and seek to get closer to Him through increasing our understanding of His creations?
Many different interpretations
Different interpretations on issues from creation to rituals, to moral issues like abortion, homosexuality, death penalty, the ten commandments, and spanking children, have led to most of the church splits. There are now more than 1500 different Christian faith groups, each believe they are the ‘true’ church, that they have the correct interpretation and that everyone else has it wrong.
Relative or absolute truth?
Was the Bible written as an absolute truth or a relative truth? Does it refer to all locations and all time, or specifically to the people it was written for at the time? In my experience, the church seems to pick some parts that they say are absolute truths, such as not having sex before you are married, yet they believe that the Sabbath was truth just for the people in the old days.
Does the Bible’s ambiguity make inerrancy a meaningless concept anyway?
Considering the diversity in beliefs among Christian faith groups today, it would appear that the Bible is ambiguous and that it is not possible to be certain of at least some of its key teachings. If it is not possible to be certain of the Bible’s meaning, then isn’t it meaningless to assert that the Bible in itself is free of error. Does it really matter if one interpretation is true if we can’t determine which one?
A summary of a fundamentalist perspective – the bible is inerrant, authoritative and literal
Fundamentalist Christians believe the Bible is inerrant, that is, it contains no error. They believe this because the Bible says the scriptures are “God breathed” and since God is perfect He would not make mistakes. God would not breathe anything false, untrue or misleading. Also, Jesus is the Son of God, and at the same time He is God. Since Jesus is God, what He says must be true and so seeing as Jesus said the Scriptures are the Word of God, it must be so. Fundamentalists believe modern versions of the Bible are reliable translations and too can be considered the word of God. For this to happen without the translator’s biases in word selection, this process too must have been God-inspired. They believe that aside from the poetry, parables and figurative speaking, the rest of the Bible should be interpreted literally. For example, that earth was created in six 24 hour days; that a flood destroyed all humans and animals and left Noah and his family and the animals on the boat to repopulate the world. After the flood God created the rainbow as a symbol of his promise, (supposedly rainbows did not exist before this time). Jonah was really in the belly of a whale for three days. And so on. These Christians believe that in selecting the canon the leaders of the Church at the time must have been lead by God in their selection of the correct four gospels from the 40 in circulation, and which letters and other writings would be included, and the knowledge from God that the rest of the writings were heresy.
Fundamentalists believe the Bible is infallible, that the reader can trust it and won’t be deceived by it; authoritative, that it defines what we believe, how we should act and dictates our moral and ethical values; that it reflects the will of God for humanity; and that no conflict truly exists within the Bible, critics that say there are, are themselves committing errors in their analysis. The Bible is hence defended as accurate on all topics including history, theology, morality, creation and science. It is seen to be internally consistent since God doesn’t change, God’s message should be consistent, flowing over the many centuries the Bible was written – through from Genesis to Revelation; and also that the authors identities are correctly identified by the book name. That is, the ‘Pentateuch’ (the first five books from Genesis to Deuteronomy) were written by Moses, Isaiah was written by Isaiah, Matthew was written by Matthew, an apostle of Jesus; Mark was written by Mark, a disciple of Simon Peter, who was an apostle; Luke was written by Luke, who was a disciple of Paul; John was written by John, who was an apostle. But were they? If we have faith in the bible, what are we actually putting our faith in?
Let’s pause here and consider who exactly, as Christians believing the Bible is the “word of God”, must put our trust in. For starters, we must put some trust in Peter and Paul, or the other unknown authors, depending on the theologian/historian you believe, who stated the Bible was “God-breathed”. We must trust that those men, whoever they were, were inspired by God in their writing, and that they did not have any ulterior motives, like to justify their own words as being from God. We must trust that we have a correct understanding of these words – trusting the theologians who have extrapolated the interpretations our church has taught us.
More than meets the eye
Do you ever wonder whether the God of such an amazing universe, would be so exclusive, cutting himself off from most of humanity, choosing one group of people, and providing them the One Way to Salvation? Maybe there’s more to it then what they told us at Sunday school.
Non-Fundamentalist Bible as errant, historical & mythological
Non-Fundamentalist Christians see the Bible as a historical document, and accept that because humans wrote the Bible, and humans make mistakes, the Bible does contain error. The writers had limited historical knowledge about the past events they were writing about so the accuracy of their writing was dependent on the accuracy of the oral history they had been told, and the accuracy of any other resources that they based their writings on. There are errors in their reporting, some people in the Bible may have been more legends that may never have lived, some events may never have happened, some may have put words in the mouth of Jesus that he did not say.
