Is the Bible the Foundation for Christianity?
The day and age in which we live is a critical one. With the advances in science and technology, with better scholarship and, the most biblical manuscripts available in history, it is nothing short of astounding what many believe today regarding the Bible, faith, religion, religious practice, religious dogmas, etc. The critical faculty of today’s scholars, as well as scholars of old, has tremendous value. It is not to be despised since they are doing the long and tedious research in the area of textual criticism to expose errors and demolish the false teachings of many. There are many scholars out there that have brought to light the errors in translation of biblical text in order to find a closer tenet of truth to what the original authors of the scriptures wrote. Scholars do not bring these errors to light to destroy truth, but to help in bringing out the truth! We must realize this. Every article on my blog is not designed to tear down and discredit the truths that the Bible contains, they are to educate and inform people of the tares that have entered in through translation that have caused a race of people great harm throughout history – women. Once we know what the tares are, they can be weeded out of our thought processes and the beginning of change to undo this great harm can begin.
The day and age in which we live is one of the best in history. It has surpassed every other era in the areas of technology, invention, discovery and modern conveniences to help us live easier and better lives. This said, the area of textual criticism regarding the Bible brings to those that endeavor to educate the populous regarding the errors, changes and additions, much anger. As a result of this critical and destructive response by those that espouse an affiliation as “children of God and His Christ,” division and strife abound and, hatred spews toward those that bring these biblical criticisms to light. What one must realize is that none of these expositions are new! Scholars have known for centuries about them, but the populous has not. As a result, it has led to the Bible being the foundation and cornerstone of Christian belief and practice for many.
The Bible is a large book and an old book. But the trouble is that the majority of Christians will not allow themselves to read the facts that scholars put out regarding translation. This could be due to a fear that what they read may raise questions and doubts in their minds regarding truth, inerrancy and infallibility that they have been taught lies in their particular translation of the Bible. Or, it simply could be due to the control of information by their respective religious institution. Fear of studying outside the “approved” literature of the church could be another factor. Because of these fears, the weapons that Christians use against those that expose errors in translation are ridicule, shaming, humiliation and character assassination as mentioned on this blog, toward the authors.
When we think about this, it almost seems as if TRUTH has no chance of ever coming to the surface. For when truth is exposed, we find that man’s true nature is brought to light and it does not reflect Christ at all. We find all manner of abuses, pride and deception, underneath the mantle of righteousness that is worn and projected by many who claim the name of Christ. It’s a tough realization that a very large number of people are not interested in having the light of “truth” shown to them when it involves the Bible. Remember, what I said earlier. We expose the error, not to destroy the truth, but to help in bringing people closer to the real truth! There are many alarmists in religion that do their best to stop others from being educated so that they can make spiritual decisions for themselves and their families on their own — outside of religious leaders and institutions — based on the evidence. These alarmists underestimate the power and persistency of man’s spiritual nature: his conscience and spiritual longings. This hunger for truth is a hunger of spirit which, for many, cannot be satisfied until the “tares” are identified and removed from their spiritual foundations. And as long as the Bible is the only hopeful source of supply for these spiritual longings and hungers, it is imperative that we do our due diligence to make sure that we feed it truth and not error. Error will always lead to inequality, oppression and control.
The reality is that there is a more excellent way than what some religions teach us. We already understand that the Bible allows us to see God’s provision for our spiritual wants; makes it evident that nowhere else can we find “the words of eternal life.” And once we make this discovery, exposition of error will affect one’s spiritual walk or journey very little because the foundation of one’s faith is solid.
There will always be those that criticize the findings of scholars. We know that. There will always be questions raised. However, don’t let these questions and the zeal they invoke, cause us to set a bar to our actions that lead us to extend unkindness, hatred and slander against another person. Instead of focusing on the errors exposed, try and focus on what truths can be found in the Bible! Once you make that your focus, there will not be much of anything that will upset you. There is only one major truth that needs a person’s sole focus in order to keep at peace, one’s conscience – that truth is Jesus Christ.
