Is the Bible Corrupted? (What to Make of Transmission Errors)

HAS JESUS BEEN JESUS MISQUOTED?

Early church librarian, Pamphilus of Caesarea, in the mid-200s, would make copies of Scripture and “correct the manuscripts of the Bible.” Even back then, there was a godly reverence for correctly copying Scripture.

In spite of that, many documents have come to us “corrupted,” or changed in one way or another.

In fact, it is said, there are more discrepancies in the copies of the New Testament than there are words in the New Testament (quote from White Horse Inn episode below). What should we make of that?

Does this mean the Bible is actually inaccurate? Does this mean the Bible is fallible and unreliable? How do we know that what we read is actually the historical truth?

In this day and age, many opponents of Christianity attack the New Testament, attempting to collapse the great foundation on which Christianity rests. They have a point. << READ ON >>

Athiest Claims to See Hell

Can a changed life provide evidence that
a proported event has happened?

In the case below, this college professor on his death-bed experiences some of the pains of what he says was hell.  The change in his life shows that SOMETHING happened. What would a scientist say to these claims? How would the scientist explain this experience?

Part One

Part Two

It’s science week. How do we approach this from a scientific perspective? A scientist sets up the observation. Looks at the evidence. Considers the laws at work, and looks for the best explanation. Then the scientist tests their theory.

Looking at the Evidence

We have watched the videos. The man says he was an athiest. He got sick and died/almost died. During this time he had a horrifying experience which he called hell. His experience in “hell” changed when he called out,

“Jesus, please help me!”  

Then positive things happened, resulting in his coming back to this life and being healed by the doctors.

Considering the Laws at Work
& Looking for the Best Explanation

This is an issue in the mental-psychological realm

Either he saw something. (Truth-teller)

Or thought he saw something. (Self-deceived/delusional)

Or did not see anything, but said he saw something. (Liar)

From the change in his life we can probably rule out the Liar option, since many years passed between the experience and the recording, yet he did not change his story. It appears he obviously believes in his own story. So either he is delusional or telling the truth.

How can science help us know if he is telling the truth or not? Do we need to determine our boundaries?

Reductive Naturalism

…would say that the answer has to lie in the physical world. It could not be true that he experienced something in the supernatural. It was in his mind, and something he saw flipped his view of reality. So he would be delusional, somehow. They would run a battery of tests to find out what kind of psychological problems he has. Simple.

A Theistic Explanation

…would not automatically reduce the possibilities to physical world, so the option of super-nature is still on the table. He might have seen something, and that something might be supernatural.

Testing the Theory

How can we test if he is telling the truth about what he said?

We could test for delusional psychology. Test how he interacts outside of this recording. Is his lifestyle consistent with his profession of faith in God? (Or does he speak on contrary topics elsewhere, for example). We’d need to check his life. To see if he is a habitual liar, or if his actions reflect someone who is not in touch with reality.

If his lifestyle is consistent with his profession of faith in God, we could test if he speaks in accordance with theistic laws.

When I listened to him, I was keenly aware of each point he said, and compared it with what the Bible says. Why the Bible? Because through other reasoning I have come to the confidence in the reliability of the Bible in matters of supernature.

I measured his words against the Bible. It didn’t seem to contradict…

It seems simplistic, because by the same measure we would also have to say that those who see aliens could possibly be telling the truth. And those who are in non-Christian religions who have similar experiences have to be taken at face-value.

I am prepared to consider their cases in the same way. And in the same way, I would measure their words against the Bible’s presentation of the supernatural/natural world connection.

Case in point–

 “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven”

This best seller about a boy who “saw heaven” had a lot of rubbish, inaccurate according to the Bible. It came out later that the boy and his father were lying. The boy fessed up, but the father keeps reaping the royalties.

Afterlife Travelogues

Unfortunately, the “afterlife travelogue” presented above is firstly questionable because it has dangerous implications. If we believe he went to actual hell, he would be disproving the existence of hell.

What I mean is, we understand hell, and the power of the name of Jesus, from Scripture.

The Bible says,“man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” Heb 9:27

If his experience was actually hell,
one man’s experience would be disproving the book of Hebrews.

And if he disproves Hebrews, all of Scripture is suspect. And if Scripture is suspect, his being saved by the name of Jesus is suspect. Meaning that if he were actually in the hell Christ spoke of, he was not where he thought he was, and he could not have been rescued by the one he thought rescued him. It’s self-contradicting.

Experience must bow to Scripture. If your experience tells you something contrary to the Bible, your INTERPRETATION of your experience is wrong.