The selecting of books for the New Testament Canon occurred in the 4th century from over 40 gospels, hundreds of epistles (letters), many infancy stories and many books of revelation. They were chosen on basis of their conformity with orthodox Christian beliefs of that time, and on the closeness to their association with an Apostle. Church leaders who selected the books were often mistaken in their understanding of who had written the books. Non-conforming books were suppressed and sometimes lost forever, yet they contained much valuable material about primitive Christian movement. Some of the books attributed to Paul were written by unknown authors many decades after Paul’s death. Some biblical passages are religious propaganda and forged passages have been added by unknown authors since the original texts were written.
Jesus spoke Aramaic, the New Testament was written in Greek and our translations are from Greek into English – leaving room for accidental and intentional errors in copying the Bible and in its translations between languages. They believe Bible passages have to be interpreted according to beliefs of the writers and times & the culture they lived in, which may or may not be valid today. Modern Bible versions are reasonably accurate translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek although they reflect belief systems of the translators and the sponsoring religious institution. Older translations like the KJV are less reliable because their translators had a lesser understanding of Hebrew and access to fewer manuscripts. Studying the books of the Bible in chronological order of their writers, allow us to see how particular beliefs such as the virgin birth, developed over time. This order can be found in Appendix 1.
In this view, the Bible is not seen as directly inspired by God. It is seen as having been influenced by other ancient religions including Canaanite, Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and other Pagan religions. The laws of the books in the Pentateuch were laws representing beliefs of the writer, not of God, and hence have been influenced by the writer’s own personal spiritual beliefs about God’s nature, His expectations, location, attributes, purpose of humanity etc. as well as their life experiences and understanding.
These Christians believe we should base our values on reason, observation and experience. These Christians admit some of the passages violate the will of God including the restricting roles of women, murder of religious and sexual minorities, and they do not protest against scientific findings of the physical, social and medical sciences that show that parts of the Bible are not accurate e.g. creation, mental illness caused by demons, structure of the universe, creation of rainbows, origin of languages etc.
The Bible evaluated to be internally inconsistent as from Genesis to Revelations, we can observe the evolution of religious beliefs over changing times. It recognises that most of the books are by unknown authors, the first five books attributed to Moses (1450 BCE) are believed to have been written by four anonymous authors referred to as J,E,P and D. (see p _ for more details) They accept that Isaiah is was written by more than one writer; Daniel was written four centuries after his death but another unknown author. Some believe Daniel was a mythical character. The Gospel of Mark, ends abruptly at Mark 16:8 and has had endings added, some Bibles include both endings. Are these later editions also inerrant? or have they been manipulations by believers to make the message more consistent or to fit their belief systems? Some entire books of the Bible were written many decades or even centuries after the apparent author died. e.g. Epistles (letters) such as 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, 2 Thessalonians and Titus, are said toe be written by Paul although they were composed 35-85 years after Paul’s death.
Another view is of ‘limited inerrancy’, the perspective that the Bible is free from error on moral, spiritual and religious truths such as the deity of Christ and an individual’s route to salvation, but historical, geographical and scientific topics like origins, cosmos, the Earth, place names, some events etc, are of little consequence and are not necessary free of error.
Conflicting opinions on ways to interpret the Bible has caused the evolution of over 1000 different denominations of Christianity that exist today. Some Christians believe that the Old Testament is no longer relevant, and that the New Testament, Jesus’ teachings, replace the rules of the Old Testament. These discrepancies continue to generate divisions and conflicts within denominations over church policies regarding homosexuals, the way to salvation, women being ordained as clergy etc.
The Christians I know base their life on their English translations, taking every word as God’s word, and quoting Paul’s statement saying it is ‘God breathed’. They say to me, “Don’t you think that the powerful creator of our universe would be able to inspire the Bible writers, and then monitor each of the people involved in the publication process from 30CE till now – to ensure that the Bible we have in our hands today, is still his word?” Unfortunately human nature is to change things to make them fit our personal beliefs, and with this many people involved in the process over the last 2000 years, can we trust anything we read in the Bible?
Probably out of all my realisations, the discovery of errors in my God-breathed Bible, one was the most difficult to deal with. Eventually I realised this did not demolish the entire point; sure it changed the meaning, and also meant I had to do more thinking for myself than my previous blissful acceptance of everything that came out of it; yet the messages were now real – and give me a tough reality over a blissful ignorance any day.
Is biblical literalism a form of idolatry?
