This is the fourth piece in a series in which I want to explain why some Christian people are abandoning the authority of the Bible and why you shouldn’t.
What is the Bible? You can actually answer that question in a myriad of ways can’t you! It’s a book. It’s a religious book. It’s a collection of books. It’s the books of the church. It’s a book about God. It’s a book about Jesus. It’s a fairy story. It’s a lie.
It’s an age old question and one that has become more and more central to the life of the church in the 20th and 21st century. What I mean is that there are a variety of different versions of Christianity doing the rounds today that have departed from the mainstream and you can distinguish them based on their view of the Bible.
Mormons say the Bible is good but there is another book that’s better. The Roman Catholic Church says the Bible is good but not enough. Modern Liberal Christianity says the Bible was a good starting point for understanding but we must also listen to everything else.
The list could go on and we ought to note that the battle for the Bible has been going on for centuries but has become clearer in the last 50 years with the implications playing out in the church. As an example, I think it is fair to say that as a Christian your view on homosexuality and whether you support gay marriage will be defined by your view of the Bible and you can tell what someone’s view of the Bible is by their view on such things.
Ultimately, I am leading us to this question: who thought the Bible up, breathed it out and wrote it down and why?
For Christians through the ages, and certainly since the reformation, the evidence of the Bible itself gives ample reason to claim that the Bible came from, was spoken, by God. Indeed, the teaching of the church has been that the Bible was given, not sought and not invented. God was not at the mercy of human whims, but rather in and through the personalities of human authors, God spoke and God still speaks. So when we talk about the authority of the Bible, what is being asserted is that it has divine and human authorship so that we trust it as the Word of God in human speech.
Where does this idea come from? The clearest articulation is 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
But it also comes from the mouth of Jesus for whenever he quoted the Old Testament it is clear that he understood that he was speaking the very Word of God.
More next week!