I am one of those people that believe that there is nothing in the Bible, when it is properly understood, which contradicts astronomy, geology, or any of the sciences; but, it is far less important to try and convince someone of this than to show them what there is in the Bible that can give them eternal life. While questions of authority and authenticity are of great importance, and our obligation should be to acknowledge the truths that scholars bring to light in translation, we must realize that the Bible IS its own best witness despite the errors found. Once our eyes are opened to what the Bible contains – bread for the soul, medicine for depression, sadness, loss and loneliness, comfort in time of sorrow, strength in time of great and pressing need, and most important of all, hope in death—these will be the evidences we need as proof of its divine nature. Granted there are dark and uncertain places in scripture: just don’t dwell on them. Take and use what is helpful and leave the rest alone until such a time as your spirit is ready to understand them. Time and experience make for great teachers in helping us to understand later what we could not understand at first.
One thing that I have come to realize is that there are countless multitudes that are intellectually wide awake but spiritually dead. The Bible tells us plainly that, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). This explains why some are transformed completely when their spiritual eyes are opened to God’s truths. There lies in the heart of man a natural hunger for God; a hunger to KNOW Him, to be accepted of Him and, to please Him.
But what about those who say there is no God? Well, we cannot say anything to them unless we have the scholarship enough to be able to prove in detail that every part of the Bible IS from God. Even Peter, when Jesus said things too hard to digest, decided that he would not let the sayings choke his faith and continued on saying, “To whom shall we go?” and “…we believe, and are sure, that Thou are that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69). Peter did not feel it absolutely necessary that his understanding be opened so long as he could fall back on Christ Himself. Herein lies an important lesson for the times in which we live. There is a very prevalent notion within Christendom that the Bible is the only foundation upon which Christianity rests; that the inspiration of the Scriptures is the main truth and, that a particular translation is inerrant and infallible. But let me make a point here. The Bible NEVER claims to be the FOUNDATION of Christianity. Those that have the Bible as their foundation, or a part of their foundation, have been handed a “wooden nickel.” The scriptures tell us that “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” “Ye are built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” The Lord Himself says: “I AM the truth.” When the Word of God is spoken of by way of emphasis, it is not the written word that is meant, but the incarnate Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (See also 1 John 1: 1,2). Not the Bible, but Christ Himself, is the ultimate foundation on which the entire system of Christianity rests.
By remembering this, it will keep us clear of the disputations of men and the vitriol dished out toward those that disagree or expose the errors and abuses that lurk underneath religion’s mantle. Think about this: WHY do you believe in Christ? Because you find it in the Bible. Why do you believe what you find in the Bible? Because the Bible is inspired. How do you know that it is inspired? Because the Bible says so. This is not sound reasoning. No intelligent Christian should ever take such a position. An inspired Bible is a broad foundation on which to build a mighty structure, but men still want to know, and we do not blame them for wanting to know, on what foundation the inspired Bible rests.
As said earlier, the Bible is its own best witness. It does bear the ability to enter into the human heart in a way that no other work in the history of the world can. It truly satisfies the soul of every human in a way that no other work can. Of course scholars have brought to light the many thousands of errors in translation – the “tares” as I call them. But, is it necessary to know what all the errors are before deciding on what foundation to rest our souls upon? No. If Christ Himself is our foundation, then our foundation is immovable, despite what is brought to light. We are not resting in the Bible, we are resting in Christ, our hope of glory.
And so, we ask another question: on what authority do you believe the Bible to be the Word of God? On authority of Christ. But how do you know about Christ so as to credit Him, and acknowledge His authority? Do we need to fall back upon inspiration for this knowledge? Not at all. We know about Him in the same way as we know about Julius Caesar, only with far greater certainty. The annals of history record the life of Christ and have shown us who he is apart from any theory of inspiration. If Jesus speaks in the name of God, then we have reason to believe what He says about God, what He says about Himself, what He says about the Holy Spirit, what He says about Scripture, what he says about our duty, what He says about our destiny.
