A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 7

The Bible is Wholly True

In this lesson, you will learn about the characteristics of God. The lesson begins with an introduction explaining the importance of studying the attributes of God and the concept of theology proper. The lesson then covers four of the characteristics of God: the immutability, infinity, spirituality, and eternality of God. For each characteristic, the lesson provides a definition and explanation, biblical support, and implications and applications.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 7
Watching Now
The Bible is Wholly True

I. Characteristics of Scripture

A. Inspiration: Breathed by God

B. Inerrancy

II. Truthfulness in Everyday Language

A. Speaking in everyday versus technical language

B. Accuracy of Biblical accounts

III. Truth in Facts, Commands, and Promises

A. Definition of marriage in Matthew 19

B. Truthfulness of commands

C. Archeology and the Bible

IV. Textual Criticism

A. Reliability of New Testament Texts

B. Reliability of Old Testament Texts

V. Translation Challenges

A. Importance of Multiple Translations

B. Translation from Different Traditions

C. Issues with Poetry Translation

VI. Issues with Biblical Inerrancy

A. The Walls of Jericho

B. Resolving the Contradictions

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
The Bible is Wholly True
Lesson Transcript

Well, we want to continue talking about scripture and the characteristics of scripture. We talked about inspiration breathed by God so that these words are really God speaking. But another question that comes up is it's summed up in the technical term inerrancy. Can I say for the record, I despise the term inerrancy. But if I deny inerrancy, it means I don't believe the Bible. And I can't change technical terms, but I'd like to because inerrancy, errancy means errant and inerrant means not errant. So you've got two negatives. You ain't got no bananas, okay? You've got bananas or not, come on, not errant. I mean, it's what in the world, but that's the term that's used. So what does it mean? Well, basically we are going to say the Bible is inerrant. What I mean is the Holy Bible is wholly true. W-H-O-L-L-Y. Holy Bible is wholly, W-H-O-L-L-Y true.

Which it means it's true. But again, what does that mean? And so when I say that the Holy Bible is wholly true, again, this is in your notes, everything it teaches is to be received a truth from God. It speaks accurately in ordinary language. That's what I'm saying when I make this particular affirmation, when I say the Holy Bible is wholly true, everything it teaches, everything it actually affirms is to receive the truth from God. And that's whether it's fact or command or promise. So I'm saying here, I'm not just talking about factual truth. I'm talking about whether it's a fact or a command or a promise. It's to be received as truth from God, whether it's just a statement of fact or whether it's a moral statement or whether it's a promise statement. Those are all elements where there's truth because a promise, we don't talk about a promise being true so much in English, but it really is.

It means, can I depend on it? I said I would be here at noon today. Is that true? Does it mean that I'm going to show up at noon, and see if you know me as a truthful person. I say I'll be here at noon. I'll be here within oh two or three hours of noon. Then that's the other question is, okay, how accurate do we mean? Because does it mean noon means plus or minus one second, plus or minus 10 seconds, plus or minus, and so on. So what we're saying here, and this is a little bit vague, we say it speaks accurately in ordinary language. Well, what does that mean? And again, we're back to these critical questions of what do these things mean. And what we're saying here, fundamentally, what we're saying is that the Bible is normally speaking in everyday language rather than technical or scientific language.

Well, I just think of some examples. Jesus was telling a parable. He said, the mustard is the smallest of seeds. Well, now if you're a botanist, you know that's actually not true. There are other seeds, orchid seeds for example, are smaller than mustard seeds. Does that mean that Jesus made an error in the Bible and an error when he recorded it, when he said the mustard is the smallest of all seeds? And the answer is no, because he's speaking to people in the Middle Eastern garden economy in the first century. He's not making a statement of all everywhere. So when he says the mustard is smallest, ordinary seeds, if you're speaking an ordinary language in a Middle Eastern garden economy, that's true. If you mean a botanist statement for all the planets and all the planet in all ages, then it's not true. In what is it we're speaking an ordinary language.

Another insignificant but typical example is in Second Chronicles chapter four, God is telling him how to make the molten sea. A molten sea is the old way to see a labor, a bold that they're going to wash in before they do temple sacrifices. And God says, make this thing 10 cubits across and 30 cubits around. Now, as a math teacher for a long time in a math major in college and lifelong interest in science, I know the value of pi, circumference divided by diameter is 3.14159, so on and so on, endless chain. So the question is when I look at the Bible, it says 30 and 10. So God says pi is 3.00000. Godless scientists say 3.14159. Who are you going to believe God or godless scientists? I mean, I've heard people take it that way.

