In very many ways the most basic questions of all about the Christian faith are questions about the Bible. For if the Bible really is an accurate and reliable revelation from our Divine Creator, then almost every other important question about life and truth (Is there a God? Who am I? How did I get here? What comes after this life?) is automatically answered. For this reason we have dedicated the first three issues of the Proclamation in 1997 to answering twenty-one leading questions about the Bible. Due to space limitations, our answers here are obviously not as thorough as they otherwise might be, but we believe that they are accurate, and we offer them with the convict-ion that even just a ‘starter response’ (so long as it is accurate) is usually preferable to no response at all.
8 If men wrote the Bible, who’s to say that it’s anything more than just the writings of men?
Well for starters, how about the writers themselves? They repeatedly attributed their words to Divine inspiration. David (II Samuel 23:2), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:9), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:3), and the Apostle Paul (I Thessalonians 2:13) will serve as examples. The Old Testament alone registers 2600 claims of inspiration. Then, also, Jesus recognized the Scripture as God’s Word in places like John 10:35 and Luke 24:24-27. Actually, anyone objectively examining the Bible’s record of fulfilled prophecy may soon begin to discern that it is more than the work of mere men.
9 How do we know that the method by which the Bible was transmitted to us was reliable?
By the exceptionally high rate of manuscript corroboration. Authorities agree, for instance, that in the New Testament less than one word per thousand is in any doubt whatsoever. We can therefore conclude that, although the transmission process was not altogether without error, the same God who inspired the original writers to perfectly record His Word, guided and guarded the transmission of that Word. In Matt-hew 24:35 Jesus said, “My words shall not pass away.”
10 How do we know that the originals themselves were reliable?
The claims of God Himself through the Bible writers (Isaiah 46:9-10: “I am God…declaring the end from the beginning…”), of the writers themselves (the Apostle Paul in II Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God…”), and of Jesus (John 17:17b)-have all been verified by science, archaeology, and subsequent real world events-comprising a solid basis for our faith in the fact that the original autographs were recorded without error, just as conferred to the writers by God.
11 Why is the Apocrypha in some Bibles and not in others?
Any publisher can include it in any Bible, but no one ever accepted the Apocryphal books as inspired, or part of the canon, until the Roman Catholic Church declared them such in 1545-1563-a purely arbitrary decision, and one that falls apart upon examination.
12 There are so many different interpretations of the Bible-who is to say which is right?
The differences in Bible interpretation among Christians almost always pertain to relatively minor doctrines. Even those who reject the Bible, but who are willing to approach it without prejudice or preconception, have little argument regarding its main message.
13 What about all the contradictions in the Bible?
Every so-called Bible contradiction has been resolved. Many never amounted to anything more than varied perspectives. And reputable Bible scholars have long since supplied fully credible answers for every alleged contradiction. The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, ©1982 Zondervan, is a good example. Psalm 19:7 says: “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul…” In John 17:17 Jesus said, “Thy Word is truth.”
14 Don’t the Old and New Testaments provide us with two different images of God: wrathful vs. loving?
No – not two different images of God, but rather two distinct records of how God has approached mankind. In Malachi 3:6 God says: ‘For I, the Lord, do not change.’ God’s nature is immutable. But under the old coven-ant He approached man with the Law. In this New Testament age, He comes through Jesus Christ with an offer of mercy, forgiveness, and amazing grace.