The Bible’s View of Itself

Though being the most reprinted and most translated book many people doubt the authority of that bestseller of all times.

English: End page of the Lübeck Bible (1494), ...
End page of the Lübeck Bible (1494), showing the end of the book of revelation and the printer de:Steffen Arndes’ kolophon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not all people are convinced it has something to say for them. Even lots of Christians never took the time to read the Bible from A to Z. Lots of people do think it is from the old times and as such ‘passé’. They have no idea how the Bible is still best for contemporary use. Much more people should come to see that it is really a book to cherish because it offers many lessons for life and sustains future hope, bringing meaning and power to the present.

In the previous message we said already that Western civilization is in a severe “authority crisis” which is not confined solely to the realm of religious faith, nor is it specially or uniquely threatening to Bible believers.

We should be much aware that our look at the bible can influence our society very much. Too many people do forget that regard for the Bible is decisive for the course of Western culture and in the long run for human civilization generally. People should come to recognise that there is more behind the human writers who scribbled down many words, not of their own. Many wise words they never claimed to be their own. They even say that what they wrote down is not written down from  their own inspiration but form the Higher Being which directed them.

Let us therefore have a look at what an encyclopedia of the Bible says about this library of books its own view.

(KJV) 1631 Holy Bible, Robert Barker/John Bill...
(KJV) 1631 Holy Bible, Robert Barker/John Bill, London. King James Version (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible’s View of Itself

The intelligible nature of divine revelation — the presupposition that God’s will is made known in the form of valid truths — is the central presupposition of the authority of the Bible. Much recent neo-Protestant theology demeaned the traditional evangelical emphasis as doctrinaire and static. It insisted instead that the authority of Scripture is to be comprehended internally as a witness to divine grace engendering faith and obedience, thus disowning its objective character as universally valid truth.

Somewhat inconsistently, almost all neo-Protestant theologians have appealed to the record to support cognitively whatever fragments of the whole seem to coincide with their divergent views, even though they disavow the Bible as a specially revealed corpus of authoritative divine teaching. For evangelical orthodoxy, if God’s revelational disclosure to chosen prophets and apostles is to be considered meaningful and true, it must be given not merely in isolated concepts capable of diverse meanings but in sentences or propositions. A proposition — that is, a subject, predicate, and connecting verb (or “copula”) — constitutes the minimal logical unit of intelligible communication. The OT prophetic formula “thus saith the Lord” characteristically introduced propositionally disclosed truth. Jesus Christ employed the distinctive formula “But I say unto you” to introduce logically formed sentences which he represented as the veritable word or doctrine of God.

The Angel Appears to John. The book of Revelat...
The Angel Appears to John. The book of Revelation. 13th century manuscript. British Library, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible is authoritative because it is divinely authorized; in its own terms, “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tm 3:16 NIV). According to this passage the whole OT (or any element of it) is divinely inspired. Extension of the same claim to the NT is not expressly stated, though it is more than merely implied. The NT contains indications that its content was to be viewed, and was in fact viewed, as no less authoritative than the OT. The apostle Paul’s writings are catalogued with “other scriptures” (2 Pt 3:15, 16). Under the heading of Scripture, 1 Timothy 5:18 cites Luke 10:7 alongside Deuteronomy 25:4 (cf. 1 Cor 9:9). The Book of Revelation, moreover, claims divine origin (1:1–3) and employs the term “prophecy” in the OT meaning (22:9, 10, 18). The apostles did not distinguish their spoken and written teaching but expressly declared their inspired proclamation to be the Word of God (1 Cor 4:1; 2 Cor 5:20; 1 Thes 2:13).

Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 298). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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Preceding:

Life and an assembly of books

The Bible a book of books

Revolt against the Authority of the Bible

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Additional reading

  1. Necessity of a revelation of creation 1 Works of God and works of man
  2. Necessity of a revelation of creation 6 Getting understanding by Word of God 4
  3. Necessity of a revelation of creation 13 Getting wisdom
  4. Redemption # 1Biblical doctrine of salvation
  5. Challenging claim 4 Inspired by God 3 Self-consistent Word of God
  6. In a world which knows no peace sharing blessed hope
  7. Theologians and a promised Spirit to enlighten us
  8. Our life depending on faith
  9. Collection of books
  10. A collection of holy writings to show God and His Works
  11. One not without the other
  12. Recommended articles about the Book of books the Bible
  13. Unread bestseller

