Dealing with Doubt


Bible Study 1

Bible Study 1 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

 

 

This post was a private discussion on another site, but I thought it could be very useful to others, so I have edited it and removed all identifying comments.  I hope what I have included might be helpful to others who are dealing with doubt, especially where the Scriptures are concerned.

We can use the H.A.P. tactic on unbelievers (History proves the Bible, Archaeology proves the Bible, and Prophecy proves the Bible).

Textual Criticism

Experts in the establishment of the texts from where the Bible comes say the ancient documents of both the Old and New Testament communicate accurately the original data of the original author. In other words, the Bible we have now accurately communicates what the original documents did.

1. New Testament:

A. The number of New Testament manuscripts and the consistency of them are significant and astounding by itself. There are approximately 5,700 manuscripts that contain some portion of the New Testament. (1)

B. The verbal agreement between the various manuscripts is closer than between many English translations.

C. The percentage of variations in the New Testament manuscripts is approximately 7%. (2)

D. When the variations of the various manuscripts are compared, the majority of correct and incorrect transmissions are easily recognized.

E. No matter of doctrine hinges on a variant reading. (3)

2. Old Testament:

A. BHS (4) notes only one textual issue for every ten words. Thus, 90% of the text is without variant. (5) In other words, 90% of the text of the Old Testament is exactly what the original author wrote. (6)

B. Errors and textual variations that exist in the Old Testament “Affect the intrinsic message only in relatively few instances.” (7)

Therefore, what we have today, as the Bible, is an extremely accurate presentation of the original autographs. What the original authors wrote…we have nearly perfect.

Footnotes:

(1) Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1992 pg 52

(2) Paul D Wegner, A Students Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible, IVP Academics, Downer Grove, Ill, 2006 pg 25

(3) Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1992 pg 158

(4) edited by: H. Van Dyke Parunak, Richard Whitaker, Emanuel Tov, Alan Groves, et al. , Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia, Hebrew Text, Copyright 1990 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart Morphological Data, Copyright 2004 Westminster Theological Seminary

(5) As Bruce Waltke points out, it is important to set the issue in perspective. He suggests that, on average, there is about one textual note in BHS for each ten words. Textual criticism, by its very nature, focuses on the variant readings, but the 90% or more of the text that exists without variation must also be kept in view. (Brotzman here cites Waltke, “Old Testament Textual Criticism.”) Brotzman, Ellis R.: Old Testament Textual Criticism : A Practical Introduction. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 1994, S. 23

(6) It is evident that the goal of the Masoretes was not correction or improvement, but rather preservation without change of the text in the form that they had received it. Brotzman, Ellis R.: Old Testament Textual Criticism : A Practical Introduction. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 1994, S. 54

(7) Shermaryahu Talmon, Old Testament Text, The Cambridge History Bible, 1:161

Or Archaeology…

Where does this leave us? We have an accurate account but is the account accurate? For this, we look to history and archaeology.

1. Archaeology has verified almost all the historical events, peoples, nations, cities, and customs portrayed in Scripture. Many of these facts were once rejected by skeptics because, for centuries, their existence was mentioned only in the Bible. (1)

2. Nelson Glueck, a scholar who specialized in ancient documents such as the Bible, remarked, “it can be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.” (2)

Prophecy

3. Likewise, hundreds of Old Testament prophecies have been borne out by history. (3) Most noteworthy are the dozens of prophecies that predict the coming, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (4)

4. All together, these and other historical evidences are powerful and compelling proof of the historicity of the Bible. (5)

Therefore, the Bible has been verified by the historical and archeological discoveries of man. No matter of history or archeology has ever been discovered which proves that the data recorded in the Bible is inaccurate.

Footnotes:
(1) Story, Dan: Christianity on the Offense : Responding to the Beliefs and Assumptions of Spiritual Seekers. Grand Rapids, MI : Kregel Publications, 1998, S. 85

(2) Story, D. (1997). Defending your faith (37). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. Nelson Glueck, RIVERS IN THE DESERT (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publications Society of America, 1969), 31.

(3) Many books have been written that record details of fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Good introductory studies include Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, chapters 9 and 11, and John Warwick Montgomery, ed., Evidence for Faith, chapter 4.

(4) John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Case for Jesus the Messiah: Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1989).

(5) Story, Dan: Christianity on the Offense : Responding to the Beliefs and Assumptions of Spiritual Seekers. Grand Rapids, MI : Kregel Publications, 1998, S. 85

In the Dead Sea Scrolls the book of Ezekiel is verbatim. Isaiah is also very accurate. However, it is not our job to *prove* scripture is God’s breathed Word. God does the heart transplanting/refurbishing. We are just the messengers. The real issue is do you believe the Scriptures. Jesus said, in a parable,

“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31 ESV)

The point of this teaching is that the Scriptures and their teaching is to be the focus of belief. Proofs outside are somewhat irrelevent.

The passage is teaching that if the do not believe what the Scriptures say then they WILL NOT believe even if they were an eye witness to the resurrection of Christ. We saw this as true. Those who crucified Jesus, set a guard on the tomb, and sealed it, later refused to believe even when the posted Roman guards gave testimony about the earthquake, the angel and the empty tomb (Matt. 28:11 – 15).

We can be diligent to show others the truth but eventually we have to realize that proofs do not work on an unwilling heart. Continue to fight the good fight but leave the outcome to whatever seems good to the Lord.

