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Why is the bible authoritative?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Merlinus.Ambrosius, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. Merlinus.Ambrosius

    Merlinus.Ambrosius Newbie

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    Why is the bible considered a "divinely inspired" and "authoritative" text? I certainly do believe that there is wisdom to be had and in my personal walk with Christ many things from the bible have been affirmed (such as the divinity of Christ and the love of god etc). However can we take the whole book (with or without the Apocrypha) as divinely inspired and infallible? When many things can be seen as cultural influences from the time of Jesus (for example the role of women in the church etc)?
     
  2. LOCO

    LOCO Church Militant

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    Hello Merlinus,

    That authority or verification cannot come from within the Bible itself. The Catholic Church claimed the authority to define the books of the NT as divinely inspired.

    Say an atheist or agnostic approached you and wanted to know why you believe the Bible is inspired by God. How would you answer this question?

    When I have asked this question, most say "The Bible is inspired because it is the word of God" you see the problem with this? The circular logic that the Bible is what it is because it is. It's like saying, this bicycle is a bicycle because it is a bicycle.

    A statement like the one I mentioned has no bearing on someone unfamiliar to Christianity.

    Women in the Catholic tradition have played and continue to play a important role in the Church as Saints, nuns, lay Catechists etc. Including Mary, t
    he women who have been canonised as female Catholic Saints are recognised for their virtue and the contribution they have made to the Christian religion.

    Many of the great female Catholic Saints were martyrs. They lost their lives in their service to the church and died for their faith and beliefs
    .



    "The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it, and a lie is still a lie, even if everybody believes it." - Archbishop Fulton Sheen
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011
    MrStain likes this.
  3. Merlinus.Ambrosius

    Merlinus.Ambrosius Newbie

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    I agree that women do have an important role in the church and that they have as much a right to "speak in church" as men and yet there is 1 Cor 14:34 which says straight out that they should remain silent. And i also understand understand the circular logic that many Christians use to defend the divine inspiration of the bible, I see the contradiction and as such can not accept that as a valid explanation. But i am wondering why the Bible is considered anything more than the writings of wise, respected men?
     
  4. LinuxUser

    LinuxUser New Member

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    Because God's Word testifies to it.

    All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

    2 Tim 3:16

    Even though some things maybe cultural that does not mean it is not God's Word. That very fact makes it authoritative. Here is an article that might help:

    Is the Bible truly God's Word?

    Hope this helps some :)
     
  5. LinuxUser

    LinuxUser New Member

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  6. Merlinus.Ambrosius

    Merlinus.Ambrosius Newbie

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    yes that is all well and good but all the the internal evidence is nul and void because it is the logical fallacy of the circular logic previously mentioned. and neither the fact that the bible has survived 2000 years despite persecution nor its historicity is in question but its divine inspiration, and i am not doubting the character of the authors at all but why should it be different than a book written by a billy Graham or any other respected christian leader of the day???
     
  7. LinuxUser

    LinuxUser New Member

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    All I can say is to those who believe in faith no evidence is needed and to those who don't no evidence will suffice. There comes a point when you have to stop wondering and take it by faith
     
  8. Merlinus.Ambrosius

    Merlinus.Ambrosius Newbie

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    I do have faith in God and trust him absolutely but i do not have faith in the bible
     
  9. Deaver

    Deaver A follower of Christ

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    When I read questions such as yours, I am convicted. I confess, I have used scripture to argue for my point of view. And we should not do that, the Bible is a whole document from God. I do not mean to be disrespectful with this acronym – Basic Instuctions Before Leaving Earth.

    Let me go to the point of your question. Isn’t it about, when people in the church talk about authority that they are very often talking about controlling people or situations. They want to make sure that everything is regulated properly, that the church does not go off the rails doctrinally or ethically, that correct ideas and practices are upheld and transmitted to the next generation. ‘Authority’ is the place where we go to find out the correct answers to key questions such as these. This notion, however, runs into all kinds of problems when we apply it to the Bible. Is that really what the Bible is for? Is it there to control the church? Is it there simply to look up the correct answers to questions that we, for some reason, already know?

    I think that if you read the Bible you will discover that the answer to these questions seems in fact to be ‘NO’.

    It is unfortunate that we have tended to let the word ‘authority’ be the fixed point and have adjusted ‘scripture’ to meet it, instead of the other way round. We must let scripture be itself, and that is a hard task. Scripture contains many things that I don’t know, and that you don’t know; many things we are waiting to discover.
     