It [the afterlife-story phenomena] is not harmless. It denigrates the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It confounds faith with superstition. It subtly elevates human experience to a higher level than the Word of God. It purports to reveal things about God and the heavenly realm that are not taught in Scripture. And it repeatedly insinuates that the testimony of someone who has been mystically enlightened can be a more effective stimulant to faith than Scripture alone…

Thus says John MacArthur. He continues…

This is just one example of a large and growing subgenre of afterlife travelogues popular today—a genre that includes at least two mega-best-selling titles from evangelical publishers. The authors of these stories—and evi­dently millions of readers as well—regard these testimonies as authori­tative, reliable, and full of superior insights that can take readers to a higher level of understanding and enlightenment beyond what we can get from the Bible.

In other words, all of these books take a similarly protognostic stance on heaven and the afterlife. All of them are dan­gerous and misleading. That includes the ones that seem fairly benign as well as the ones that are clearly steeped in occult superstition. All of them stand as reminders to us that Scripture and Scripture alone is the only safe place for Christians to learn anything about the immortality of human souls, what happens to a person after death, what heaven is like, what awaits the unrighteous in hell, and what we can expect in the judgment to come.

Conclusions

So my final conclusion (after testing his life/mental state) might be that he saw something. Maybe a dream or something dream-like. But he did see something.

But he did not go to hell.

Because his life changed drastically, 180*, I know a frightening experience happened to him. He had a supernatural, near-death experience that shook his foundations. But according to Scripture, he did not die and he did not go to hell. He got a chance to make things right. Good for him.

Comments: What do you think?

Sola Scriptura

LIFE WITH NO BIBLE

What would the world be like with no Scripture?  Can you imagine, there actually was a time when God’s word was spoken into hearts only.  From the time of Adam until the giving of the law on Mount Sinai (sometime between 1600-1300 BC), there was no written record of God’s testimony to Man.

And it changed after God spoke audibly to the Children of Israel, and then took a stone and wrote with His own finger the Ten Commandments.  After this basis was written, Moses began writing the Penteteuch.  Then we have the History books and Poetry books, and the Prophetical writings of the Old Testament.

When the time was right, God sent His Word to earth in the flesh.

Once a Bible professor asked our class, which is more important:  Jesus or the Bible.  What do you think?

Consider this.  If Jesus is the Word of God, and the Bible is the Word of God, in a sense, they are equal.

It makes me cringe to think of the times I have put my Bible on the floor, or stacked things on top of it, or left it on the shelf gathering dust.

DIET OF WORMS

The year was 1521, Martin Luther, one of the lucky ones, knew Greek and Hebrew so he could read the Bible, and know what the Bible said.  He found that over the years a lot of Church leaders had neglected Scripture for the traditions of Popes and decisions of Councils before them.  His life was one big STOP SIGN held out to them.  He wanted them to know that Scripture was sufficient.  Scripture in its interaction with the common man’s intellect.

They took him to Worms, and held him on trial.  “Do you recant?” they asked him.  He looked at his books. They wanted him to deny that they were true. They wanted him to disown what he had written.  He apologized for the ones in which he was rude and disrespectful to others.  But regarding the rest he said,

“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

This site includes a primary account of the Diet of Worms.

In the same way, we need to trust the Bible to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

WHAT RULE?

Catechism Q2:

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?

A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

FINAL AUTHORITY

When we say Sola Scriptura, we are saying that the Bible is our final authority, and it is enough.  We don’t need other books, other people, other conferences, in order to KNOW truth.  Other books, people, conferences can help us grow in our relationship with God.  But our final authority and SOURCE for knowing God is the Bible Only.

What about the Creeds?  What about the foundational doctrines of the church, like the dual-nature of Christ, like the Trinity?  DId those not come from Councils?

Yes.  We also believe in church–the importance of going, of encouraging each other, of praying for one another.  We believe in the Preaching of the Word, that the pastor has a unique message for the church each time he preaches.  We are intimately aware of the need for others involved in our lives to teach and instruct.  But Sola Scriptura means that if it is not specifically taught in Scripture, it is not authoritative.  Trinity is a word that is not in Scripture. But the triune nature of God IS in Scripture.  The Councils that depended upon Scripture alone, through the reasonings of Biblical passages, are considered by Protestant Christians to be authoritative for our lives.  The others are not.  For example, if the evidence is extra-biblical–like some

IN THE BOOK: TRUNK OF SCROLLS

Marcellus, Byziana and his family are some of the rare common people who actually know how to read, and who actually have Scripture scrolls that they can read whenever they want.  When they depend upon the Scrolls, they find their relationship with God grows and their peace and joy in life grows.  When Byziana reads Leo’s Tome, she understands from Scripture that the nature of Christ was dual–God and man.