But see what's happening is they're taking 10 is 10.000. And 30 is 30.000. But in ordinary language, in fact, as me teaching math, a significant digits, 10 would be 10 plus or minus 0.5. 30 would be 30 plus or minus 0.5. And the godless scientists are well within that range. But see that's the thing is when you say the Bible is truthful, to what degree are we talking about? An example, it's much more significant, frankly, Jesus in Matthew chapter 24 is talking about the destruction of the temple, I think. We'll talk about that later in the course. And when he talks about the destruction of the temple in Matthew 24, he says that this will happen, the destruction in temple, before... The gospel will go to the entire world before the destruction of temple 70 AD. So in 33 AD, he says the gospel will go to the whole world before, as it turns out, 70 AD. And the question is, did that happen?

Well, if you think of the whole world as the planet and Mayan civilizations in Central America, no. But see, if you take that as ordinary language spoken in the Mount of Olive looking at the temple, the whole world means the Roman Empire. In fact, Paul says in Colossians a couple of times about the whole world, and he's saying it's already happened by the time he writes Colossians, which is in the sixties. So the meaning of terms and technical side of terms is really important when we think of truthfulness because we can read the Bible in such a way that we literalize it and try to make things in the technical language and misinterpret things really badly. So I'm saying when I say the Bible is wholly true, it speaks accurately in ordinary languages. So when you look at, oh, well, one of my favorite examples, Sea of Galilee, Jesus shows up after the resurrection.

The guys are out fishing because they got nothing else to do while they're waiting for Jesus to show up. And Jesus shows up and it's, wow, and Jesus fixes them breakfast at the shore and all that kind of stuff. And it puts a little detail in there about this huge catch of fish. It says they caught 153 fish. Now, I'm convinced if we had Bob and Ted's most excellent time machine went back and counted, we'd find exactly 153 fish. Is that significant? No. But it's saying, man, there were so many fish. They recorded an exact number just to say there were a bunch of them. They could have said there was a bunch of them. It says 153 in that context. I think they actually counted them, and that's what actually happened. So the context tells you how precisely to take things. Jesus's sermon that we call the Sermon on the Mount, it doesn't take you very long to read that.

I'm pretty convinced that it took longer than that for Jesus to preach. I'm confident that Peter's Pentecost sermon is longer than about 120 seconds they would take to read that sermon at a slow pace. These are accurate summaries we would say. Then there's a number of things that come up where that truthfulness comes up. I mean, I'm just talking about some specifics. If you look at Mark, chapter nine, it says there, the disciples couldn't cast the demon out of the boy. And they ask him later, how come we couldn't do it? And he says, because you have so little because of lack of prayer. This kind comes only by prayer, he says. But if you read this parallel account in Matthew 17, it says, because you have little faith. So is that a contradiction? And see, I think what's happening is the guys are telling the story.

Mark and Matthew are telling the same story with a little different emphasis. Mark is making an emphasis on prayer the way he orders his gospel. Jesus and Matthew is making an emphasis on faith. But you can quickly see the connection between prayer and faith. If you're looking for a stenographic reporting of exactly, precisely the words that Jesus used, it's going to vary from that. If you're looking for storytellers, they're telling the story in ordinary storytelling ways, that variation will vary depending on the context you tell it in. I told the story of Sherry manipulating me to ask her to marry me, and she was good at it. I wasn't against the idea, but I had no idea doing that that Saturday night there. Anyway, I won't go into the story here, but she manipulated me. It's really true. And I'm glad for the result. To be clear, we could have postponed a way long time, but when I tell that story depend on who I'm telling it to, I may vary the story just a little bit, but if I get out of the bounds of accuracy of the story, then we're doing it.

So you've got to have it in ordinary language. But the point of this, it's truthful. And that's the fundamental thing, both in facts, commands, and promises, and that's the thing we have to look at. It's more than just factual accuracy. It's also the commands that come. So a point that's very significant these days when Jesus defines marriage in Matthew 19, he picks up the gospel and he quotes from Genesis one and two, and it goes all the way through another teachers. Marriage is a one man, one woman, husband and wife for life. That's the definition of marriage. Any departure from that is to depart from God's design. That's a big decision. That's a big, big thing today.

