013 Can We Really Trust The Bible?

April 21, 2013 — 9 Comments

 

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013 Can We Really Trust The Bible?

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Can We Really Trust The Bible?

The way I’ve spoken about the Bible has changed throughout the years.

Life doesn’t seem as clear-cut as it did when I was a teenager. I wrestle with passages of Scripture in ways I never did.

In discussing whether we can really trust the Bible, there are two issues that we must mention:

  1. Why are there so many translations of the Bible? Does it matter which one we read?
  2. Which version of the Bible are you talking about? Different people include different books in the Bible.

After wrestling with these questions, I offer two thoughts:

  1. I’m beginning to learn that life requires much more faith than I ever realized.
  2. The accounts of Jesus’ followers in Scripture are trustworthy.

Show Notes – Some helpful resources to learn a bit more about how the Bible was put together and the issues involved.

  1. Apocrypha
  2. Development of the Old Testament Canon
  3. Septuagint
  4. Watergate
  5. Masoretic Text

 

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Transcript – Click here to download a PDF of the episode.

Do you have any questions about anything you heard in the episode?

Have you ever experienced God’s work in your life through the Bible? What helps you place your trust in the Bible?

 

Austin

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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • Interesting thoughts Austin. My one point of curiosity is this: if 15 year old you were to know that your beliefs have evolved to the extent of this podcast, how do you think that Austin would have reacted? Would he be distraught, thinking he’d become a heretic or faithless? What would he have said in his speech class to combat your current thoughts?

    Once in college I remember having a conversation with a random guy on IM who found me because I’d indicated I was interested in having conversations about Christianity. (You remember AIM and how things like that used to happen.) In that conversation I found out that he was gay but also considered himself a faithful Christian, and I remember arguing that you couldn’t be both. He told me about his struggles and his desire to believe in Scripture and how a Greek professor in college explained that what we often translate as homosexual doesn’t mean that in the modern day context, etc etc. These are arguments I’m familiar with now but this was the first time I’d heard them.

    Once he heard that I was only 21 and had been a Christian for only three years, he dismissed all of my points outright. He said I was too young in the faith and that as my faith grew I would stop seeing things in such black and white terms. I was so angry at having been summarily dismissed like this. I knew more about the Bible than this guy. I was a more faithful Christian than this guy (as was evidenced by my not being gay – an argument he didn’t particularly appreciate). But I still remember my comment to him – “I’ve had less time to let my faith be corrupted by culture and the world.”

    As I’ve had my own faith evolve, as I’ve come to more openly embrace our gay brothers and sisters (though I do still believe in a responsible sexual ethic, just as I do for heterosexuals), that thought will from time to time reverberate through my head. Am I evolving to be a more faithful Christian with a larger faith, or have I been around so long that my faith has been corrupted by culture and the world, but instead of calling it corruption, I want to call it growth?

    I’ve known people who used to have such wonderful faith but then something happened that rocked that faith, and now their faith seems much more pluralistic or relativistic, and they call this growth but I consider it backsliding because it has led them away from the centrality of Jesus. And if one considers such an evolution growth, then one won’t go back to the old ways, even if the new ones are wrong, because it feels like regression. So how do we know where the right place is to draw the line? Thirty years from now, will be shake our heads at what we believe now, the way both of us do in looking back at our younger days? Or will our belief patterns remain static? And if they do remain static, is that a sign of a lack of growth?

    So many issues here.

    I remember having a conversation with a friend at seminary who used to be evangelical but wasn’t anymore. He and I talked about how, when we were evangelical as opposed to whatever we are now, we felt closer to God then – we experienced a more zealous connection with God. I remember asking, “Since we felt closer to God then, but don’t now that our beliefs have shifted, does that mean that those old beliefs were more accurate and God rewarded those beliefs with his presence? Should we go back to being evangelical because of this?” Thankfully now that I’m out of seminary and away from some of the, well, toxicity of that place, my faith has healed and I do experience the fullness of God’s presence in my life again.

    But the question for me still remains. If this is growth, where does it stop? And can we hold up this ideal of evolving to such an extent that we esteem our concept of growth over our concept of faith and truth? In some ways, the thought of my beliefs further evolving – beliefs that I hold to be so sacred and essential to who I am – scares me a bit. But maybe that’s why it’s faith, and as you said, life requires so much more faith now than it did before.

    • Man. This is so true. I especially wrestle with this when I read many of the New Testament letters. I see Paul, James, and Peter talking about making sure to guard our hearts against false teaching and doctrine. They talk about remaining pure from the corruption of the world and living pure, blameless, lives so that other people will notice. And I also think about Jesus’ discussion of the entering through the narrow gate instead of the wide gate.