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Further reading

  1. The Good News: A Bible Study
  2. Unfolding God’s Word
  3. Best news I’ve heard!
  4. Pennies from Heaven
  5. Changes
  6. What Does The Bible Say About Friendship?
  7. In a Whisper
  8. There is something missing!
  9. Psalm 39 – Please Ignore Me
  10. Slap To Reality
  11. Live Your Life Worthy
  12. There’s no other way
  13. One of The Great Metaphors: The Tree of Life
  14. Taking That Step of Faith
  15. Your Word for This Day: “Faithful to God, No Matter What…”
  16. God’s Word
  17. 283 Things In The New Testament
  18. Therefore Jesus Said to Them
  19. Word
  20. Morning Prayer: Forgive Our Seeking
  21. Little by Little
  22. Bible-In-A-Year Day 237: Ezekiel 5-8
  23. Wisdom 2.6
  24. Our Great High Priest
  25. A Highway in the Wilderness
  26. God’s Glory
  27. Trust In God’s Mercy
  28. “Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time”*…
  29. I Don’t Like the Word “Religion”

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Revolt against the Authority of the Bible

Concerning the authority of the Holy Scriptures there has bean much debate. Let us have a look on what is written about the Power of God’s Word and its authority in a well-known encyclopedia of the Bible.

The Power of God’s Word.

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...
The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible remains the most extensively printed, widely translated, and frequently read book in the world. Its words have been treasured in the hearts of multitudes like none other. All who have received its gifts of wisdom and promises of new life and power were at first strangers to its redemptive message, and many were hostile to its teaching and spiritual demands. In every generation its power to challenge persons of all races and lands has been demonstrated. Those who cherish the Book because it sustains future hope, brings meaning and power to the present, and correlates a misused past with the forgiving grace of God, would not long experience such inner rewards if Scripture were not known to them as the authoritative, divinely revealed truth. To the evangelical Christian, Scripture is the Word of God, given in the objective form of propositional truths through divinely inspired prophets and apostles, and the Holy Spirit is the giver of faith through that Word.

Carl F. H. Henry

Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 300). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Bible, Authority of the.

View that the Bible is the Word of God and as such should be believed and obeyed.

Image from the Book of Kells, a 1200 year old ...
Image from the Book of Kells, a 1200 year old book. Category:Illuminated manuscript images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Western civilization is in a severe “authority crisis” which is not confined solely to the realm of religious faith, nor is it specially or uniquely threatening to Bible believers. Parental authority, marital authority, political authority, academic authority, and ecclesiastical authority are all being deeply questioned. Not only particular authorities — the Scripture, the pope, political rulers, and so on — but the concept of authority itself is vigorously challenged. Today’s crisis of biblical authority thus reflects the uncertainties of civilizational consensus:

Who has the power and the right to receive and to require submission?

Revolt Against Biblical Authority.

As the sovereign Creator of all, the God of the Bible wills and has the right to be obeyed. Judge of men and nations, the self-revealed God wields unlimited authority and power. All creaturely authority and power is derived from that of God. The power God bestows is a divine trust, a stewardship. God’s creatures are morally accountable for their use or misuse of it. In fallen human society God wills civil government for the promotion of justice and order. He approves an ordering of authoritative and creative relationships in the home by stipulating certain responsibilities of husbands, wives, and children. He wills a pattern of priorities for the church as well: Jesus Christ the head, prophets and apostles through whom redemptive revelation came, and so on.

The inspired Scriptures, revealing God’s transcendent will in objective written form, are the rule of faith and conduct through which Christ exercises his divine authority in the lives of Christians.

Revolt against particular authorities has in our time widened into a revolt against all transcendent and external authority. The widespread questioning of authority is condoned and promoted in many academic circles.
Philosophers with a radically secular outlook have affirmed that God and the supernatural are mythical conceptions, that natural processes and events comprise the only ultimate reality. All existence is said to be temporal and changing, all beliefs and ideals are declared to be relative to the age and culture in which they appear. Biblical religion, therefore, like all other, is asserted to be merely a cultural phenomenon. The Bible’s claim to divine authority is dismissed by such thinkers; transcendent revelation, fixed truths, and unchanging commandments are set aside as pious fiction.

In the name of humanity’s supposed “coming of age,” radical secularism champions human autonomy and creative individuality. Human beings are lords of their own destiny and inventors of their own ideals and values, it is said. They live in a supposedly purposeless universe that has itself presumably been engendered by a cosmic accident. Therefore human beings are declared to be wholly free to impose upon nature and history whatever moral criteria they prefer. In such a view, to insist on divinely given truths and values, on transcendent principles, would be to repress self-fulfillment and retard creative personal development. Hence the radically secular view goes beyond opposing particular external authorities whose claims are considered arbitrary or immoral; radical secularism is aggressively hostile to all external authority, viewing it as intrinsically restrictive of the autonomous human spirit.

Any reader of the Bible will recognize rejection of divine authority and definitive revelation of what is right and good as an age-old phenomenon. It is not at all peculiar to the contemporary person “come of age”; it was found already in Eden. Adam and Eve revolted against the will of God in pursuit of individual preference and supposed self-interest. But their revolt was recognized to be sin, not rationalized as philosophical “gnosis” at the frontiers of evolutionary advance.

If one takes a strictly developmental view, which considers all reality contingent and changing, where is the basis for humanity’s decisively creative role in the universe? How could a purposeless cosmos cater to individual self-fulfillment?

