Do you really believe that the Bible (defined as the Old and New Testament Scripture only) is the sole infallible rule of faith and practice for the church? Or is it simply inerrant and infallible, but not really sufficient for Christian life?Well, let me quote a declaration (the Cambridge Declaration to be exact) so that we may understand what Scripture Alone is all about…
“We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.”
Biblical Foundation: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; note also the implications of Matthew 22:29-32; Luke 24:27; Acts 20:29-32, 26:22-23
In the above noted passage of Matthew we see that Jesus says God spoke to them through what they read (the Scriptures). In Luke, Christ shows them in all the Scriptures what all the Prophets and Moses said concerning Him. In Acts Paul commits them to the Word of God. And again in Acts, Paul says he is simply restating what the Prophets and Moses foretold (in the Scriptures) would happen.
This is paramount to understanding orthodox Christianity and, more over, understanding anything about God with any certainty. If we do not believe this great doctrine then how can any of us know Jesus Christ or trust Him for who He really is? If we don’t believe this, then who was Jesus? Was He an enlightened man after the likeness of Buddha? Was He simply the prophet of Islam? Or maybe He was just a swell teacher… oh wait… we actually have to read historical documents and believe they are true in order to know anything about Him, more over, to even know he existed or taught anything at all! =) Thus my obvious sarcasm.
So, then we must ask what our Authority is… As stated above, the Bible is the sole Authority for orthodox Christianity and fully infallible and inerrant in the original documents. Thus, if we believe this truth, we should have no problem relying on God to preserve His Word for us in reliable copies made throughout history by Godly men seeking to have God’s Word (as we have Bibles in our houses) and help other people know God’s Word by spreading the Scriptures around as much and as far into the world as they can.
Do you know that the New Testament is the most historically attested book from antiquity? And that the Old Testament is the second most historically attested? That simply means that the Bible is the book with the most manuscripts (compared to any other book in antiquity), from many different areas in the world, that all line up with each other and show hardly any variance in the copies that still exist today. We actually have (though few) papyri of a portion of John’s Gospel from the second century, AD, that contains the same text found in the other manuscript copies that contain the full text of the New Testament!
And with a Church that was brutally persecuted the first 300 years of its existence, it didn’t actually have the time or resources to track down or keep up with all the copies that were made of the New Testament. Therefore the idea that the Bible has been changed over the early Christian years will never hold up because there were so many New Testament documents passed around in the known world the first three hundred years that, with no central controlling authority (like Islam), the Church would never have been able to obtain all the copies of the New Testament books, let alone make any amendments to the documents without many copies being left out or hidden from being changed. Besides, we have no evidence throughout early Church history that such a thing took place!
Do you really think that the teaching of the Bible has ever been popular with the non-Christian world?! Look at the first 300 years… the world governments persecuted and killed Christians for their teachings. Even now it’s still hated today in most of popular culture. People by default don’t like the doctrines of hell, grace and Jesus Christ. (Note, the ‘christians’ who don’t subscribe to all those doctrines are not Christians and they hate God) Christianity is not a religion that has ever been popular with the majority of the world, so why would we ever conclude that the Church “tried to change,” or “actually did change,” the Bible (into what it ‘currently’ teaches – Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and eternal life) when people (as a whole or majority), throughout history, have never wanted to follow what it teaches anyway? They still don’t! And therefore the only way they can place doubt on Christianity is to cast doubt on its Authority, because they don’t like what it says and teaches, just like those who persecuted Christianity the first 300 years! Books like the Da Vinci Code only tell us in the end that all roads lead to heaven and that you can worship what ever gods you want. Do you think that a polytheistic culture like the Roman Empire would care about such RELATIVE teachings that, note this, they already had?! I don’t think so…
Christianity is the only world religion that teaches man can do nothing to change Himself or even work with God to change Himself. But instead, God alone gets to choose who goes to heaven and man has no right to say anything about it! (John 6 & Romans 9) For God “has mercy on whom He has mercy” and God “hardens whom He hardens.” What other world religion teaches such a thing? What other world religion teaches that man is dead in trespasses and sins and cannot resurrect himself to life? (Ephesians 2) What other world religion teaches that faith and repentance is granted to the people of God (Ephesian 2:8-9 & 2 Timothy 2:25) in which they can THEN freely love God and praise Him for saving them from hell and giving them eternal life according to His good pleasure? What other world religion actually doesn’t teach that man has to perform something to merit heaven? I have yet to find one and don’t actually see one existing anytime soon.
True Christianity doesn’t make sense to people (1 Corinthians 1:22-23) and that is why it’s such a deficient argument to think that the Bible has been changed over the years when it still teaches what I have just stated above. Haven’t you seen that people always want to change things, or ignore them, so that they can be more affluent or more accepted? If the Bible has actually been changed over the years then why wasn’t it changed into something more universal like the rest of the world religions?
The Dark Age should tell us enough that the Bible was never changed because it was the Roman Catholic church that kept people from reading it (the common people didn’t know Latin, only the priests knew it) because that church wanted to stay in power and simply wanted people to think they could buy their way into heaven and merit God’s grace by doing something or following some procedure to earn their way into heaven.
Lastly, the fact that Scripture has not been changed over the years leads us to believe that either the writers were liars or actually telling the truth. But if they were liars, then why did Christianity flourish in the face of persecution? It wouldn’t unless they had sufficient testimony that Jesus Christ died and 3 days later rose from the grave! The Bible is that testimony and record of historical facts including what Christ and His Apostles taught and did in the first century, AD.
It should be trusted as such and accepted as God’s revelation to mankind about Himself and what He has done, is doing, and will do in the midst of mankind – namely saving His people whom He loved before the foundation of the world and bringing the greatest Glory unto Himself by creating the best of all worlds in which to do so.
People just don’t like that, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God by which to save them and bring them into all truth! Amen!