Summary: A brief and concise apologetic and summation of Bible development and trustworthyness
Why the Bible is Trustworthy
(Pastor Eric J. Hanson)
The Old Testament
-Not under attack in this current wave of attacks; but constantly attacked across the last 160 years. Particularly Genesis and Daniel are hated and attacked.
-Jesus and the New Testament writers cited the O. T. as authoritative scripture many times.
-The godly Jews under Ezra carefully compiled and preserved the 39 Old Testament books. There were good tests for authenticity, which I will not go into here.
-They (the “Tana-im”) also carefully chronicled the writings which occurred after the prophet Malachi. They preserved Jewish history reverently, but fell prey, over time, to increasing legalism through the adding of nearly 50,000 extra-scriptural regulations over a two hundred year period, as found in the “Mishna”.
The New Testament
-By the year 175, 20 of the NT books were fully accepted as scripture due to consensus and widespread use and circulation dating back to the Apostle John’s lifetime. This, very importantly, includes the four Gospels, and no other gospels.
-The major test of canonicity was this: Was this book written by one of the true apostles or by someone closely associated with them (such as Mark)? If not, it doesn’t pass muster.
-Another second test was this: Does this book have the ability to edify people and change lives when studied privately or read publicly?
-A third test was this: Is this book regarded as authoritative throughout the Church from city to city?
-The seven books which came to be universally accepted by the 300s as also belonging in the New Testament are these: James, II Peter, II and III John, Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation. Athanasius of Alexandria, writing in 367, listed all 27 N.T. books as being scripture. The Church council at Chalcedon in 451 re-affirmed that these 27 books and letters were the NT scripture, and had been considered to be the only NT scriptures for a long time by then.
Translations in English
-In the 1380s, John Wycliffe translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English. The Pope was so infuriated by this, that 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, the Pope of that time ordered his bones dug up, crushed into little pieces, and scattered in a nearby river.
-John Hus continued to distribute hand copied editions of Wycliffe’s Bible. He was burned at the stake in 1415 by the Roman Catholic authorities for the crime of placing God’s word into the hands of the people. His last words were these: “In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.”
-In 1496 John Colet, a professor at Oxford, translated the New Testament from the Greek, not from the Latin Vulgate, into English. The hunger to hear it was so great that within six months, 20,000 people would pack St. Paul’s Cathedral on Sundays to hear it read. There would typically be another 20,000 outside listening, unable to squeeze into the great building. Because Colet, son of the mayor of London, had powerful friends in high places, he managed to avoid being burned to death.
-In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 theses of contention to the door of the church in Wittenberg Germany. His calls for reform could not be repressed. The German royalty and armies rallied to him and protected him from the armies of the Pope. John Hus’ dying prophecy had come true! By the way, in 1517, seven sets of parents in England were burned to death for the “crime” of teaching the Lord’s Prayer to their children in English, rather than Latin.
-In 1525, William Tyndale went to Germany from England, to see Martin Luther for the purpose of translating the whole NT into English and then printing it using Guttenberg’s printing press. The next year this became reality. Thousand of copies were smuggled into England. In 1536, agents of King Henry the VIII, found Tyndale. He was imprisoned for 500 days, then strangled to death and his body was burned. His last words before strangulation were “Oh Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!”
--Just three years later, King Henry authorized and funded the printing of the English “Great Bible”. God used this wicked man’s pride to bring this about. It seems that King Henry VIII was hard to please, and he liked to divorce one wife and marry another in her place. He wrote to the Pope to get an annulment and the Pope refused. The wrath of the prideful Henry was kindled and he declared Roman Catholicism to be illegal in England, declaring himself to be the head of the new Church of England. Then in 1539, he ordered the printing of a “Great Bible” in the English language. This 14 inch sized Bible was then chained to the pulpit of every church in England. The King also provided a reader for every church, so that even the illiterate could hear the Bible in English. Now Henry could thumb his nose at the Pope twice, (once on divorce, once on the English Bible) with the English navy to back him up in case the Pope wanted to rumble.