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God's Word - Who Decides What Parts of the Bible are Really God's Word?

Written By Wade Mobley on 01/17/2014 | Posted in Christian HistoryDaily Christian Thinking

Three Possibilities about the Bible as God's Word

I mentioned Sunday that there are three possibilities about the Bible as God's Word:

  • 1) All of it is God's Word- the view of the apostles, their disciples, their disciples, their disciples... and the leaders of the Protestant Reformation
  • 2) None of it is God's Word- the view of atheists (and most deists- God exists, but impersonally)
  • 3) Some of it is God's Word- the most common view in the American church, if not by creed, at least by implication

The problem with #3, of course, is deciding what is and what is not the Word of God. Regardless of one's methodology, such considerations place man as judge over Scripture - a most awkward position. After all, God intended for us to be convicted and consoled through His Word, not for us to convict and console Him by our evaluation of it.

"Reasons" to Be Skeptical?

What is more troubling is that those who adopt #2 ("none of it") or #3 ("some of it"), above, start off by doubting the integrity of the Scripture writers. Yesterday I attributed this unbelief to bigotry, that is, skepticism without a reason to be skeptical. I'll stand by that one, but take the prickly edge off of it a bit: Such skeptics have reasons to be skeptical, but they are PRESUPPOSITIONAL reasons for skepticism, not EVIDENTIAL reasons.

By "presuppositional" I mean that there is something in the way such a soul views the world that prohibits him from trusting the accounts at face value. For instance, if, in someone's way of viewing the world, God does not exist (or at least He is not interested in communicating with lowly mankind) then it will be impossible for such a soul to accept any evidence for God's existence or communication with mankind. The Bible becomes merely a human book, because the unbelieving observer has concluded that a Divine book has a make believe author- a make believe author who wouldn't communicate with mankind even if He actually existed.

By my experience there are two common categories of "reasons" to reject some portions of Scripture as God's Word: the presence of content we find offensive and the presence of supernatural material.

"I Don't Like It"

First, I hope that "I don't like it" isn't sufficient reason for you to dismiss something in Scripture as God's Word, but that is exactly what critics have been doing in the past several decades. They go through Scripture to see "what sounds like Jesus," or what doesn't sound exclusive, judgmental, homophobic or misogynistic. What's left is like Swiss cheese with more holes than cheese - a "Scripture" built on and bent by the sensibilities of the reader instead of the authority of the Author.

I'll give you a bit of a caution here: If someone quotes Scripture as authoritative only to demonstrate the excellence of something patently abhorrent, you don't have to listen to them. The example that comes to mind is an advertisement some years ago by "pastors for moral choices," a clergy group operating in opposition to a specific limitation on abortion in my home state. They listed a number of Bible verses that "affirmed" abortion (under the guise of compassion toward the mother). But I noticed that every single signator ministered in bodies that denied the authority of the Bible as God's Word to mankind. A good question to ask is, "What if I could show you a passage in Scripture that demonstrates you are wrong in your point of view?" The answer, of course, is that it wouldn't matter - the Bible isn't their authority. Thus, it is disingenuous to trot out a verse here or there to make their point sound more authoritative.

Rejecting the a Price

Second, rejecting anything supernatural comes at a far higher price than you may realize. For instance, many dismiss Jonah and the Great Fish as a tall tale told to make a point. Not only would this incur the wrath of my son, but it also makes a tall-tale-teller out of Jesus, who quoted Jonah as apparent fact. Further, there is no indication of tall-tale in the passage, except for the fact that men don't get swallowed by great fish and live to tell about it.

Those who affirm the authority of the Bible rally to its defense, digging up (questionable) historical accounts of whalers who fell overboard only to be "rescued" by whales with poor digestion. Unwittingly, they thus contribute to the problem by proposing natural explanations for what God attributes to His miraculous work. People do this with the Exodus (a wind over the Sea of Reeds, a small finger of the Red Sea), the burning bush (natural gas from the ground), and even the resurrection of Christ (He swooned, came back to consciousness, threw off the grave clothes, rolled away the stone, dodged the Roman guard and presented Himself ready for action when the women stopped by for a visit).

If you think I am joking on that last one, be assured, this is what some people say about Jesus. It has nothing to do with the text and everything to do with their presupposition that "supernatural" things either don't or can't happen. If you judge Scripture with this as a foundation it is not just various miracles that will perish on your cutting room floor. The essence of Christianity is God becoming man, living a perfect life, dying and rising again. These things don't happen in the natural world. They are supernatural interventions by the Creator God into His creation. Isaiah 7:14 as fulfilled in Matthew 1:18 doesn't fare well, either,, as virgins tend not to be pregnant.

Walking on Thin Ice

We are walking on thin ice: If we will not bow the knee to the God who has spoken, all that remains is to place God in "the dock" with ourselves in the seat of judgment and start picking apart Scripture according to our own desires in the name of "we just don't have any evidence for these things." But we DO have such evidence in the object of well-written, preserved and attested manuscripts from which we have our Bibles today. This causes us to examine transmission, canonicity and translation, which we shall explore next time.

Pastor Wade

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Thankful to the Living God for life, redemption and His many blessings. Doing my best to reflect His character in all I do.

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