Do You Believe the Bible in its Entirety?
This subject has been covered, over the years, in sermons and other material, and in our Statement of Beliefs, you will find the following:
“Our doctrines and practices are based upon a literal understanding of the teachings revealed in the entire Bible. We believe that the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments are God’s revelation of His Will to man, inspired in thought and word, and infallible in the original writings; that said Scriptures are the supreme and final authority in faith and life, the source of Truth and the foundation of all knowledge.”
We have also produced a booklet entitled “Old Testament Laws – Still Valid Today?” and another booklet with the title “God’s Law…Or God’s Grace?” plus many other booklets that will reflect our belief in the inerrancy of the Bible; that it is without error or fault in all its teaching. We also produced a Q&A in January 2006 which addressed the question: “In the Bible, God gives specific instructions and commandments. But weren’t Paul’s writings driven by the prevailing culture at that time?” This is still available on our website, where the question is thoroughly answered.
However, there are numerous people and church organisations who feel that they can “pick and mix.” Let us give you an example of such an approach.
In 2004, the Roman Catholic Church in the UK produced a paper to present in Rome, entitled “The Gift of Scripture”. These are some brief comments on this subject taken from the ekklesia website. The headline on September 14, 2005, was: “Catholics encouraged to give emphasis to the Bible.” It then went on to say the following:
“Roman Catholics throughout Britain are being encouraged to reaffirm the Bible as foundational for their faith, and to make its critical appreciation a key part of their discipleship and church identity. The Gift of Scripture provides an explanation of Catholic teaching on the Bible. The 60-page booklet outlines the basic principles by which it is interpreted, and gives guidance on some difficult questions which arise, says the Catholic Communications Network.”
Four books of the Bible came in for some heavy criticism – Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs and Revelation – and they feel that the first two chapters of Genesis are contradictory rather than complementary.
On page 27 of their document, when talking about the book of Exodus, they state that “The entry into the promised land is seen as a fulfilment of the divine promise, but the narratives raise serious theological questions.”
The book of Proverbs does not escape their criticism – they say: “Some proverbs are profound and weighty, while others are somewhat trivial.”
Then, of course, there’s the book of Revelation. They say, on page 48: “Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and not be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world.”
In the Times in October 2004, the religious correspondent observed that “the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church – in the UK – has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.”
On the website catholicplanet there is “A Critical Review of the Document ‘The Gift of Scripture’” by Ronald L. Conte Jr. from November 14, 2005 where he writes:
“In summary, it is a heresy (and not a new one), which has been repeatedly condemned by successive Roman Pontiffs, to claim that the Bible is only infallible in matters pertaining to salvation, or only to faith and morals. Yet this document, called ‘The Gift of Scripture,’ not only displays a clear belief in this heresy, but also presumes to teach the same heresy, along with various other errors, as if such was the teaching of Christ.
“Furthermore, most of the text of GS (Gift of Scripture) treats the Bible as if it were merely a set of human books, containing errors, contradictions, and imperfect, time-conditioned human ideas. Despite some paragraphs that proclaim the Divine inspiration of Scripture, most of the document speaks as if it were merely a human book.”
It would appear that not everyone agreed with this booklet, including those within the Catholic church itself.
There is so much criticism from atheists and agnostics who feel that the Bible is not true in whole or part, as well as many “Christians” who will take the parts they like and dismiss those parts that don’t quite suit them.
On the website bibleinfo we read: “When the 66 books of the Bible with their 1,189 chapters made up of 31,173 verses are brought together (in the KJV), we find perfect harmony in the message they convey. As the great scholar F. F. Bruce noted: ‘The Bible is not simply an anthology; there is a unity which binds the whole together.’ In addition, Dr E L Towns noted that ‘there were numerous authors writing over a period of about sixteen hundred years and representing fifty-five generations and even though these authors represent a great diversity of occupations and ethnic/sociological backgrounds, the unified structure and theme of the Bible suggest there is one Mind who put it all together – God Himself, the Author of Scripture.’”
It is an incredible document.
We read in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Inspiration is from the Greek word “theopneustos” which is translated “divinely breathed” which clearly shows the source.
Whom do we believe? God – the author of the Bible or Roman Catholic Bishops or anyone else who have their own ideas about which bits in the Bible they like and which bits they don’t?
The problem with some is that they can take the “social and cultural norms of the time” approach that allows the culture of the day to become more important than God’s clear instructions! That’s dangerous ground!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He says: “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6) and the Word of God, likewise, is unchangeable. We can’t “cherrypick” Scripture. We must take the Bible in its entirety and that includes Paul’s writings which are now part of Scripture and which cannot be dismissed as only applicable to his own time. If we do take the approach that we can have this bit of Scripture but discard another bit, then we become the arbiters of what is right and what should be in the Bible. We have neither the ability to so discern – nor do we have authority. And as for casting doubt on certain books in the Bible, that is nothing new.
Martin Luther, the 16th century German theologian, was frustrated by the works-emphasis, as he saw it, of the book of James, calling it “the Epistle of Straw”, and questioned its canonicity. He was also irritated with the complex symbolism of the Book of Revelation and once said that it too, was not canon, and that it should be thrown into the river! Apparently, he later retracted these statements, but it does show that leading figures have had their doubts about certain portions of the Bible that do not fit in with their own ideas.
In Acts 24:14 we read that Paul had no doubt about the validity of God’s Word: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”
Paul believed ALL things written in the law and the prophets. There is no doubt here at all. Did he, one of the great men of the Bible, cast any doubt on Scripture? Not at all, and neither should anyone else who purports to be a Christian!
Jesus Christ also showed that He believed in the inerrancy of the Word of God. When He was tested three times by Satan as we read in Matthew 4:1-11, He said, four times “It is written”, referring to the Old Testament. He also made a statement in John 10:35: “… the Scripture cannot be broken.” In Matthew 5:18, He further asserted: “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
The Catholic Bishops emphasised in their paper the human dimension of Scripture. But the Bible has something to say on this aspect too. In 2 Peter 1:20-21 we read: “… knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
As one internet commentator wrote: “He (that is Peter) wrote these words not long before his martyrdom. They emerge not only from his personal experience of being taught directly by Christ Himself, but also from several decades of His Christian life afterwards. These words were tested by long years of living experience. Under God’s inspiration, this is the true testimony of an authentic apostle of Jesus Christ.”
The Bishops – all of them – are answered from Scripture. We know that when Jesus Christ was tempted by the Devil, He answered not by human reasoning but by quoting the Word of God. That is the way to respond, not making up our own arguments that can come from fallible human reasoning and pre-conceived ideas – but straight from the Word of God. Isaiah 28:10 states: “Here a little, there a little”, as we have long understood that the Bible interprets itself for those with eyes to see.
In Deuteronomy 12:32 is a warning: “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” In Revelation 22:18-19 is another warning: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
The message of the Bible is complete and needs no extra attention from anyone.
What rebukes these are to those who treat the message carelessly or think that they have answers or input over and above that which is clearly stated in the Word of God! We know that these Bishops, and others, are not being called now – their fruits clearly show that they are not in step with the Word of God, but they will have their opportunity in due course, because God is fair.
In the meantime, those of us who have been called into the true Church of God must make sure that we don’t treat the Word of God lightly and that we revere ALL Scripture. Anything less and we will be in serious trouble!
Yes, we do believe the Bible in its entirety!
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)