Can you answer: ‘How did we get our Bible?’
A new resource tackles an age old criticism that impacts on the authority of Scripture
Published: 22 August 2013 (GMT+10)
Not only keen creationists, but even lay Christians will know that one of the biggest skeptical objections to the Christian faith is “Isn’t the Bible just a book written by men?” This question presumes that there all sorts of historical and scientific errors in the Bible, because they believe it is not the infallible Word of God. But if it has historical and scientific errors, how could we trust its doctrinal claims? It’s a great way for people to determine their own anti-biblical doctrines and a self-serving view of God that their ‘itching ears’ want to hear.
For instance, the book of Genesis clearly states God created man and woman for monogamous lifelong marriage, and ordained this union as the only model for the family unit. In the New Testament, Jesus reaffirmed this model deferring to what God had made in real space time history (Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:5–8). But if Genesis was not inspired by God and wrong in the history it teaches, then Jesus was also wrong when He used its authority as His basis for teaching about marriage. As such, if the Bible is not the view of the Creator expressed to humanity, then there is nothing wrong with gay marriage, because it no longer violates a feature of God’s created order. Indeed, legislators all around the world are keen to impose this deviation of the Creator’s rules as the norm.
Sadly, this is where many professing Christians and ministries ‘shoot themselves in the foot’. By watering down the Bible’s history by trying to accommodate the secular interpretations of origins and its corollary of billions of years into Scripture, they ultimately undermine the complete authority of Scripture.
Everything we need to know about the Christian faith, our need for salvation, eternity, and the nature of God comes from only one authoritative source, and that’s the Bible! It’s not rocket science for the unbeliever to work out that if a Christian doesn’t believe the first book to be real history then there is no reason to trust the rest of it, either. Where does the truth actually begin? If any part of Scripture is not really the truth then there is little justification for believing any of it.
An example of a futile defense
For example, the US’s famous self titled ‘Bible Answer Man’, Hank Hannegraf, seeks to provide answers to seekers (including Christians) on a range of Bible and cultural topics. He’s even published a ‘Creation Answer Book’. Its title is only one letter different to CMI’s Creation Answers Book, which we have published for over 20 years (at the time of writing). One wonders how he can claim to be an authority on origins though. He’s long been known as a compromiser on the book of Genesis deferring to the secular view of a big bang an alleged 14 billion years ago and even saying that there was no global Flood. He also believes that the serpent in the Garden was not a literal snake which tempted Eve, and that Behemoth (Job 40: 15–18) and Leviathan (Job 3:8, 41:1; Psalm 74:14, 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1), were metaphors and not dinosaurs that were made on day 6 along with man (though one wonders, how God, when describing something to Job, could ask Job to “behold” a metaphor?).1 On what basis could he claim the Bible is authoritative and inspired if it simply doesn’t mean what it clearly says?
When it comes to a watering down of God’s Word, even arch atheist Richard Dawkins noted that the “sophisticated theologians who are quite happy to live with evolution, I think they’re deluded!” So, one wonders who we think we can win over by pointing to a Bible full of holes and vague meanings.
The biggest selling and most popular book in human history
Besides the history that is recorded in Scripture itself, there is an historical basis for understanding why we believe the 66 books comprise the Bible we have today. That’s why we produced a brand new resource, in the form of a small booklet that is easy for Christians to digest, and one that is cheap enough for them to give away to others (bulk discounts are available). It’s called How did we get our Bible: And is it the Word of God? It includes topics like:
- How do we know the Bible was inspired?
- How was it communicated to human beings?
- What was God’s purpose in doing this?
- How did we arrive at the books we call the Bible?
- How were they preserved throughout history?
- How can we trust the copies we have?
- Are there corrupt translations?
- And much, much more.
In addition, on the inside back cover of the booklet we have produced a full colour chart that shows all the cross references in the books of the Bible (see illustration, right). It is a staggering sight to see the interconnectedness between them, and it aptly demonstrates the incredible unity of Scripture in a visual way. You can view a larger version of it here.
We believe that every person who claims to be a born again believer should be able to answer these questions. Churches and pastors, wouldn’t it be a great idea to get a copy to every single member of your congregation? After all, if all the “I know what the Bible says … but” type comments were diminished because people really did believe the Bible to be the Word of God, wouldn’t our churches be healthier, and possibly more motivated?
