Can We Trust The Bible?

When I was little I remember my grandmother teaching my cousins and me a game called “Telephone.” Someone comes up with a sentence and whispers it into the ear of the person next to them. This continues being passed through several silly, giggling child-interpreters until it reaches the original person. Everyone gets a huge laugh because what started as “The gray goose flies at night,” turns into “My granny has an overbite.”

Tweet: People struggle with the Bible because they believe it was passed down like a game of Telephone. The truth is far more stunning!

“The Bible can’t be trusted. It was copied by hand so many times that it must be full of mistakes. After thousands of years of errors we simply can’t trust what’s there!” The problem with this argument is the assumption that the Bible was copied much like you or I would scribble notes during a lecture, which is simply untrue.

Ancient scribes dedicated their lives to copying the Bible by hand, letter for letter, word for word, line for line. And this is very important to understand. Men who dedicated themselves to this artform had the scriptures memorized, as well as having a multitude of very early copies from which to work. Over 24,000 of these ancient copies remain from the New Testament alone, far more than any other writing of its age!

The scribes worked meticulously copying each and every detail of the text. It was then checked for accuracy by line. The chief scribes (who had the text memorized) knew exactly how many letters and words should be in each line of text for a particular book. If the copy in question didn’t match up, it was not corrected…it was destroyed. They held the text in such high esteem that they would rather destroy an expensive parchment and throw away the work rather than have one mistake come through their work.

That being said, not every scribe worked so perfectly. We do have “textual variants” within the scriptures. Most of these are sequence variations. In the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, Dr. Bruce Metzger describes it this way. “…it makes a whale of a difference in English if you say ‘Dog bites man’ or ‘Man bites dog’ – sequence matters in English. But in Greek it doesn’t.” Greek is an inflected language, and no matter what order you place the words, the meaning still comes across the same. The meaning isn’t changed in the slightest, but this counts as a textual variant. And if 10 copies of this same variant exist, then scholars count that as 10 textual variants even though they are the same variant (confusing, I know.)

Can the Bible be trusted? Strobel quotes scholars Norman Geisler and William Nix’s conclusion: “The New Testament, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book-a form that is 99.5 percent pure.”

God has preserved His word for us in a fully trustworthy form. All we have to do now is read it!

Want to know more about the Bible? Try these other posts:
The Problem with The Bible
Where Do I Start? – Part 1
Where Do I Start? – Part 2

Advertisements

The Shocking Truth About Floaters

Floaters frustrate me.

Do you know what I mean by “floaters?”

Floaters are the people who float from church to church so frequently that they never settle in one place long enough to really be a part of a church family.

Floaters frustrate me.

I knew a family of floaters one time. The head floater of this family told me that his family simply couldn’t find a church family that suited them. Oh they’d find churches where they liked the music fine, but didn’t much like the sermons. They’d find a place where they liked the sermons, but didn’t much like the music. And the members of these churches  seemed friendly enough, but the floater family never could seem to make friends (probably because they wouldn’t stay put long enough to really get to know anyone.)

Floaters frustrate me.

But they are also a valuable source of insight and information for a church.

You see, floaters have had far more first experiences with churches than you or I probably ever will. They are hyper aware of their surroundings each and every time they step into a worship service. Because of this, they will see things and experience things you miss due to familiarity.

What do I mean? When we become familiar with our building, our worship style, our Bible class style, the layout of our building and parking lot, we overlook certain things that might be off-putting to visitors simply because they are familiar.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. I visited a church a few years ago that had a serious odor as soon as you walked in the front door. It was bad. It smelled like an open sewer the moment you cracked the front door. Turns out that there were bathrooms just inside the front doors that were causing the problem (huge problem), but nobody there seemed to notice.

Another example was a church that had a lighting problem. Over the years a large number of bulbs and fixtures stopped working, and nobody bothered to fix the problem. It was so bad that I witnessed people getting out flashlights in order to read their Bible. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

We become blind to the way other people view us, our worship, and our facilities. It’s a good idea every once in a while to ask visitors, or frequent floaters how things could be improved.

If nothing else, ask yourself some of these questions as if you were visiting your church for the very first time:

  • When I pull in the parking lot, can the entrances clearly be identified, or am I going to have to drive around the building a few times in hopes of finding an entrance?
  • Does the exterior of the building look like this church cares about its facilities, or is the landscaping and appearance an absolute mess?
  • If I am stepping into this building for the first time, do I have any idea where I’m going? Are there signs and people here to help me find my way?
  • Will anyone explain to me what I’m going to experience during my time here? How long is the service? What are we going to do? Why are we going to do these things? How am I supposed to find this information out?
  • If I visit the church website (yes, you absolutely need one) will I be able to answer all of the previously mentioned questionsas well as get a sense that this is a loving, vibrant, and active congregation that cares deeply about people? All people?

And quite possibly the biggest question of them all:

  • If I were to attend this church as a visitor, would I feel that my presence was greatly appreciated, that people cared about me enough to get to know me, and that my time here was the highlight of my week?

If you are unsure about that last question, then I would suggest your congregation do some serious rethinking of how you do things, because you just might be the reason those floaters keep floating by.

And floaters frustrate me.