Recap of arguments of authority of the Bible

To recap the arguments presented so far…

I first addressed some misconceptions of the Bible:

The Bible does not need to be “perfect”. Just like witnesses in a case are not all thrown out because they have conflicting details, we should likewise view the authors of the Bible as a set of witnesses in a court case. We need to discern the truth based on what they wrote.

otseng wrote: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:34 am The way I believe the Bible should be approached is like listening to witnesses in a courtroom. Each witness has their own perspective, style, personality, etc. When they give their account of an event, it is entirely possible it will contradict another testimony. It is up to the jury to piece together what is the truth. Just because there are discrepancies between the witnesses doesn’t mean everything is false.

The Bible was not written to be an encyclopedia of factual information that is authoritative on facts, dates, measurements, genealogies, etc. It is the underlying message under these facts that the author is trying to convey. I’m not saying facts presented are all false, but contradictions can occur, just like they can occur in a courtroom.

Even though I believe conflicts can exist, I still believe in a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.

otseng wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 6:13 am God is still on the throne and worthy of our trust and allegiance. Jesus is still Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit still lives in us. The Bible is still authoritative and our rule in faith and practice. We should still keep the law. We should study the scriptures. Jesus rose from the dead. God created the cosmos. The flood was still a literal worldwide flood. Adam and Eve were real people. God’s kingdom will be established. Jesus will judge all the nations.

Attacks on the Bible based on the assumption that God is “omnipotent” would not be valid since the Bible does not support the belief that God is “omnipotent”. What most people mean by “omnipotent” is a God that can do anything. But, it is clear in the Bible that God cannot do anything.

otseng wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:14 am Really, my main justification for God not being omnipotent is the Bible. Suppose we define omnipotent as “being able to do anything”. Heb 6:18 says God is not able to lie, “in which it was impossible for God to lie”. Therefore God is not omnipotent since He cannot lie. This is just one example of things God cannot do according to the Bible. If someone wants to believe God is omnipotent, it is not because it is based on the Bible, but on their own philosophical view of how God should be.

So, making up hypothetical arguments about the Bible based on God being omnipotent do not show in any way the Bible is not authoritative.

The Bible was not written by an omnipotent God, rather the Bible is a book written by humans, with all their limitations. It did not fall out of the sky and authors were not in a trance and dictated what they heard from heaven when they wrote.

otseng wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 12:56 pmGod used fallible people with their skills, intellect, personalities, weaknesses, limited memory to write down things. God did not create the Bible so that it’ll be defect free and everything to be factually correct.

otseng wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:02 am God was not directly involved in the creation of the Bible. God did not overrule anybody’s personality, memory, muscles, etc when the authors wrote. Authors still had to perform research to gather facts and did not just sit in a corner while God directly relayed facts into their head. From an outsider’s perspective, there appears to be no involvement from God whatsoever and everything appears to be normal like any other person who would write down something.

Since the Bible is a work of men, why then should it be expected to be perfect and without any contradictions?

otseng wrote: Wed Nov 03, 2021 8:26 am I came across an interesting video by Tim Mackie about the origin and authority of the Bible. As co-founder of The Bible Project, he has demonstrated more than a little knowledge of the Bible.

“The Bible is both a human book and a divine book. It’s a human book it that was written by people.”
“Somehow in our modern context that this has been framed as an either/or and I just think that’s totally unnecessary and it’s totally unhelpful and will lead you down dead ends.”

He does not explicitly state this, but what a human book means to me is it will be subject to errors, just like all other human books are subject to. Accounts can have inconsistencies, things can be exaggerated, memories can fail, authors can add artistic license material, etc. But, the important thing is the core message. Historical accuracy on the trivialities is not the point of the Bible. The person of Jesus, his message, his example, and his resurrection is the core.

Another factor at work is our view of the Bible can make the Bible look incorrect. Our modern perspective can make the Bible look skewed.

otseng wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:09 am

Mithrae wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:52 pm Once upon a time we had a Jewish member (cnorman perhaps) with a signature line saying something like “The Torah is the word of God… and some of it is even true!” In other words, it is errant but still the ‘word of God.’

Yes, my belief has been influenced by Jewish thinking. It was a 4 hour message from Ray Vander Laan, “The Bible from Jesus’ Culture Perspective 2000 Years Ago”, that really opened my eyes.

The Bible was written (primarily) by Jews and to those familiar with Judaism. We do not really understand their mindset and perspective. We approach the Bible from a western (Greek) mindset and with our modern assumptions. And when we try to approach the Bible from those glasses, things look skewed. So, fundamentally, the issue is not really the Bible, but our own paradigm that we approach in reading the Bible that makes it look “incorrect”.