“Biblical literalism is idolatry. If you accept that the Bible is literally the word of God, and every word is exactly the word that God has spoken, then you have turned the Bible into an idol. Yet Christian leaders such as Peter Jensen of Sydney Anglicans state many times that the only way to meet with the Holy Spirit, is to meet with the Bible. The Holy Spirit has been made captive to the act of reading. Apparently the spirit is not active in life, and is not able to work in people’s lives in different ways. By turning the Bible into an idol, when the Bible speaks to the reader, the reader has assumed the position of speaking and thinking for god. So an interpretation of the Bible as God’s authoritative and incontestable word for me is an abomination. The Bible is a rich source of human experience and people’s attempt to understand their life, and God, in their context. The stories have been enriched by oral tradition over centuries, and embellished to enhance their understanding to different peoples in different places at different times. The final version recorded is but one of many variations of the story. And is the edited version of the writer at the time. They contained human wisdom, experience, moral lessons, mistakes – all which must be considered when we read them today.”
Reading the bible in context
The Bible is seen by majority of biblical scholars as: historical – written for the people at the time of the writing; metaphorical – “more-than-literal” – can gain more by looking for meaning rather than dwelling on whether or not it happened and sacramental – a vehicle for god’s spirit to communicate with you. Christian life is seen as: relational – why would God only make himself known to one civilization at one point in history? And transformational – not about meeting requirements to get into heaven, but about a relationship with God that transforms the life you live now.(Borg, 2003)
As Christians, we are told that God is all-powerful, and thus he has created the Bible in order to give us this particular message. He wants us to understand Him, and His purpose for our lives on earth, and for the relationship with him that we will have after our life on this earth ends. As this is His desire, we can be sure that He has given us this manual, that he has ensured that the writers, editors, canon designers, copiers, publishers and distributors, were all lead by Him, so that you may have His word in your hands. In believing this, are we not claiming to know the mind of God? To KNOW that this is his will, for us to have this book, is a pretty huge assumption to make, and based on what? What are we basing this assumption on? On a feeling? On that deep down knowing that this is God’s true will? We know that God did this, because God wanted to.
Humanity has undergone a dramatic transformation this last two thousand years. Consider the worldview of people living in Jesus’ time: a time where the nature of our world as flat or round was probably not even a thought they pondered. Knowledge of what lay beyond the horizon came from the few travelers and traders that connected lands and people with unknown borders. All people knew was the culture, language and the lifestyle they had been born into. Majority of people lived in poverty-stricken conditions under rule of a powerful king or emperor. Slavery was acceptable and women suppressed. The seemingly super-natural movements of the weather and occurrences of disease were attributed to a supernatural power, personified as ‘God.’ Out of these times came the writings and teachings we read in the Bible.
Over the following 1500 years, people remained a consequence of their times and ruler. The church gained an increasing role in conjunction with the emperor, and people were forced to believe their teachings, with the alternative persecution, excommunication and possible death. Most of the population was illiterate, and the Bible lay in the hands of the Church, who prescribed their own interpretations for the people. The Bible accepted as the authoritative inerrant Word of God, and the world was accepted as having come into being on _ in 4004 BC, as calculated by Bishop Ussher following the Bible’s numbers and genealogies. This was the Dark Ages, the time where the Crusades and Inquisition took place.
In the last five hundred years, explorers like Columbus sailed across the seas and proved the world to be round not flat and subsequently Kepler and Galileo destroyed ideas of angels carrying stars and the sun across a sky held up by mountains separating the heavens and earth. The church found themselves confronted by a myriad of new questions: why was the Bible wrong about earth’s cosmology? Who were these strange people, and what did it mean that they had their religious connections with God?
Knowledge transferred generation to generation compounds exponentially, with one discovery leading to another and to another. Scientists discovered the earth’s geological processes, like the creation and erosion of mountains, were extremely slow, and hence concluded the earth must be much older than 6000 years. Dynamics behind volcanoes, lightning and other natural phenomenon were understood, and it was no longer necessary to see these as supernatural actions of God or the Devil.
Yet the church was still source of wealth and control, and as empires sought gold and power, the facade of ‘saving souls’ was used to seize land from native peoples, and the adoption of Christianity was forced upon many people throughout our world. Still as scientific discovery continued, the challenge for the church to answer questions became more and more difficult. In the nineteenth century the Bible’s condoning of slavery was rejected and humanity rose to higher levels of morality. People questioned how the Bible could uncriticisingly condone such unethical behaviour. A mistrust in the Bible and its relevance for the day, spread throughout society.