  10. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran CF Ambassador

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    There's actually 3 different answers, corresponding to the 3 major approaches to Christianity:

    * Catholic: Scripture expresses the earliest form of the Tradition of the Church
    * Conservative Protestant: Scripture was inspired by God and is his Word
    * Liberal Protestant: Scripture is our primary source for the story of God's dealing with Israel, as interpreted by the Prophets, of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, and his teachings.

    In each of these it's authoritative, but in a different way.

    * It's one of two key sources for the faith
    * It's God's Word, and thus it contains answers to at least the most basic questions about God, our purpose in life, morals, and other matters of Christianity
    * It's our primary source for learning about God, how he has dealt with his people, and what those who speak for him have taught. As such, it provides the basis for us to understand his nature, our purpose in life, morals, and other matters of Christianity
     
  11. LinuxUser

    LinuxUser New Member

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    Than unfortunately you do not really have faith in God, because the Bible is His Word. It is the only thing we have that God has given us (besides His Creation). No one will be able to answer your question because no answer will be good enough.

    Through the Bible we can see how God created the Earth; The whole history of redemption which culminated in the coming, death, and Resurrection of Christ; The history of the early Church (Acts), the correction and how they were handled and extended history of the early of Church (the letters) and the persecution of the early Church and the message of hope during that trying time (Revelation). The Bible is God's love letter to humanity
     
  12. Merlinus.Ambrosius

    Merlinus.Ambrosius Newbie

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    so to put a more specific example to this issue. Something i have already mentioned, the fact that the bible does say specifically that women should not speak in church. should we hold to that or can we interpret it as a cultural issue that day that does not translate to today? Because either no women should speak in church or at least certain imperatives from the bible have changed with the culture and societies throughout history.
     
  13. LinuxUser

    LinuxUser New Member

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    Well of course that's a culture issue I am glad you specified we don't do that today, but it doesn't mean that it still is not God's word.
     
  14. LOCO

    LOCO Church Militant

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    If you don't have faith that the Bible was written by men who were 'divinely inspired', where do you get the Teachings to practice your faith from?

    'Catholics don't believe that scripture is infallible. They believe that it is inerrant. Infallible means that one does not teach error and the bible does not teach. It must be read and interpreted, by humans. The bible cannot say to you, 'wait a minute, you misunderstood me.' Only a teacher can do that. The teacher is and has been the Church, out of which came the scriptures.'
    (karl keating)

    Sounds like you are a having a crisis of faith. I will pray for you.:crossrc:
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011
  15. Standing Up

    Standing Up On and on

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    Good thing that events happened in real time then after their prediction. IOW, one measure of "true and reliable" is predictive ability. The bible said X will happen. X did happen. Therefore, the bible is authoritative or "true and reliable".

    We can toss to chance if 1 prediction comes true. But 100? Nope. Something is going on. What do you think?
     
  16. mark46

    mark46 Well-Known Member

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    This is old chesnut isn't it? Either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic or Lord. There are no other choices. Similarly, the bible is either the inspired Word of God, or it is a pack of lies. After all, the bible says outrageous things. Jesus died to restore man to a relationship with God. Jesus rose from the dead to give us everlasting life! Paul tells us in Scripture that this is the essence of Christianity. The apostles told that to the early Church who passed on the story to us.

    The words of Scripture were often passed down for centuries, even in the time of Jesus. We have copies that differ by a few letters, written/copied centuries apart.

    The apostles and many, many others died for their faith. All they needed to say was that Jesus did not rise from the dead, that he was not God. Clearly, they believed and wrote down what they believed, what they saw, and what Jesus said. There is other documentation for much of Scripture. That the gospels are so different in some detail, and exactly the same in others points to the fact that these events did indeed happen.

    So, in the end, we are left with all the normal question of faith. Does God exist? Did he create the Universe? Was Jesus resurrected? The bible says yes, and it also says that it is the inspired Word of God. We must choose whether to believe.

    ============================
    Yes, the bible is inerrant in all that it teaches with regard to salvation and practice (or faith and morals as some would say). The bible is the inspired Word of God. However, we not be literalists or biblicists and try to apply each verse out of context. There is ONE story, the revelation of Jesus Christ. The whole bible is important as God reveals Himself more and more, culminating in Jesus. Personally, it doesn't matter whether 70 or 72 were sent out, or how many Egyptians died in the Reed Sea. Or exactly how Sodom was destroyed.

