In one of the articles at your web site someone was asking about how we can trust that the Bible came out correctly b/c it was written by human authors. I think this person mentioned something about they believe in God and believe the Bible was inspired by God, but that since it was authored by humans, how can we be sure that they didn’t slip up, or put the wrong books in, or out of order etc. I’ve given this a lot of consideration. Now I hope I’m not being presumptuous, b/c I read your response and it was rock solid and I felt it in the spirit, but since this is an issue that I held for quite some time, I wanted to report to you what finally settled it for me for good and I never returned. Maybe it might be useful to you somehow. But finally I received it.
I realized that yes it seems a logical argument to make, but it’s actually not logical in the context. B/c before you can conclude on this issue, you have to resolve the fundamentals of God. Now I just assume that when we are talking about God, we are talking about an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator. I’m pretty sure this is also what athiests designate as God, just that they say this God does not exist. But the point is I’m pretty sure we [Christians?] all accept the premise of God being all-powerful and all-knowing, and the argument is whether or not this being exists.
With that context, I finally realized what I was saying to myself…ok I know there’s a God, and I know the Bible is inspired by God, but what if it got messed up? So I know there’s an all-powerful, all-knowing God, but what if He made a mistake and can’t fix it? When that came clear to me, all I could think was, “Why have I wasted so much time entertaining this notion?” If you’ve come far enough to believe in God, please don’t spend time second guessing stuff like whether or not the Bible is accurate. I’m supremely confident that God, even through us wonky and fallible humans, can get the order of the books in the Bible right. Anyway, I personally think this issue is one of the world’s snares, b/c at first take it seems complex and deep, but really it just boils down to whether or not you believe God is omniscient+almighty. If you believe that there’s no actual possible way for you to then believe that the Bible got messed up. I spent years pondering this, so I’m pretty sure this argument is from the sowers of discord b/c it’s a complete waste of time. God doesn’t allow his work or his will to be broken. So it’s either you believe in God or not. If you do, then the Bible is correct and made perfectly, by the definition of God, and if you don’t believe in God, guess what, you don’t care about the Bible enough to get this deep into thought about it. But I know this has wasted more Christians’ time than just me and the guy who wrote the original question, so I wanted to try to pitch in what helped me.
Great comments! I agree with you that it is only logical that an omniscient and omnipotent God would obviously create a perfect, inspired and infallible scripture for us. This is logical and it can be of great comfort to the believers, and I think that your argument is completely sound.
But, we must interact with people who do not believe and also with believers who still have doubts. That is why, in addition to telling people what you say in your letter, we must also continue to address the questions that come up from both believers and skeptics one at a time. To tell an unbeliever that he or she simply must believe is obviously not going to work. This is why we must do the kinds of things I do, even though, as believers, we trust God in these areas on basic principles, such as those you say below.
Peter tells us to “always be prepared to given an answer” (1 Peter 3:15) to the questions of skeptics (and presumably of believers as well). I intend to obey this command.
By the way, so you know, your statement above is somewhat of a simplification for this reason. Although I believe what you say about the autograph (this is the fancy way of saying the original actual writings) writings is true, there are two problems that affect what we read. First of all, God used fallible humans, not only to write the perfect, inspired autograph writings, but also to copy the manuscripts. We know that errors do creep into the manuscripts through the process of copying. So, the original writing may be perfect, but the available Greek and Hebrew manuscripts do have some very small errors caused by copying errors.
Also, there is the problem of translation. We read translations, and human translators are not perfect. Even if they were, the English or Spanish or Chinese translation of a Hebrew or Greek text cannot possibly be exactly the same as the original. Even if someone speaks Greek or Hebrew, the meanings of words do change over time.
So, although I totally agree with your point above about the fact that a perfect God can and did create a perfect inspired scripture for us, the fact is that what we read is just slightly less than perfect because of copying and translating. And besides, those we know, both skeptics and believers with doubts, will need us to be able the many questions that arise over the reliability of the Bible.