Midrash and premodern minds
“Midrash is the Jewish way of saying that everything to be venerated in the present must somehow be connected with a sacred moment in the past…It is the means whereby the experience of the present can be affirmed and asserted as true inside the symbols of yesterday.” Bishop Sprong gives an example of Midrash way parting of waters in a sea or river, reoccurs throughout the Bible: Firstly in Exodus when the Hebrews cross the Red or Reed sea to escape the Egyptian army, secondly in Joshua when they carry the ark across the Jordan River, and third in 1 Kings when Elijah and Elisha cross the Jordan River just before and just after Elijah was taken in a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses up to heaven. According to a Midrash interpretation, the purpose of the parting of the Red/Reed Sea was to show the Israelites that God was on their side and that Moses could call on him for protection. The purpose of the second, third and fourth stories was to show that God continued to work through his chosen prophets in later times. They also show that the history of Israel is continuous, containing repetitive themes that link back to earlier events. Some other examples are the guiding stars involved in the births of Abraham, Isaac, Moses and Jesus; the local rulers ordering that Jewish babies be killed, placing both Moses and Jesus at risk; the feeding of 100 men by Elisha and Jesus’ feeding of 5000 men plus women and children; both Elijah and Jesus bringing dead people back to life and the ascension of both Elijah and Jesus towards heaven. Since all but one of the New Testament authors were of Jewish background, I guess is is reasonable to assume that midrash would be involved in their writing styles.
Near the end of the first century CE, conflict between early Christians and mainline Judaism started to build up, as Paul and his followers were evangelizing the Gentiles (non-Jews), thus what was originally a sect within the Jewish tradition, became more and more non-Jewish and eventually anti- Jewish. Gentile Christians would have been unaware of the Midrash tradition, and with their antagonistic attitude toward Jews, it makes sense that they began to interpret the Christian Scriptures literally.
People who believe the same think about their religion and holy books, we judge to be wrong, and us right. Our God is right, theirs is fake, and we feel we are right to assume our Bible is the one that God had his hand on, from the first letter that was written, right up until the point where your eyes read it. But you know what happens when we assume? We make an ass out of u and me. I’m starting to think that this is a bit much to ask and that maybe we can’t make such a grand assumption. Maybe God has ways we can’t understand. Maybe He wanted us to use our minds to analyse all the words He inspired, all around the world. Maybe He wants us to search for Him, not expect His mind on a platter.
It was interesting to me to learn that the idea of Bible infallibility only appeared in the 1600s. (Borg, 2003) A literal interpretation, that is, the belief that everything in the Bible actually happened, seems to me in hindsight to take away from the messages Christianity has to offer. This method it misses the true meaning writers intended, misinterpreting words by taking them out of the language, historical context and writing techniques that were used. That’s not to say that the holy spirit couldn’t still have worked through the Bible in this way, but now that resources for correct interpretations are available, we have the opportunity to get-to-know God on deeper levels, and increase our understanding of Him, and our understanding of the relationship our ancestors had with Him.
Christianity, Islam and Judaism – share father Abraham
I was initially quite surprised to learn of the connection between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. All three religions are classified as Abrahamic – as they all share Abraham as a common ancestor. They all place value on the Old Testament, with a few other books and various interpretations of key factors since then.
Jesus was a Jew so I guess when you think about it, Jews are actually closer decedents to Jesus than I as a gentile will ever be. Jews were also the ‘chosen people’ of the more than half the books in our Bible, so it’s interesting to wonder why Jews do not believe in Jesus. John?
Islam is an offshoot of Christianity not so dissimilar to the way Protestantism was an offshoot from Catholicism. Both Muslims and Protestants began as a rejection of the mainstream teachings of the day, (Islam some 1500 years ago, and Protestantism some 500 years ago) and both interpret the Old Testament alongside a series of new books, with a committed claim in their books and interpretation, being the only and absolute true. The main difference other than time, between Islam and Protestantism, is the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus: that Jesus was the God of the heavens incarnated as a human, born by a virgin who died and lay dead for three days before rising back to life. These crucial differences are elements we shall explore in detail shortly.
Many atrocities have been committed in God’s name
The First Crusade was in 1095 Pope Urban II asked all Christians to join a war against the Turks, telling them that fighting the war would repay God for their sins. The armies marched to Jerusalem, attacking several cities on their way. They killed many people and in 1099 they won the battle for Jerusalem. A main cause of the crusade was the desperate need for land and retaking Jerusalem gave them both their Holy Land and land to live on. Not only the crusades, but maybe even worse was the 30 years war in Europe between Catholics and Protestants, the church supporting the Nazi regime, apartheid in South Africa, the genocide in Rwanda, the genocide in Bosnia, the war in Iraq. It just goes on and on. The Principal of a theologian college told the students that all Christians needed to come to terms with the evil done by the church throughout its history, and still being done today. Most Christians do not want to hear this truth, but as he explained, the church is a human institution and shows all the weakness of being human, even worse because the church thinks it has God’s authority, and repeatedly abuses this claimed authority.