Click on the picture above or on the top, right-hand side to order your copies.
- Hanegraaf, H., Leviathan, Dragons, and Dinosaurs, Oh My!, CRJ 36(2):10–11. Return to text.
The Apocrypha were not accepted as canonical by the ROMAN Catholic church until the Council of Trent, which took place AFTER Martin Luther was excommunicated and translated the Apocrypha into German. He said they were not canonical, but worthy of study. We know that Old Testament books were accurately copied because of an elaborate counting scheme that assigned a numerical value to each Hebrew letter, and for a page, all the values added for both original and copy, and if they didn't match, the scribe destroyed the copy and started over. The same methods were often used by people copying New Testament books, since many of them were also Jews and observed the same tradition. We have over 1000 manuscripts for the Old Testament, and over 25,000 for the New Testament, and earliest copies were within one generation of the originals. This is better evidence for the authenticity of the Bible than any other ancient book.
I just wrote to you about the issue of the snake in the garden being different before it was cursed and I found the answer to my question elsewhere on your site. Sorry for jumping the gun on that, but I wanted to thank you for your work, so I did accomplish that, at least!
Thanks Jim, no problem. As we say to many people who ask us questions that are probably already covered in the 9,000+ articles on our site "The search engine is your friend." Blessings.
First, I greatly appreciate the information you provide and I look at the site nearly every day. I find myself discussing apologetics on forums such as Topix often (with tremendous frustration!) and marvel at the foolishness people will believe in. But to my comment: You mention here and in other places I viewed about the "snake" in the garden. I think that the serpent referred to in the garden must not have been the same thing we recognize today as a snake because of the curse upon it. It was cursed by God to crawl upon its belly and eat dust, so is it not logical to conclude that it was likely a quadrupedal or perhaps even bipedal creature? After all, if it was already crawling on the ground, then what is the effect of that part of the curse? Thanks again for your Godly site and work!
Excellent article! And I love that chart. It is indeed a slippery slope when one denies part of the Bible while believing other parts. Where does it end? Sort of like looking for the grey areas between right and wrong. Compromise logically leads to total reversal.
Could you please elaborate as to what is meant by "cross-referencing". The NT can reference a specific passage of the OT because it preceded the NT. Please clarify how does it work in the other direction? Also interesting how the lines become bolder coming back to the Pentateuch emphasizing the importance of these foundational books.
Ron, the graphic was compiled using a standard Bible cross-reference data set. If you notice, the chart is symmetrical, meaning that the data was duplicated. But there are cases where the Old Testament predicts something that has its fulfillment in the New Testament.
Do you discuss the role of the Roman Catholic Church in canonizing Sacred Scripture and also why the Protestants omitted the apocryphal books after 1200 years of their inclusion in Scripture?
Michael, there is no evidence that the Church Fathers quoted the deuterocanonical books as Scripture, or that the deuterocanonical books were considered Scripture. In Jerome's prologue to the Vulgate, the canon excludes the deuterocanonical books, only possibly excepting Baruch.
Furthermore, the Deuterocanonical books have many geographical and historical errors, so are not inerrant as the canonical books are. They are also internally inconsistent; see 1 Macc. 2:41 versus 2 Macc. 15:1ff, for example. Judith 1:1 has Nebuchadnezzar reigning in Neneveh rather than Babylon, and God assists Judith in a lie in Judith 9:10, 13. And most condemning to this position, 1 Macc. 9:27 recognizes that prophecy had disappeared in Israel, while 2 Macc. 15:37-39 admits it was a human composition with possible flaws. See creation.com/authority for more information, and of course, How did we get our Bible?.
The cross reference chart is an incredible piece of work and I can see how this can be used as a valuable witnessing tool to unbelievers and theistic creationists apart from being a valuable reference for creationists. Is it possible to have this chart in a sufficiently large format such that it is easier to follow all the reference lines. As I get older my eyesight is not like it was and following a particular line or lines becomes difficult with so many other lines. Thank you for taking the time to read my comment. Many blessings.
Hi John, if you click on the image it takes you to another page. Then click on it again for a larger version. The chart was not produced for a reference or study purpose but simply to provide a glimpse or indication about the interconnectedness of Scripture. The blurriness of the lines makes a point--that there are so many cross references it is difficult to separate them.