      It’s such a complex thing. How do we determine what is corrupt from the world and just what is a simple fact? I’m thinking, for example, of creation and evolution. I remember a time when I believed that “Evolutionists” had an agenda – that they were trying to erase God from history. But when you get down to it, we all have an agenda of some sort. Also, many scientists who believe in evolution and profess a faith in God are Christians who’ve studied the world and said, “Evolution explains the way that I see the world at work around me.”
      I’m reminded of a prayer that Earl Palmer, former pastor of University Presbyterian Church said once during a sermon. He said that he prays of himself and others, “As we grow in age, may we grow in grace.” That has been a helpful lens for me to attribute these shifts in thinking as positive growth. Similar experiences to what Peter went through in Acts 10 when God told him to preach to non-Jews. Surely the 15 year-old Peter would have torn his robes in shame and despair if he knew the older Peter would talk with Gentiles.
      And yet, I still can’t deny your central question. How do we know it’s growth and not backsliding? I guess that’s where we have to place our hope in a sovereign, gracious God. I think it also highlights the importance of continually seeking God through his word, prayer, and worship, especially alongside other faithful Christians.

    • scrhill

      That’s a really good point, Evan: Would 15 year old Austin be pleased with 29 year old Austin’s podcast on this topic?
      My views have certainly evolved from high school into college and then a little bit from college into seminary and again from seminary to post-seminary. I think that I hold it in tension with the fact that God is still using Scripture to speak to me and work in my life. I would say I see God’s hand at work in my life moreso now than I did in high school or college and even seminary.
      Maybe I’m more ok with the tension of Scripture because I see God working in my life despite the tension? I read Deuteronomy 29:29 recently that said “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us…” and I took comfort knowing that maybe God has some secret things stored up to reveal to us in heaven and that it is ok that we can’t answer everything with a black or white answer.

  • Amazing dialogue. Thank you all for sharing those comments for all of us to ponder and to you, Austin, for putting the initial thoughts out there.

    • Thanks, Michelle! Evan and I have been wrestling through these thoughts for about six years now. It’s an ongoing conversation, and we’re glad to include others into it.

  • A quesion for your next podcast I have that occured to me today.

    Why do some versions of the Bible avoid the use of Jehovah and even Yahweh on occasion?

    Thanks for all you do Austin. Have a blessed Saturday. 🙂

    • These are good thoughts, Heath!
      I’m not sure about why some translations avoid using Jehovah. But I know that in the Hebrew tradition, God’s name is so divine, that it shouldn’t be spoken aloud. Almost like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series.
      So whenever yod, heh, waw, heh appear in the Hebrew Bible (YHWH), Jewish people say “adoni” or “Lord.” The believe that God’s name is so holy, that they don’t want to misuse it and possibly break the third commandment.
      This has carried over somewhat into our translations of the Bible. Any time you see the LORD in the Bible, it’s referring to YHWH.

      Like you, I believe that God is the source of all truth. Which would include even more than just the words of the Bible. The Greek word in the 2 Timothy 3 passage is a really cool word. It’s compound word, theopneuo. It combines God and breathed or breath. So all the Bible is literally God-breathed.
      Looking at the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), we see passages like Genesis 2:7 where God breathed the breath of life into the dust to create Adam. This breathing is the same pneuo word that’s used in 2 Timothy 3.
      So the same power that God used in giving us life is the power in God’s word, in the Bible. I want to get to know what’s inside that book!

      • Yshr’AlTrueLamb

        Yahuah/YHUH has never hidden His Name or ever said it was too “divine” to utter. That’s called the “law of ineffability” concocted by imposters of His Turah (i.e., rabbi of Judaism, Talmud, Khazars, etc.)He desires for us to know and call on His Name. He instructed Mashah/Moses to tell the people of Yashar’Al/Yisrael what His Name is and how He wanted them to remember/memorialize it (for ever unto all generations). See Exodus 3:14-17. I don’t have the time on this site to list the countless number of scriptures in Turah/(erroneously called Old Test) that support Abanu’s/Our Head/Father’s will regarding His Name. I would like to suggest a site for you to research and engage for further revelation and enrichment concerning YHUH’s Truth. His Name is His Mark/Sign/Seal upon us. What we have of the KJV and most other translations is faulty and very errantly translated. Go to http://www.yadayah.com. May the Ruach Ha’Qadash (Set-Apart Spirit) lead and guide you into ALL TRUTH.

        • Thanks for sharing these extra resources! I would agree with you that God invites us to use his name that’s revealed in Exodus 3. I was just pointing out that some people in the Jewish tradition believe that God’s name should not be spoken.