What I think is we've got to take the commands and take them as truthful. We can't mess with them within the limits of storytelling. That's a big deal. Why do we believe that? Well, a lot of that is because when we look at the facts of scripture, we find they test true. Wait a minute, Gary, doesn't archeology disprove the Bible? Actually, it's the opposite. When you look what the Bible actually says and compare it with what archeology and such actually say, what we find out is that it really is accurate. So A.N. Sherwin-White is a famous Roman historian who wrote a while back, talking about the Bible, he said, any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail must now appear absurd.

Why does he say that? He's not a Christian, he's a historian. But he's saying, come on guys, every time we can check and actually tell the Bible, it checks out true. Now, there are questions that come up to be sure, but it's usually about the silence of Bible or the silence of archeology. Well, that didn't prove it wrong, just that we haven't found things yet. I don't mean downplay the questions, but it's amazing how archeology is doing things. One of my favorite things, I get a kick out of it, is the Bible passes the criterion of embarrassment.

We're in the constant, constant political campaign. Pick your favorite candidate. What do they do when they're trying to run for office? They massage their image to make sure that you understand that they're the most magnificent human being that ever existed on planet earth or in whatever county you're in or whatever it is. How many times has the political candidate said, well, I was arrested for drunk driving two weeks ago and I had to spend the night in jail because I was so drunk. Well, actually, they let me out of jail, put me in the drunk tank instead. And man, that was kind of a gnarly experience, but really makes me qualified to be your county auditor. Do you ever find anything like that? No. When you read the Bible, what do you find? Peter, leader there of the church. What do you know about him?

Really? You did what? You denied Jesus and now you want to be leader of the church. Who are you kidding? Well see, it's the criterion of embarrassment that says you're trying to massage a story to think it was truthful. You would not have Peter denying Jesus. You'd have him facing up to a Roman soldier drawing out his knife and say, kill me because I'm not defying Jesus. Actually did that a little bit earlier in the garden. He did pull out a fisherman's knife and take on soldiers because he was passionate with Jesus. And for some reason between that point when he's ready to lay down his life for his Lord. And just a few hours later in the courtyard of the high priest, he says, I don't know him three times to servants like what is going on?

But nonetheless, he denied Jesus. Embarrassing. Why is it in there? Because that's the way it actually happened. And see, if you're telling a truthful story, you include the embarrassing details. If you're trying to massage a story for believability, you massage it a very different way. So for me, truthfulness of scripture is a really, really important thing. Now, a couple of things that come out, if you look at the definition, we say in the original writings because these are copied.

Are there copyist errors in scripture? And the answer is yes, there are without doubt. How many? There's a lot of them. A lot of them. But we have copies of the Bible that go back to, oh, within 100 years or less of when the Bible was actually written. We have copies of almost the entire New Testament that the original documents were in libraries at that time. So the original documents are already in a library and known location while they're making copies and you could compare them. In fact, they were invited to do that. We have copies that go back to within less than 100 years of when the originals were written. We have 20,000 manuscripts in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and other ancient languages. 20,000 handwritten documents and 6,000 Greek manuscripts. And again, almost complete copies that go back to the second century. Excellent copies that go back to the fourth century.

So textual critics who examine will come out and say that if you look in the original language of the New Testament, the Greek texts we have, whether they're details, but it's 99.5% certain, we have the same thing that was written by the authors. There's only like 40 lines, 400 words that are in doubt. And not one of those variations make any significant difference in the meaning of the text. So this, I mean, do we have the right words in the New Testament? The answer is we clearly do. Now the Old Testament's a whole different thing because they destroyed copies after they made them. And the earliest complete manuscript we have until very recently the Codex Leningradensis, which comes from about a thousand or 1100 AD made in Leningrad. And that was the oldest Hebrew manuscript we had until fairly recently. 1947, they found the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in there are copies of the Hebrew texts that go back to 200 BC.

And again, this is a very, very difficult thing. But basically what they found in the Scroll of Isaiah is they compared it to the Isaiah in the Leningrad, they're almost exactly the same. The differences are minor. Now there's much of the Old Testament we don't have old manuscripts for, but we have the confidence, yeah, this is correct. Now the Old Testament is a more complicated story in terms of the text, and there's a science of textual criticism of the Old Testament as well. I'm not downplaying the difficulties, but what we can say is, yeah, we have the right words, and we'll talk about canon here in a bit. I think we have the right books as well. So when I look at the English Bible today that I have, how about translations? I have in the room a Bible translator.

