Monday, November 2, 2009

The Bible: Taking on A Classic Argument for Divine Inspiration

I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I also believe that the current sixty-six books we have fully constitute the inspired Scriptures - nothing should be added, none should be left out. But lately I've been thinking critically about an argument we Christians have been trained to use to help prove the inspiration of Scripture.

For years I have believed, and taught, that one of the greatest testimonies to the divine inspiration of the Bible is the incredible unity it contains. We tell students that the Scriptures were written over a 1500 year period, on three different continents, and in three different languages. We say that it was written by over 40 different authors in all different walks of life: farmers, kings, judges, poets, tax collectors, priests, doctors, etc.

And we like to point out how, in spite of these vast influences of time, culture, and geography, the Holy Writ is amazingly consistent in dealing with such controversial topics as the nature of God, the nature of man, death, eternity, personal ethics, worship, etc.

Finally, we conclude this proves that One Divine Hand guided the writers as they wrote. But, I have to wonder . . . does it really? I mean, all of that is true, but is it a valid argument for divine inspiration?

Plain and simple, the sixty-six books of the Bible are so remarkably consistent because way back in 393 AD, a standard was recognized to weed out books and letters that just didn't fit in.

This standard is called the “canon” – an architectural term referring to a standard measuring rod. In 393 the Council of Hippo (no giggling!) recognized the canon for the Bible.

From (emphasis mine):
To be recognized as canonical, a book had to be Apostolic, fit in with the other scriptures, and have been of fruitful use throughout the church up to that time.

So, claiming that the unity of Scripture is indicative of divine inspiration is simplistic and misleading – mundane steps were taken to insure they were unified.

Yes, the Bible is the word of God, but there are much better reasons to believe.

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