Summary: There are a lot of myths and doubt floating around about the New Testament. The reality is it is reliable, true and life giving!
Is The Bible Reliable? May 21, 2006
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete.
The movie, “The Da Vinci Code” opened in theatres this weekend. How many of you have seen it or read the book? How many have read an article or a book or watched a show “debunking” The Da Vinci Code? There are many Christians who are upset about some of the strange ideas that Dan Brown puts forward as factual history to fit into his page turning book. Dan Brown’s book is a work of fiction, and even the things that look like fact are fiction. Even before the prologue of the book he has this statement that says “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” I actually think that the statement is a bit of a joke that Dan Brown is sharing with the readers since it is not just historic Christianity that he gets wrong, but art history, architecture and geography. He is not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story. To get your ideas of history and Christianity from Dan Brown’s book is like getting your ideas of space travel from watching the Jetsons.
The two ideas that Dan Brown puts forward in his book that upset Christians the most is that there was a conspiracy to keep certain writings out of Scripture, and that there is also a conspiracy to hide the marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and to hide the knowledge of their offspring and thus also squash the worship of the sacred feminine. I think that dealing with the first issue will counter the second. So, today I’d like to deal with the question “Is Scripture Reliable?”
I don’t think that there are too many people that, upon investigation, will adopt Dan Brown’s conspiracy theories. The difficulty is that not many people will investigate them. And although they may have heard that the theories are suspect, the seeds of doubt get planted, and people start to say things like, “Oh, how can we really know that the Bible is true?” “What about all the stuff they changed?” “How can we know who Jesus really was?” They might not even try to find the answers top the questions, because it is good enough to have the doubt so that you can continue your life without God.
I think that it is good to have the beginning of some answers so that we can help people get over barriers to faith, and so that our own faith can be built on solid ground.
If you have a question at any time, just ask. I’ll try to answer it to the best of my abilities, or I’ll let you know where the answer might be found.
What is the New Testament?
The New Testament is a collection of 27 writings that we usually call “books.” There are 9 authors. The first 4 books are accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, teaching, suffering, death and resurrection. They center on the three or so years of Jesus ministry and give a good deal of ink to Jesus’ last week. Acts is an account of the first years of the Christian church. After that come letters to churches and individuals. They deal with specific issues of theology and practice in the churches that they were written to. The last book is a genre called “Apocalyptic:” it is a prophetic description of the way things are (or were) and what will come.
The New Testament was written in common Greek, The Gospel of Matthew may have been originally written in Aramaic, and translated into the common language of Greek.
Christians believe that the New Testament and the Old Testament are the inspired word of God through the hands of people.
How where the writings distributed?
You may remember that Christianity started in Jerusalem, and it grew from there to have Christians throughout the known world within the first generation.
The scriptures that were first used was what we call the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures. So when Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 he is talking about the Old Testament! We also apply this verse to the NT.