His name is, do you know his name? You guys out there in TV Land? Yeah, of course. Bill Mounce. Bill is my friend. He's been on two different translation committees formally. And he's got his own translation he declares is better than anything by any, no, I don't know what he does. But I know what goes on in translation committees and what we find, what I suggest to you is the contemporary translations we have are trustworthy, but every translation, how you translate from any language, another language is always an art as much as a science. So what I suggest to you is when you're looking at English translations and you want to have the accurate, trustworthy word of God, get four translations to work with. Get what we call a formal equivalence more word for word. At that point, I look at something like New American Standard or English Standard version ESV.

Get something that's a more dynamic equivalent New Living translations a good dynamic. It's more meaning for meaning. NIV leads a little bit on the dynamic side that's closer to the center. So get one that's more formal that you like. Get one that's more dynamic, word for word, meaning for meaning. Those are translation philosophies or reasons for both of those. And then get something that comes from a different tradition. So I suggest getting a Jewish translation of the Bible. There are several of those. One of the ones that I like is the Complete Jewish Bible. It's a Messianic translation. So it's done by Jesus followers, but it's specifically done from a Jewish perspective, a messianic Jewish perspective. Then also get one of the just regular Jewish translations of the Bible. You can get a whole translation of the Bible and done into English by the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh and others.

So get some in Jewish. And then get something from a Catholic perspective. Roman Catholic, again, just different theological tribe and tradition. So the New American Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible are two good ones. New American's a little more word for word, New Jerusalem, a little more meaning for meaning. So get a word for word, meaning for meaning, Jewish, Catholic. And if you can read another language even a little bit, get some things from a different language. So I learned Dutch fairly well, to do my dissertation. And I look at a Dutch translation of the Bible just to compare. And what I do is look across that, and almost always it says exactly the same thing, almost always, sometimes significantly different. And I'll give you a homework assignment to see one where there's a difference. And it's in translation. Malachi 216. And if you've been around a bit, especially as a pastor, you won't know what Malachi 216 is? So I've got a bunch of pastors in the room. Do you guys know what Malachi 216 says?

Pastor? No. He says no. Discipleship pastor, no. And these guys don't know the Bible, kick it out of the pastorate. What is it?


Yeah. And what does it say in the standard translation? See, a woman gave us the answer. Exactly. You're in the room. Yeah, in the most translations, King James is best known, but New American standards say the same thing. It says, I hate divorce. And for every woman who's been kicked out of a marriage and she hears, I hate divorce, that woman hears, I hate you because you're divorced. Now if you read it in context, that's not what it says. It's talking about a guy who kicks his wife out for a cute or younger thing. And it says, I hate that divorce. But if you read it in NIV or ESV, you'll find a very different thing.

And the hatred there is for the man who kicks his wife out. So little homework, go look at several translations of Malachi 216, and you see a translation difficulty because it's translating poetry. And poetry is notoriously hard to translate. But see what happens there if you read kind of the normal translations, you'll see, I hate divorce. And well example, Ruth Graham, Billy Graham's wife was famous for saying, hey, did you ever think about divorcing Billy because he's on the road all the time? And she famously said, "Never thought about divorcing him. Thought about killing him, but not divorcing him." But see, it's a joke and it's funny, but what's she's saying, divorce is worse than murder. And everybody's that's the product of unhappy divorce that goes deep in. They may not show it to you. But see, that's where the translation comes out. If you read it in context, it's talking about a particular kind of divorce.

If you read the contemporary translations, ESV, you'll get a different feeling altogether. It's the man who does violence to his wife that's hated. So that's why you read it in different translations because you can end up ironing out possible misinterpretations that come with a particular translation. One of the questions that I get asked by my students because they're like that is, "Gary, you're okay with inerrancy? You really like it?" I said, "No, I actually don't." "Well, how come?"

"Because there are problems with it." "There are problems in errancy? Oh, yeah. Well like what?" And actually I give them a history lesson. When I started teaching at Western in 1980 and teaching on inerrancy. And what's the problem with the doctor? And I say, well, it's actually Jericho. Jericho, they come up and they do the thing, and the walls come tumbling down.

