How Reliable Is the Bible?

Very reliable. The most reliable. Inerrant.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here are some resources from scholars greater than I to help support this claim.

INTERVIEWS

In this video, D.A. Carson answers the questions, “What does inerrancy mean? Is it essential to Christian belief?”

Some great scholars and pastors (including John Piper, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever) gathered for a panel discussion on inerrancy. Here is the audio.

Dr. Carl Trueman and Dr. Greg K. Beale (author of The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism) discuss the issue of inerrancy. Here is the audio.

BLOGS

Kevin DeYoung did an extensive series on inerrancy:

A fascinating interview with one of Christianity’s premier textual critics today discussing the evidence we have today to support the reliability of the Bible. If you only read one thing from this blog post, read this.

Daniel Wallace and Bart Ehrman debate the reliability of the Bible.

BOOKS

J.I. Packer, Truth and Power: The Place of Scripture in the Christian Life. You can download it for free!

Vern Polythress, titled Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible. A worldview defense of inerrancy.

Edited by Wayne Grudem, Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning.

Daniel Wallace, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript, Patristic, and Apocryphal Evidence (Text and Canon of the New Testament). Wallace’s response to Bart Ehrman’s works.

Daniel Wallace and Bart Ehrman debate the reliability of the Bible, again.The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue.

Craig Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels.

Dr. Greg K. Beale, The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority.

Advertisements

To Whet Your Appetite: 06/26/12

  • A recent article in Christianity Today suggests that American Christianity has become juvenilized: “the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults.”
  • If Christ is true, then boredom is sin.
  • Here are 10 really important things that young singles in romantic relationships ought to know. Even if you are not in a relationship, these things will be good to keep in mind.
  • Unfortunately, sexual sin is present in much of the church and among many of the pastors. Here are 7 steps to avoid sexual sin and stay in ministry. Really good advice even if you are not in the ministry because sexual sin will wreck you just as well.
  • We are seeing a revival among hip-hop, led by men like Lecrae and Trip Lee. Here is a two minute interview of Trip Lee describing hip-hop and the fight against sin.
  • A recent peer-reviewed article (that means it’s fancy and legit) was published in the journal Biological Theory that says that Darwinism may be at the end of its rope among scientists.

Tweets of the day:

The Christian Culture Bubble

Christians have a funny understanding of culture.

Many times when a new technology or cultural progression occurs, Christians automatically reject it. We don’t examine or investigate. We just cast off.

We liked the old way of doing church, preaching the Gospel, teaching truth. We don’t want that new stuff.

Having a preference isn’t wrong, but what happens is that in the minds of many Christians, the old ways become another truth to us—another Gospel—as if by playing an organ in church more people will be saved than by drums and lights.

What happens is that we equate the old way with righteousness. We all want to live righteously, right? And so, when we see the culture progressing from that old way, we retreat, we build walls, and create a righteous Christian culture bubble where we can be safe. And then we create our own alternatives to what the world offers so we feel like we still can have fun.

Such a mindset is sinful. Let’s call it for what it is.

THOU SHALT NOT TWEET

When we declare something “righteous” and something else “evil” without the backing of Scripture, we are doing what the Pharisees did—adding rules upon rules upon rules. I think God’s Word is sufficient enough to give us an adequate framework for morality, even in the 21st century. We don’t need to help God out by inviting ourselves to brainstorm new commands with Him.

Let’s also consider the implications of such a mindset.

We, the Church, have been commissioned to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The bubble-mindset is antithetical to this command. We cannot go if we are cloistered behind closed doors.

Take for example social networks. I know many Christians who have taken advantage of Twitter and Facebook for the glory of God. But I also know many other Christians who would criticize the other ones for being a part of social networks.

The comments vary between: “It’s all about pride on Twitter, so I’m not going to be a part of that” (translation: because I’m so humble)—”I’m a relational person, so I can only relate to people face-to-face”—”I don’t have time”—”It’s just stupid”—”It’s just a fad that will fade away.”

While I don’t have time to answer every objection (and that is not the object of my post), I would like to say this: social networks are not going anywhere. As of 2011, over 500 million people are on Facebook. That’s not a fad; that’s a cultural movement that is changing how the world is working. It may not be Facebook that’s the top dog in five years, but social networks are here to stay for a while.

If we are commanded to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” how come we are not willing to obey the “go” part? This is where the people are and so we must go.

As my lead pastor, Wesley, said the other day—gone is the day in America when a church could just open their doors and call it evangelism. Today, if your church doesn’t have a website, people may not even know it exists.

People called compact discs and digital music a fad. Now most new cars don’t even come with a tape player. Yet, I can guarantee you that there is a pastor somewhere still trying to hand out his sermons on cassette tapes.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GOSPEL

Of course, not all technology and culture is beneficial or good. If it violates Scripture then don’t use it. But don’t forget that many things in culture are morally neutral—it’s the person who decides if it will be used for evil or God’s glory. The internet can be used for pornography or for reaching people with the Gospel who would never set foot in a church—they are hurting and don’t know what to do, so they Google “Does God love me.”

It’s easy to forget that God was willing to come into human culture to reach us. He wrote the Bible in a language. He employed authors who used figures of speech and referenced customs of the day. And then He sent His Son to live in a culture. To eat certain foods. To dress a certain way. To speak a certain language. All with the goal of saving people in the culture.