Many people believe Christ is their  savior, but state that they don’t believe in ALL of the Bible, only parts. John 14:6 … and Matt 7 … state

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but those who do the will of God who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

These folks were “religious” folks, they even did many great things in the Name of Jesus, but they were LOST and they went to HELL because they expected to get to Heaven based on their “many wonderful works”.

It’s all about whether you CONFESS CHRIST as your Savior, or REJECT CHRIST as your Savior – THAT is all that ultimately matters. IF a person is truly saved, then their OUTWARD DEEDS will reflect the INWARD CHANGE.

Jesus continually called attention to Scripture by saying, “Have you not read” or ” it is written.” Jesus believed the OT was the word of God and could be the judge in any debate.

The percentages (7% and 10%) above are not meant to show the perfection of transmission but that there was an original autograph that was perfect and that people were dedicated to copying it and NOT adding to it. They believed it was the word of God and refused to add or take away from it. They copied it (only) and when they found transmission error (misspelled words, skipped words, and the like) they corrected the corrupted copies.

We have an accurate representation of the original documents. As such, we determine our worldview based on it and correct our thinking to it and not other worldviews. A misguided worldview won’t allow people to believe certain points because the worldview dismisses valid evidence as invalid without examination. A worldview commitment determines what is and is not good evidence. When someone dismisses evidence out of hand it shows a worldview issue.

First Cor. 15:1 – 2 discusses the subjective aspect of belief (what saving belief looks like) and 3 – 11 show the content or particulars of what is believed. This provides a foundation for a solid Christian worldview.

The Holy Bible, to those who are really seeking the truth, is enough proof for anyone to make an informed choice about their walk with God. Too much worldly intellect gets in the way of Spiritual growth. God clearly reveals Himself to those who are looking for Him. You’ve got to have Faith that it’s true” … Faith IS what it’s all about!

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!! … Rom 10:17 Without faith we are worthless, as James says. In our weakness, God is glorified. The important thing here is how important Faith is to our salvation. We are not saved by anything other than Jesus’ blood, and our hope is built upon that. But, without faith, we cannot accept all that He has done and will do… Just as down through the centuries God’s children have listened to His promises, believed and rested in the fact that it is only God who lifts the fallen, who are bent beneath their heavy loads.

The problem with scripture is not God, it is us. The old hymn says it best; all we can do is trust and obey, there is no other way. I have found when these questions arise; there are deeper issues that need to be addressed. You either have trust or obedience issues that have nothing really to do with scripture or will have to be drawn out and addressed before the scripture will ever be made clear and plain in your life. The debate over inerrancy is really a debate over authority; over who is the Lord of our lives.

Not to over-simplify the struggle but the real answer is, “read it.”  Just stop and read the Bible with on open mind. We can never convince anyone of the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word, but God can. He promised that His Word would accomplish that for which He sent it. I encourage everyone to read the Word and let God do the convincing.

People question the authority, the validity, or even inerrancy of the Holy Bible simply because those folks don’t want to be held accountable to its end purpose (2 Tim 3:16-17) …

 

 

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About mamaheartfilled

I am a mother of eight wonderfully challenging children and nine grandkids, of whom I am very proud. I am also a bi-vocational ordained evangelical minister, and a Christian Counselor. I received my B.S. degree in 2004, studying primarily in the areas of Psychology, with minors in Religion and English. I received my Masters Degree in 2009 in Psychological Counseling with an emphasis in Christian Counseling. I have endeavored to paraphrase the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, for the last ten years or so and am working on a final edit, now. It is my hope that it will be of some use in the great commission of Christ. My ministry is primarily geared toward victims of sexual and domestic violence, including victims of childhood sexual abuse, whether currently or in the past. Since I have personally experienced the healing hand of God in overcoming many of the life issues that Christians may face, I feel qualified and compelled to discuss them in a truthful and open manner, as God’s word tells us that “We shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.” God has brought me through such diverse tribulations as sexual, physical, and mental abuse, being a victim of a drunk driving accident, spousal pornography addiction, adultery, divorce, remarriage, a very brief, though unjust, incarceration, and having experienced multiple miscarriages and various other trials. I have been asked to leave two Southern Baptist Churches, due to my being a female, ordained as a minister, and fired from a SBC sponsored Christian School (mostly white) for speaking out against racial prejudice in the Family of God. Through God’s merciful forgiveness of my own sins and inadequacies and God’s grace given to me to forgive those who have been a stumbling block to me, I have overcome many of these adversities. God’s word tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to the purposes of God." Since I have this hope, I believe that God has blessed me with the ability to confront and relate these issues to the Christian community around the world. I hope to be able to use my personal experiences as a ministry of God’s grace and in the comforting of the people of God with the truth of God's mercy. I claim II Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 as my calling, which states: “Blessed be God, the Origin of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Origin of mercies, and the God of comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, by the comfort we ourselves have been given by God.” As I have received the gift of God’s healing, I hope to be able to bring the peace beyond understanding to others with the message of God’s mercy and grace. My love for the Sovereign Lord of my life, Jesus Christ, along with my passion for writing has drawn me to explore these commonly experienced crisis issues from the perspective of my own experience in the hope that I may bring an empathetic and compassionate insight to God’s people. I am now a published author and have several books in publication, including my autobiography, "A Little Redneck Theology." The views expressed in my writings are strictly my own insights, acquired from personal experience and diligent study of the related topics and God’s word concerning them. Though I am an ordained minister, my views should not be considered authoritative. I believe that the Christian community’s ultimate authority is the guidance of the human heart by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
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