About this Class
One of the most pressing questions these days has to do with how we got our Bible and if we can trust the process. While there have always been attacks on the reliability of the Bible, in recent years it has become much more extreme.
We are working on a much more advanced level class in Leadership, Why We Trust Our Bible, that utilizes the work of some of today's leading scholars. In this class, Bill Mounce will be summarizing the issues. There are links on each of these talks to the fuller ones in Leadership.
This class is very much in progress and will be enhanced in the months to come.
We begin our examination of Scripture by looking at the first stage of the Bible's creation. When Jesus spoke, they did not write his words down right away. His stories were passed down by word of mouth. So the question is, how can we trust that the stories were not altered or made up?
Within a decade or so, the gospels were starting to be written down. (The letters, of course, were written right way.) The main issue here is was is called the "Synoptic Problem," how can Matthew, Mark, and Luke be so similar and yet different in places. And what about John? The keys to the question lie in Luke 1:1-4 and John 20:30-31. There are two fundamental answers to the question. (1) The historical situatrion can be reconstructed with a high degree of certainty, and once seen many of the issues fall away. (2) Harmonization is the process by which we understand how divergent accounts can also both be accurate.
In this short talk, Bill challenges the reader to think through the issues of trusting the paper, and why doing the hard work of investigating the issues is so important.
Inspiration is the critical doctrine that Scripture comes from the mouth of God and is therefore true. We will look at the issues of infallibility and inerrancy, and the two methods of inspiration. Finally, we will address the issue of the scope of inspiration. Is Scripture true in all it affirms, or is it only true in areas of faith and practice?
In this second half of the discussion on inspiration, we will focus on possible solutions to the apparent contradictions in the gopels. Is the secular source always right and the Bible wrong? Is it legitimate to practice harmonization? What does inspiration not cover, like footnotes, titles and headings and translations?
It is one thing to talk about inspiration in an academic context; it is another to truly trust that it is from God. The challenge of this talk is to think through why you believe, and then ask yourself if your reasons are strong enough to carry you through the difficult and painful times of your life.
Canonization is the process by which the church determined what books belonged in the Bible (and here we are focusing on the New Testament). Despite the frequent assertion to the opposite, the canon was not determined by a few individuals in a haphazard way. It appears that the three tests were authorship, harmony of doctrine and tone, and usage in the church as a whole. Is the canon still open; if we found more books, would we include them? And did the church get it right?
It does no good to talk about inspiration and canonization if the church altered the contents of the Bible through the centuries. And why are there differences among the Greek manuscripts? This is the topic of textual criticism. The current situation is that we are confident of 99% of the New Testament text, and the 1% we are unsure of contains no significant theological doctrine.
Unless you can read Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, you need a translation. But why are there so many, and why are they so often different? Can they be trusted. Bill was the Chair of the ESV translations for ten years and currently sits on the Committee on Bible Translation that is responsible for the NIV. He has a unique view into this question.