Episode 5: Churches and the Bible. Why?

In this episode we talk about the Bible and common myths. Is it full of errors? Yes. What!? Watch and find out!

 

 

Resources Referenced in the Video:

Dan Wallace vs Bart Ehrman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVlapUsHxhg

James White vs Muslim on Reliability of the New Testament vs the Qur’an: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MThl8qxAc2k

Dan Wallace Shorter video on New Testament Reliability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lEmch2OAhs

Be sure to check out the documentary “The God Who Speaks”. It’s free if you have an Amazon Prime membership!

And check out our website: https://theologybrewers.com. I (Samuel) have done a couple lectures on this topic as well.

He Who Does the Work

     “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
     To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
     I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  ~1 Corinthians 1:1-9

By who’s will is Paul called?

God’s

To who’s church does Paul write?

God’s.

Who sanctifies them (and makes them His church)?

God

Who’s catholic church (to which they now belong)?

God’s

Who gave them grace?

God

Who enriched them?

God

Who will sustain them?

God.

Who makes them guiltless?

God

Who called them?

God

Why?

Because He is faithful.

There is no hint from Paul that the work of God; calling, sanctifying, enriching, sustaining, pardoning, calling; will not be accomplished. There is no condition placed upon it. His work is accomplished because He is faithful.

Dangerous Christianity and Galatians

Recently, Tim Keller was interviewed by the NY Times and in that interview Keller espoused the importance of believing the basic orthodox beliefs of Christianity, namely; the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus.

John Stone Street wrote an excellent article that talks about the backlash that Kellers has received from other “Christian” groups who are labeling Keller’s brand of Christianity- i.e. the orthodox, confessional brand- as dangerous.

As much as I didn’t like C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (I know, #unpopularopinion) John Stonestreet points out that even Lewis declared the need to believe in the miracles of Jesus.

The passage in Galatians I am currently focsuing on tells us exactly how important Paul thought the essential doctrines of Christianity to be:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9

Paul is astonished by how quick these believers have started to believe false doctrines and listen to “other” gospels. Paul does not mince words in his condemnation of those who forsake orthodox Christian truth: “let him be accursed”.

In short, if you forsake the essential truths, and the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ definitely fall under this category (see my post here), there is no salvation.

“I thought all I needed was the ABC’s: Accept, Believe, Confess”.

Sure, but what are you accepting, believing, and confessing? If you do not believe the Bible to be entirely true, you call God a liar. If you do not believe the Jesus was who He said he was (virgin born and resurrected) then you do not believe in the actual Jesus-this means you are not a Christian by the Bible’s own definition.

Admittedly, the title “Christian” is probably the most hijacked title of all time. Anyone can call themselves a Christian and does not have to justify why because…who cares about objectivity and history.

Why is this acceptable? Frankly, I have no idea. In society one cannot be considered a US citizen without the proper paper work. Someone cannot just come into America and declare themselves a citizen and magically receive all the benefits thereof. There are things they have to agree and submit to before they can gain citizenship. This is also true of Christianity. If you do not preach the orthodox truths of Christianity, yet have the gall to identify as a Chrstian-i.e. a “Christ follower” then Paul says:

“Let him be accursed”

Well, that’s not very ecumenist of you Paul.

Let me tell you; if you thought Paul was dangerous as a Pharisee, you should get to know him as a Christian.

Because the Church said so…

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Here is a statement that Catholics and Protestants can both eagerly affirm (though most Protestants don’t know it yet):

“We can trust that the books we have in the Bible are the correct ones because the church has recognized them to be such.”

All the Catholics just said “Amen” and many Protestants veins are beginning to swell.

There are multiple ways to to approach understanding why Christians have acknowledged certain books to be included in the Bible and have rejected others. We call certain books canonical and others-we call them many things, let’s just go with “not scripture” for now.

The canonized books are the ones we believe are the books written by chosen individuals inspired by the Holy Spirit and are “God-breathed”.

As Christians, we believe that the Bible is the word of God. We also believe that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit lives and works in His church. These things are related. The fact that the church for centuries has accepted these books as canonical is reason for confidence that we indeed have the Word of God.

This conversation around canonicity is normally talked about from the historical perspective. The topic of which lists of books should be included, which church councils debated the topic and how they differed, and how many hundreds of years it was after the time of the Apostles that we finally had a “completed” Bible are all legitimate approaches, but I want to emphasize a particular approach, and that is the acceptance of the books by the church.

The Catholic apologists loves to tell the Protestant that they often bite the hand that fed them. “You reject the authority of the Roman Catholic Church yet she is the one who gave you your Bible that you use to try to refute her doctrines !”

Many struggle with this charge because it is true that it was in large part the work of church councils lead to the compiling of the books we consider to be Scripture-but that is not what the Catholic claim is actually saying.

What underlies this statement is a claim of ultimate authority. To the Catholic, the Church determined what books where biblical and which ones were not. This leads to the drastic difference between how the Prostestant can agree with opening assertion and the Catholic. The Catholic claim is elevating the Church to a level equal-to, and functionally superior-to, the Scriptures.

This is a grave error because the Catholic Church has misunderstood her role in the development of the canonized Bible. The Church was not the determiner, she was the receiver. The books of the Bible are canonical because they are Scripture, not because the Church declared them to be so.

To deny the work of the church in the work of bringing about the Bible as we now have it would be ridiculous however, it must be recognized that the church was brought only to realize what was already cannon, she did not create it. Michale Kruger eloquently stated it like this: “The church reflects and responds to the Word of God in Her midst”.

In other words, God had His cannon and He used the church to recognize which writings they were. The Church is not the thermostat determining the temperature, she is the thermometer recognizing what is already Scripture by the Holy Spirit. It is not because the Church said so-it is because God revealed so.

And why would the fact that the church recognizing which books are Scripture gives us confidence that it is, be a hard thing for Protestant to affirm? Does God work in the hearts of individuals via the Holy Spirit to help them recognize and apply His word? Why would He then not do so corporately in His church? The church is not infallible but she is most certainly used by God to accomplish His purpose here on earth; and how else, or through whom else, would you have expected God to deliver His word?

Now, I would be negligent if I did not at least mention the differences in the Protestant and Catholic Bibles. I will address this in a later post more in depth, but suffice for now to say that the additional books in the Catholic Bible are symptomatic of their view on authority. These books are not scripture and as stated before, even if the whole church accepted them to be such (which she does not) the church is not infallible.

So to summarize, we can confidently accept the books we have in our Bibles are the complete and actual Word of God because His bride, the church, has recognized-not determined-them to be  such. This is because the Holy Spirit lives within and works within His people.

Open your Bible and hear what He has to say.