     
  17. Apologetic_Warrior

    Apologetic_Warrior Saved by Grace through Faith

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    "Christianity is often called a book-religion. It would be more exact to say that it is a religion which has a book. Its foundations are laid in apostles and prophets, upon which its courses are built up in the sanctified lives of men; but Christ Jesus alone is its chief cornerstone. He is its only basis; he, its only head; and he alone has authority in his Church. But he has chosen to found his Church not directly by his own hands, speaking the word of God, say for instance, in thunder-tones from heaven; but through the instrumentality of a body of apostles, chosen and trained by himself, endowed with gifts and graces from the Holy Ghost, and sent forth into the world as his authoritative agents for proclaiming a gospel which he placed within their lips and which is none the less his authoritative word, that it is through them that he speaks it. It is because the apostles were Christ's representatives, that what they did and said and wrote as such, comes to us with divine authority. The authority of the Scriptures thus rests on the simple fact that God's authoritative agents in founding the Church gave them as authoritative to the Church which they founded. All the authority of the apostles stands behind the Scriptures, and all the authority of Christ behind the apostles. The Scriptures are simply the law-code which the law-givers of the Church gave it.

    If, then, the apostles were appointed by Christ to act for him and in his name and authority in founding the Church--and this no one can doubt; and if the apostles gave the Scriptures to the Church in prosecution of this commission--and this admits of as little doubt; the whole question of the authority of the Scriptures is determined. It will be observed that their authority does not rest exactly on apostolic authorship. The point is not that the apostles wrote these books (though most of the New Testament books were written by apostles), but that they imposed them on the Church as authoritative expositions of its divinely appointed faith and practice. Still less does the authority of the Scriptures rest on the authority of the Church. The Church may bear witness to what she received from the apostles as law, but this is not giving authority to that law but humbly recognizing the authority which rightfully belongs to it whether the Church recognizes it or not. The puzzle which some people fall into here is something like mistaking the relative "authority" of the guide-post and the road; the guide-post may point us to the right road but it does not give its rightness to the road. It has not "determined" the road--it is the road that has "determined" the guide-post; and unless the road goes of itself to its destination the guide-post has no power to determine its direction. So the Church does not "determine" the Scriptures, but the Scriptures the Church. Nor does it avail to say in opposition that the Church existed before the Scriptures and therefore cannot depend on them. The point is, whether the Scriptures are a product of the Church, or rather of the authority which founded the Church. The Church certainly did not exist before the authority which Christ gave the apostles to found it, in virtue of which they have imposed the Scriptures on it as law.

    Apostolicity thus determines the authority of Scripture; and any book or body of books which were given to the Church by the apostles as law must always remain of divine authority in the Church. That the apostles thus gave the Church the whole Old Testament, which they had themselves received from their fathers as God's word written, admits of no doubt, and is not doubted. That they gradually added to this body of old law an additional body of new law is equally patent. In part this is determined directly by their own extant testimony. Thus Peter places Paul's Epistles beside the Scriptures of the Old Testament as equally with them law to Christians (2 Peter iii. 16); and thus Paul places Luke's Gospel alongside of Deuteronomy ( 1 Tim. v. 18). Thus, too, all write with authority (1 Cor. xiv. 37; 2 Cor. x. 8; 2 Thes. ii. 15; iii. 6-14)--with an authority which is above that of angels (Gal. i. 7, 8), and the immediate recognition of which is the test of the possession of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. xiv. 37; 2 Thess. iii. 6-14). In part it is left to be determined indirectly from the testimony of the early Church; it being no far cry from the undoubting universal acceptance of a book as authoritative by the Church of the apostolic age, to the apostolic gift of it as authoritative to that Church. But by one way or another it is easily shown that all the books which now constitute our Bible, and which Christians, from that day to this, have loyally treated as their divinely prescribed book of law, no more and no fewer, were thus imposed on the Church as its divinely authoritative rule of faith and practice.

    Now it goes, of course, without saying, that the apostles were not given this supreme authority as legislators to the Church without preparation for their high functions, without previous instruction in the mind of Christ, without safeguards thrown about them in the prosecution of their task, without the accompanying guidance of the Holy Spirit. And nothing is more noticeable in the writings which they have given the Church than the claim which they pervasively make that in giving them they are acting only as the agents of Christ, and that those who wrote them wrote in the Spirit of Christ. What Paul writes he represents to be "the commandments of the Lord" ( 1 Cor. xiv. 37), which he therefore transmits in the name of the Lord (2 Thess. iii. 6); and the gospel that Peter preached was proclaimed in the Holy Ghost (1 Peter i. 12). Every Scripture of the Old Testament is inspired by God (2 Tim. iii. 16), and the New Testament is equally Scripture with the Old (1 Tim. v. 18); all prophecy of Scripture came from men who spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost ( 2 Peter i. 20) and Paul's Epistles differ from these older writings only in being "other"; that is, newer Scriptures of like kind (2 Peter iii. 16). When we consider the promises of supernatural guidance which Christ made to his apostles (Matt. x. 19, 20; Mark xiii. 11; Luke xxi. 14; John xiv and xvi), in connection with their claim to speak with divine authority even when writing (1 Cor. xiv. 37; 2 Thess. iii. 6), and their conjunction of their writings with the Old Testament Scriptures as equally divine with them, we cannot fail to perceive that the apostles claim to be attended in their work of giving law to God's Church by prevailing superintending grace from the Holy Spirit. This is what is called inspiration. It does not set aside the human authorship of the books. But it puts behind the human also a divine authorship. It ascribes to the authors such an attending influence of the Spirit in the process of writing, that the words they set down become also the words of God; and the resultant writing is made not merely the expression of Paul's or John's or Peter's will for the churches, but the expression of God's will. In receiving these books from the apostles as law, therefore, the Church has always received them not only as books given by God's agents, but as books so given by God through those agents that every word of them is God's word.