We’ve discussed one assumption already – that the Bible needs to be perfect. It appears to me the majority of the attacks on the Bible is that it is not perfect. However, this assumption of perfection is from Greek philosophy, not Hebrew philosophy. This standard of perfection also did not exist in the minds of the writers or the recipients (most of them anyway). And the degree of precision that we expect today certainly did not exist during the time of the authors. Dictionaries didn’t exist, they didn’t have access to vast amounts of information at their fingertips, masses did not have college degrees, they did not take high school classes on how to cite sources correctly. I even doubt people had a ruler in their homes.

otseng wrote: Tue Oct 19, 2021 9:14 am As for the “errors”, there are several possibilities to account for this.

One reason is we have on the wrong glasses. We read it from a modern Greek perspective, not a Jewish perspective. It’s like you reading a Chinese book and saying it’s all wrong. You have to dig a little deeper to understand the culture, audience, and mentality of the Chinese and not judge based on western modern culture. Also, just because our glasses makes things look skewed doesn’t necessarily mean the Bible is skewed. Our modern assumptions of precision and accuracy did not exist in the minds of the authors. So, each account doesn’t need to match up in all the details. It is anachronistic to place on them a modern standard that they did not and could not have. Now, it’s entirely possible to read the Bible with our modern glasses on and to understand the core message. But to impose modern assumptions to demonstrate the Bible is wrong is anachronistic.

Another factor is our culture has a major impact in our interpretation of the Bible and makes things look skewed. An example of this is our modern debate on homosexuality. Actually, the Bible doesn’t say much about this. And Jesus didn’t say anything about it. Yet, given all the hoopla over it, you would think this is some major doctrine of the Bible. Another example is accepting Jesus as your savior by raising your hand, walking down the aisle, and accepting him in your heart. Who knows how many times this is done in the US each Sunday? Yet, this is not even in the Bible.

otseng wrote: Sun Oct 24, 2021 8:29 am The Bible is a complex book that cannot be simply viewed from a single perspective and then entirely judged by that perspective. It is a book utilizing many literary devices, several of which don’t even exist today. Just because one views it from one perspective and doesn’t understand it doesn’t mean the Bible itself is wrong. It’s like a reporter reading a poem and saying the poem is all wrong. It doesn’t contain any facts and is not clear on what it means. And the facts that it might contain are all wrong. The point of a poem is not to relay facts and news to a reader. If a poem is submitted as a news article, of course it will be rejected because that’s not the purpose of a poem.

As a book, the Bible is qualitatively different than any other book.

otseng wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 8:04 am

Difflugia wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:13 am I can’t, though, reconcile calling it the Word of God unless there is something qualitatively different about the Bible than any other human literature. If the Bible is presenting the fruits of human effort to understand God, how is that different than a devotional, even if it’s the best of the best?

It’s qualitatively different from any other book in human history in that:

These might not prove it’s the “word of God”, but undeniably the Bible is qualitatively different from any book in human history.

The Bible is also unique in its literary value and promotion of literacy.

otseng wrote: Sun Oct 24, 2021 8:29 am Just for the literary value of the Bible, I can’t think of any other single volume book that has so much variation in genre, literary styles, and literary forms and also be able to speak across all cultures throughout all the history of mankind. This doesn’t show the Bible is authoritative or trustworthy, but it does mean trying to attack the Bible without understanding the literary landscape does not nullify its authority or trustworthiness.

otseng wrote: Sat Oct 30, 2021 9:46 pm One advantage of having the Bible as a written document is the promotion of literacy. And it has been an instrumental factor in promoting literacy across many cultures.

The rise of literacy of the English language can be largely attributed to the Bible.

As for the credibility of the Bible, the Bible makes many historical and natural claims. The historical reliability is confirmed by archeological evidence. And natural claims are supported by natural evidence. We explored two examples of this – the siege on Jerusalem and the global flood.

otseng wrote: Thu Nov 04, 2021 8:41 am

TRANSPONDER wrote: Wed Nov 03, 2021 4:07 am Of course there’s spin on both sides of the account of the Assyrian siege. But The Bible actually agrees with the Assyrian version. Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem and Hezekiah was able to do a deal with the Assyrians and pay tribute, which was a bit of a face – loss for Assyria. The Bible agrees this but separates it from the account of the siege that claims that the Assyrian army was smitten by God. Virtually vanished.

Let’s use this as a case story for digging in and trying to find out the truth.

otseng wrote: Mon Nov 08, 2021 11:22 pm At first, we’ll simply look at the evidence and explain what is the sequence of steps of how all the strata were formed. What evidence is there that large amounts of time passed for each stratum? How did the strata form? When did faults occur? When did erosion occur? When did folding occur?