Well, if you take the biblical chronology that happened, oh, 1440 BC, give or take a bit, and archeology done by the very best archeologists, Kathleen Kenyon, John Garstang, these guys in their expiration of Jericho, they discovered the walls of Jericho were destroyed in 1200 BC and not yet built again until 1600 BC. Sorry, I've got that backward. They were destroyed in 1600 and not rebuilt until 1200 BC. So 1440, there are no walls. And the walls come tumbling down. They didn't come tumbling down because there weren't any. That's a problem. 1600, 1200 for 400 years, Jericho has no walls, had been destroyed.

And this says the guys came across the river. And Joshua led the Battle of Jericho, and the walls come tumbling down, but there's no walls. What's the answer? I don't know. Well, archeology is wrong? They're the best. Is the Bible wrong? Not chronology, is pretty clear. You can kick it off a little bit, but you can't kick it off 200 years, not without messing up all kinds of other stuff. You still believe the Bible's an error? Yeah, I do. Well, what about the walls of Jericho? I don't know.

That's a problem. So this went on for 10 years. And I kept saying, I don't know. It's the biggest problem I know because it's a verifiable fact, and the Bible appears to be wrong. This isn't silence. I saw an article in the Oregonian, the newspaper here in Portland. And it reported a finding by an archeologist who, a narrow window of political nonsense going on the Middle East, that he'd been able to do excavations in Jericho. And he had dug at a different spot in Jericho, and what he discovered was a big thick pile of ash, 18 inches thick. And he did the dating on ash. And what he found is by three different dating methods, pottery, stella, and carbon 14, that this layer of ash came from, guess what? 1440 plus or minus 20 years by three different dating methodologies. Now what that says is Kathleen Kenyon and John Garstang were digging in different era and those walls came down, but apparently some other walls were built.

And this huge fire, which is described in the Bible, happened in 1440. And what's more in the ash were a bunch of seeds like barley and such. What does that say? They were not starved out. This is actually destruction of the city just like it's described in the book of Joshua. Now, does that prove that Joshua fit the Bible of Jericho? No, but it's remarkably consistent. And what had been a great difficulty for me teaching an errancy turns out to be a great confirmation as they discorded more about archeology. So now students say, Gary, are you okay with the doctrine inerrancy? No, there are big problems with it. There are, like what? The numbers and numbers, they're huge. I mean they're not a little huge. They're a lot huge. And they're way, way higher than what any reasonable population estimates come up with.

So what's the answer and what's my answer? I don't know. I don't know. But what I do say, and I say it with confidence, is there's a reasonable answer. My friend Ron Allen who wrote a commentary on numbers called it, these are newspaper numbers. And what happened, he said in that era, people just routinely add a zero to numbers. They're like Baptists and evangelism. Thousands are wonderfully saved. No, there are actually 23. And that's what he came up with as a way because we know it's common for them to exaggerate numbers. So there's some numbers in the Bible that are just way too big. There are possible answers, but I don't know what it is. I'm inclined to think now that those are exaggerated numbers as I would say it from a scientific perspective, but they communicate accurate in that day. That's the best I can do.

Are there problems with inerrancy? Yeah, but it's still the best explanation given the whole data. So for trustworthy translation, seems to me that's a helpful thing to do. So get a more formal New American Standard, woodenly, literal. English has never been spoken. Get the 2020 version, by the way. It's significant improvement over the 1995 version. I suggest ESV is good too. Get a more dynamic, and I'd suggest a New Living because it's dynamic, it's meaning for meaning. NIV is on the boundary between those two. Get a Jewish translation. I use the Complete Jewish Bible because it's Messianic and gives a double side. Get a Catholic Bible. I actually like the new Jerusalem version. And then if you can read a foreign language, read that as well. And for me it's Dutch. And when you compare those, it earns a lot of things.

And then what I can say about my English translation of the Bible is this is a trustworthy, accurate translation. I'll just say it this way. This is the word of God, and it's accurate and trustworthy. And I'm saying that about a translation with textual transmission, all those things. I think I can say it with confidence. Now if you want the real stuff, we'll learn Greek and Hebrew and read it. And really learn it. Don't just get a few words and that kind of stuff. But if you really want to do it, then you have to go back beginning Hebrew. But again, you've got to really learn it, not just looking up words in the dictionary or something. So for me, Holy Bible, wholly true, fact, command, promise is a key affirmation about scripture we really need to make. So there you go.


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