    Let it be observed that the proof of the authority of the Scriptures does not rest on a previous proof of their inspiration. Even an uninspired law is law. But when inspiration has once been shown to be fact, it comes mightily to the reinforcement of their authority. God speaks to us now, in Scripture, not only mediately through his representatives, but directly through the Scriptures themselves as his inspired word. The Scriptures thus become the crystalization of God's authoritative will. We will not say that Christianity might not have been founded and propagated and preserved without inspired writings or even without any written embodiment of the authoritative apostolic teaching. Wherever Christ is known through whatever means, there is Christianity, and men may hear and believe and be saved. But God has caused his grace to abound to us in that he not only published redemption through Christ in the world, but gave this preachment authoritative expression through the apostles, and fixed it with infallible trustworthiness in his inspired word. Thus in every age God speaks directly to every Christian heart, and gives us abounding safety to our feet and divine security to our souls. And thus, instead of a mere record of a revelation given in the past, we have the ever-living word of God; instead of a mere tradition however guarded, we have what we have all learned to call in a unique sense "the Scriptures." - B.B. Warfield The Authority & Inspiration of the Scriptures
     
  18. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran CF Ambassador

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    I think this is an overliteral reading of 1 Cor 14:34. If tell a child who is disrupting people "children shouldn't talk in church", does anyone think this prohibits calling on one to read Scripture or do something else in worship? Of course not. 1 Cor 14:34 was pretty clearly addressing a specific problem. 14:35 seems to imply that they're asking questions during the service. The fact that earlier in 1 Cor Paul talks about what women should put on their head when prophecying indicates that he didn't mean this as a general prohibition.

    I do agree that Paul was writing to churches from a specific background, and there are times when there are enough differences in our cultures that we would make a different judgement, inspired by the same Gospel that Paul was. I just don't think this is one of them. Paul didn't see men and women as interchangeable. In fact 14:34 shows this, in saying that women (or wives?) should be subordinate. But I believe conservatives exaggerate the differences.

    The Bible certainly is the writing of wise, respected men. But those wise respected men are writing about things such as laws that God gave and things that the Son of God taught. And some of the respected men (the prophets) claim that what they are writing came directly from God.

    You're coming from what I'd call a liberal point of view. But if you think what is written in Scripture is generally reliable (I'm not saying inerrant, just in normal human terms reasonably accurate), then the Bible is something kind of unusual: it's the only witness we have from even near the time of the events of extraordinary things God did with Israel, and interpretations of those events by men who say God gave them the words. And it is the only nearly contemporary accounts of the life and teachings of someone who those respected men think is God's own presence in our midst.

    We're only going to know about God if he tells us. To me Scripture is the primary account of the key public ways in which God has chosen to reveal himself to us. Of course God continues to act in history, and the Holy Spirit still speaks. But there was only one chosen people, and only one Christ. God's revelation through them is primary.

    There are some books that I think are as you describe: writings of wise people. The letters are an example. So probably is Proverbs. Paul disclaims being inspired about all he says. If all we had were a collection of letters like Paul's, there would be some reason for your suggestion. Paul does have some advantages over generic letters from wise Christians, in that he's the closest chronologically to Jesus of any source we have. It appears that he was taught Jesus' message directly by at least Peter. Understanding how the Gospel was lived in the first generation after Jesus is certainly important. But the prophets do claim more direct inspiration, and I think the history of Israel as interpreted by the prophets, and Jesus' life and teachings, have a different status than just writings of wise people.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  19. ivebeenshown

    ivebeenshown Expert invisible poster and thread killer

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    :amen:
     
  20. Walter Kovacs

    Walter Kovacs Justice is coming, no matter what we do.

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    Circular reasoning is not necessarily bad reasoning.
     
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