Politics, power and the spread of Christianity
312AD Emperor Constantine – The birth of the Christian Empire. A major turning point in Christian history came in the early 4th century AD, when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. It was in October 312AD that Constantine, the son of Constantius, made a mysterious decision for men to wear a Christian symbol ‘Chi- Ro’ on their shields (a symbol made from the first two Greek letters of the word Christ). Constantine won the battle and attributes this success to the Christian god. He hoped Christianity would be the uniting force of his empire and declares Christianity a legal religion, favours the Christians- providing funds to churches and restoring their confiscated property. Christianity becomes a faith for the masses; and the start of Monasticism.
Historical vs literal / autocratic interpretations
Why are we as Christians brought up to interpret the Bible as literal? I attribute this to the fact that the Reformation occurred simultaneous to the invention of the printing press, landing the Bible in the hands of uneducated non-Jews. The early Protestants would have been unfamiliar with Jewish traditions such as ‘midrash’ and symbolism that the writers of the Bible wrote in. Not to mention the fact that the Bible had passed through 1500 years of translations, manipulations and theological interpretations for various political purposes. In claiming back individual agency from the Catholic hierarchy, the solution to pursue the Bible’s fundamentals, the inerrant word of God, a simple and strong platform for the individual to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. Now, 500 years later, despite the accessibility of education and opportunity for Protestants now to read and interpret the Bible in light of each author’s time, their writing style and intended meaning, I wonder why we still continue to read it as if we are uneducated masses?
Faith without certainty
The biggest point for Christianity is that it is here. It survived the last 2000 years, and now has spread so far as many as the stars. God told Abraham he would have descendants as numerous as the stars. Now look at the population of our world, and the number that believe Abraham is their father.
Every religion requires a leap of faith. This is a list of the faiths that every Christian must partake:
i. To accept that the Bible is the “word of God”:
The people who chose the books did not have their own motives. These are the same people who adopted pagan customs over the Jewish customs that Jesus observed. Can we really trust them?
The people who wrote the books did not have any ulterior motives. We don’t even know who wrote most of the books. Many books are written by numerous authors, edited by others, and translated through translated versions, into a book that today I find impossible to call ‘inerronous’. If it contains some error, then how do we know what is error and what is not?
ii. To accept that Jesus died and rose again
That the Roman soliders knew the difference between dead and unconscious or nearly dead, that they did check he was dead before taking him down
That no-one stole Jesus’ body
iii. To accept the teachings of the New Testament
a. Credibility of Jesus
Trusting that Jesus was telling the truth about himself, not deluded or deceived into thinking he was something he wasn’t. We must trust that Mary and Joseph didn’t bring him up to believe something that was false. That Mary didn’t make it all up in attempt to hide an affair, or make it all up in order to turn her son into the next ruler and saviour of the Jews.
b. Trust in Paul
We accept that Paul didn’t have his own agenda, grasping a chance for fame & social restructure. We have to accept that Paul’s vision of Jesus was real, and not a hallucination manifested as response to his own guilt and regret for harm he caused to many lives. We have to accept that God was leading this man from this point onwards, inspiring his words, even though he never claimed this to be. We have to accept that the changes Paul made to the beliefs, in order to make them acceptable to Gentiles, eg allowing them to eat pork and not be circumcised, were decisions inspired by God.
c. Trust in other disciples and early church leaders
We have to Peter and James were followers of Jesus for the right reasons, and
d. Marketers of the religion
e. Production of the Bible
To accept that what we have in our hands in English, is true to original teachings
f. Political/religious leaders in 200-500 AD
Constantine – stopped the persecution
Theodisis – made it the national religion
iv. Old testament
That Moses was not creating this religion as an explanation of the group’s origins as more of a story of inspiratio
That we have the correct interpretation of what the words in the Bible are meant to mean, and that we are taking out of them the purpose the writer, and God, wants us to take from them.
Chapter 2 – Is the Bible the “Word of God”? Click here
Chapter 3 – Is Jesus Christ the “Son of God?” Click here
Chapter 4 – Discussing the contradictions Click here
Chapter 5 – What does this mean for my life today? Click here
Chapter 6 – My conclusions Click here