With Christ Himself as the foundation of our faith, we have a position that is sure and much less susceptible to attack and dismantling. There have been throughout history, many objections raised regarding various passages of scripture. But what if we cannot answer these objections? It doesn’t mean they are unanswerable. Because surely all objections have been heralded over and over again throughout history and answered! It just requires far more extensive knowledge than the average Christian has. Most Christians have been spoon-fed their beliefs and many have their foundations resting on what they have been taught the Bible says. Therefore, when an objection is raised regarding contradictions and errors, it is very difficult to have an answer! How many of us have felt as if our very foundations were about to crumble because we could not answer a simple objection to a Bible story or because we could not reconcile the flood with the observations of science? Why is this? Because of the mistaken notion that the BIBLE is the innermost citadel of our faith. The Bible is not the citadel of our faith. It is the open country; and a very extended country it is. It requires an encyclopedic scholar to cover the whole ground in his mind, and to be armed at every point. What is the citadel? It is Christ Himself. And the best way for Christians to respond when they are pressed with difficult objections and questions about the Bible that they do not know the answers to is to simply respond with: “It is not Noah I believe in, or Joshua, or whatever or whomever else, but Christ.” Those are only side issues. Really, what can anyone say about Christ? Do they have anything negative to say about Him? Do they feel competent enough to criticize Him? Are they wise enough, and good enough, and great enough to sit in judgment of Him?
It is really amazing to see how well the Bible has stood the unnatural strain which has been put upon it. There are countless Christians all over the world that have dealt very unreasonably with it. They have treated it as if it claimed to have been struck off from stereotype plates in heaven and dropped down to earth—a purely divine production! Whereas the human authorship of its different parts is not only not concealed, but is spoken of just in the same way as if there were no doctrine of inspiration. Yet there are those that have claimed for it the same kind of ideal perfection that you should expect to find, if it were not human in its origin at all. Scholars have already brought to light the mistranslations, the errors and the changes in translation of texts. To blindly believe in inerrancy and infallibility, defies intellect and sound reasoning. Yet, the Bible has withstood all and is still the number one book people turn to when their souls are hurting and they are in need of comfort and strength, direction and truth. They do this not because the Bible may be their foundation of faith, but because they know that it contains the words of truth, comfort and strength they are searching for. It contains a record of the TRUTH—which is Christ. Though not inerrant, it still speaks to man’s heart and heals wounds. This said, it is not our foundation. Our foundation alone is Christ. “The Rock of Ages” whose challenge still rings out strong and clear across the centuries, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” And again, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life;”—and again, “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”
It also may be worth noting that it greatly elevates our conception of revelation to make Christ and not the Bible the ultimate foundation. We are familiar with the objection that has been made to a revelation in a book. And if it were indeed true, that it was in nothing better than a book, that God had revealed Himself, then there might be some reason why thinking people should say: “Give us the glorious revelation of nature. Don’t ask us to turn from its magnificent pages to paper and ink!” But, this is not the case. The revelation that God has given us is not a book, but something immeasurably nobler and grander. It is a revelation in a LIFE. “The Word was made”—what? Paper and ink? Not at all. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Here indeed is a revelation worthy of God. “Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” Most fitting is that during Jesus’ darkest hour, the rocks rend, the graves opened, and darkness overspread the sky. Greater than great nature is nature’s Lord. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Can you conceive of any revelation greater than that which God has given us in Him who is the true and eternal Word of God?
As for the Bible, it is but the record of the revelation—a priceless record—one which we can never overvalue and which we cannot too diligently study; but it is only a record: a record of His coming as the central theme, with the long course of preparation in the days of the Old Covenant, and the results in the development of the New. “Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of me.” John in Patmos gives the right order: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying: I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and, What thou seest, write in a book.” So is it throughout the entire Scriptures. If in a certain sense we are “built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,” let it never be forgotten that “Jesus Christ Himself is the chief corner-stone.” The Apostles and Prophets had no Bibles. They only had Christ, their HOPE and STRENGTH. They did not have disputations like we have today regarding inerrancy and infallibility!
In closing, let me say this regarding the terms of salvation as announced in the Bible. They also agree totally with what has been said here about our foundation of faith—it is Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that, “we should believe everything that is in the Bible and we will be saved.” It is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Don’t trouble yourselves about errors and the like that the Bible contains. Trouble yourself with making SURE your foundation; that it is in CHRIST and not the BIBLE. After you have believed in Christ and taken Him as your Savior, it will not be difficult for you to find out that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine and for reproof, and for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” And when the errors are brought to light that man has made in translation, your faith and foundation will not be shaken and, you can truly understand and utilize this Book for everyday living setting right in your mind the errors you once believed.