Only the biblical alternative of the Creator-Redeemer God, who fashioned human beings for moral obedience and a high spiritual destiny, truly preserves the permanent, universal dignity of the human species. The Bible does so, however, by a demanding call for personal spiritual decision.
The Bible sets forth the superiority of humans to the animals, their high dignity (“little less than God”—Ps 8:5) because of the divine rational and moral image that all bear by reason of creation.

English: Print 3330 in volume 27 of the Bowyer...
Print 3330 in volume 27 of the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. From page 12 of Volume 1 of “A-Z of Artists in the Bowyer Bible” by Phillip Medhurst. Photo 4 of 117. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the context of universal human involvement in Adamic sin, the Bible utters a merciful divine call to redemptive renewal through the mediatorial person and work of Christ. Fallen humanity is invited to experience the Holy Spirit’s renewing work, to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and to anticipate a final destiny in the eternal presence of the God of justice and justification.

Contemporary rejection of biblical tenets does not rest on any logical demonstration that the case for biblical theism is false; it turns rather on a subjective preference for alternative views of “the good life.”
The Bible is not the only significant reminder that human beings stand daily in responsible relationship to the sovereign God. He reveals his authority in the cosmos, in history, and in inner conscience, a disclosure of the living God that penetrates into the mind of every person (Rom 1:18–20; 2:12–15). Rebellious suppression of that “general divine revelation” does not wholly succeed in suspending a fearsome sense of final divine accountability (Rom 1:32).
Yet it is the Bible as “special revelation” that most clearly confronts our spiritually rebellious race with the reality and authority of God.

Title page from the Great Bible published by G...
Title page from the Great Bible published by Grafton and Whitchurch in 1539. It depicts an enthroned Henry VIII receiving the Word of God and bestowing it upon his bishops and archbishops (top third), who in turn deliver it to the priests (middle third). Finally, the laity hear the Word and loyally recite, “Vivat Rex” and “God save the kynge” (bottom third). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Scriptures, the character and will of God, the meaning of human existence, the nature of the spiritual realm, and the purposes of God for humankind in all ages are stated in propositionally intelligible form that all can understand. The Bible publishes in objective form the criteria by which God judges individuals and nations, and the means of moral recovery and restoration to personal fellowship with him.

Regard for the Bible is therefore decisive for the course of Western culture and in the long run for human civilization generally. Intelligible divine revelation, the basis for belief in the sovereign authority of the Creator-Redeemer God over all human life, rests on the reliability of what Scripture says about God and his purposes. Modern naturalism impugns the authority of the Bible and assails the claim that the Bible is the Word of God written, that is, a transcendently given revelation of the mind and will of God. Attack upon scriptural authority is the storm center both in the controversy over revealed religion and in the modern conflict over civilizational values.

Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (pp. 296–298). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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Preceding:

Are there certain books essential to come to faith

Life and an assembly of books

Reliability of message appears from honesty writers

The Bible a book of books

Continued with: The Bible’s View of Itself

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Additional reading

  1. God does not change
  2. God wants to be gracious to you
  3. God receives us on the basis of our faith
  4. Doctrine and Conduct Cause and Effect
  5. Mishmash of a legal code but importance of mitzvah or commandments
  6. Cosmos creator and human destiny
  7. Christian values, traditions, real or false stories, pure and upright belief
  8. Cognizance at the doorstep or at the internet socket
  9. I can’t believe that … (4) God’s word would be so violent
  10. The business of this life
  11. Importance of parents 2
  12. Control your destiny or somebody else will

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Further reading

  1. Why study prophecy? And what does apocalypse really mean, anyway?
  2. Church Shopping: Engraved
  3. Spiritual Sucide
  4. Church Shopping: Renovation
  5. A Simple Case for Postmillennium
  6. Warnings to 7 churches are so relevant today
  7. How to Destroy the Faith in Five Easy Steps
  8. The Baptist Confession of Faith
  9. They All Point To Him
  10. Sovereignty
  11. The Authority
  12. Delegating authority: a two-way traffic
  13. Positioned to Reign
  14. Rant: Debating People that have Authority Over You
  15. Aphorism of the Day: Ideas + Force = Force
  16. The Power of Words
  17. Life essentials: bite my tongue
  18. Book Review: “All Authority”
  19. Article: Authority in Spiritual Direction Conversations: Dialogic Perspectives, by David Crawley
  20. Governor of the Jews
  21. Hannah Arendt: The Solution to Conscience
  22. Light Up The World
  23. Lines of Flight: For Another World of Possibilities
  24. You Are a Ruler
  25. The Authority of Jesus
  26. Society…what happened?
  27. We sit ignorant of the authority given
  28. God’s Will > Your Will
  29. Digging Deeper Into Worship: Jude’s Doxology
  30. Kingdom Life and the 21st Century

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