Christians can reflect God as His ambassadors and do this too.

The Apostle Paul used the newly developed postal routes to send out his letters to the churches. Paul also quoted pagan poets to illustrate certain Gospel truths (Acts 17:28). Gutenberg and Luther used the new printing press to mass produce the Word of God. Today, many people are being saved through the free and easy access to thousands of quality preaching via podcasts and YouTube.

What really matters is that we have a heart to reach the lost and are willing to do anything outside of sin to do that. Christians, we cannot idolize our methods and our comfort. It doesn’t matter if it is through Twitter or on the bus; we should always have the Gospel on our lips.

How will you burst out of your bubble and get in the game?

To Whet Your Appetite: 06/20/12

  • The Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest denomination, has just elected their first African-American president, Fred Luter. This is extremely significant considering the fact that the SBC was first formed to support slaveholders during the days of slavery. What an amazing testament to the Gospel being able to transform an entire network of people. Here is a brief bio on Luter.
  • If you are a bookaholic like me, then you will want to check out this epic page of 50 book recommendations by Kevin DeYoung.
  • I haven’t seen the movie “Prometheus” yet (probably won’t because I don’t think I’d be able to stomach all the “chest-bursting”),  but Thabiti Anyabwile has an interesting take on the movie and how it accurately depicts the Gospel.
  • In this open letter, Mark Driscoll gives a convicting and stirring warning to all pastors who may be in the ministry for the money (which kind of sounds like an oxymoron).
  • In light of the same-sex marriage debate, Frank Turk explains the need for a clear definition of marriage. Hint: it’s more than just an institution and more than just the uniting of two hearts.
  • Too many Christians in evangelism try to convince or reason people into heaven. Jesus instead called people to deny their life and follow Him.

Tweets of the day:

Is the Church Today in the Worst State It’s Ever Been in?

No.

Contrary to popular belief, the church is not sinking like the Titanic.

Why do people say such things? Maybe it’s because of things like Barna’s slightly skewed statistics that say people are fleeing the church as if it were a mutant-possum. Maybe they are alarmed at the rampant hypocrisy of many clergymen or are perturbed at the wishy-washiness of many pulpits. Or maybe they see the state of America today and assume that’s how the church is doing too—since, you know, everyone in America is a Christian, right?

The critics believe the reason why the church is so messed up is because we have drifted away from the New Testament church model. They say—the first Christians had less of this and more of that.

  • They met in homes.
  • They didn’t care about money.
  • They were more missional.
  • They wrote less books.
  • They did more social justice.
  • They didn’t focus on doctrine.
  • They gave all their possessions away.
  • They didn’t really have pastors.
  • They spoke in tongues more.
  • They loved people more.
  • They preached less.
  • They drank more.
  • They were more like Jesus.

YOU MAY KISS THE BRIDE

The doomsayers do have one thing correct: the church is full of sin. But you know what?—it always has been. Even, (gasp!) during the New Testament and the first century church.

The church has always be made up of humans, and humans are sinful. Therefore, as long as the church is full of sinners it is going to be full of sin. It doesn’t justify the sin, but it will be a reality.

Yes, the church is the bride of Christ, but she can be very ugly at times.

NEW TESTAMENT REMIX

The problem is that we forget the sin nature of the first Christians and end up idolizing the NT church. The reality is that the NT church was not as full of baby angels and bejeweled bunnies. Almost every epistle was written to address a problem or conflict in the New Testament church.

Romans– written to address racial and theological tensions between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.

1 Corinthians– written to address a church that was more full of sin than a Las Vegas casino and to quiet those who were trying to rebel against Paul’s God-given apostolic authority.

2 Corinthians– written to address more turmoil in the churches at Corinth and once again reassert Paul’s God-given authority (slow learners those Corinthians).

Galatians– written to stop a rising cult, named the Judaizers, who were ravaging the churches in Galatia.

Colossians– written to correct certain heresies that were infiltrating the church and causing many to engage in ascetic practices—thinking that would earn favor with God.

1 Thessalonians– written to correct an incorrect mindset of the after-life and Christ’s Second Coming that caused depression and hopeless grieving in the church.

2 Thessalonians– written to correct another incorrect understanding of Christ’s Second Coming. This time they thought Jesus had already come back.

1 Timothy– written to encourage Timothy, pastor of the church in Ephesus, to confront the false teachers who had infiltrated his church.

Titus– written to encourage Titus, pastor of the church in Crete, to confront the false teachers who had infiltrated his church.

James– written to Jewish Christians who had fallen into living a worldly lifestyle, resorted to infighting, and split into many factions.

2 Peter– written to combat false teachers who were teaching that sexual sin was a legitimate Christian lifestyle.

1 John– written to respond to an early form of Gnosticism, another early church heresy.

Jude– written to defend the truth against false teachers who taught a false gospel and gave license to debauchery.

So the early church was no more holy than any other period of church history. Does this mean we throw out all the epistles say about the church? By no means!

We must use what the early church did wrong as an example of what not to do. Use the good things they did as examples to follow. Obey the commands given by God through the apostles. Where the Bible is silent (example: style of worship music), do not create your own commands to fill in the blanks.

And always remember that it is Christ who will build His church, not us. As one pastor said, Jesus has been hitting straight licks with crooked sticks for a long time. We just need to be faithful to sow the seed.

To Whet Your Appetite: 06/13/12

  • To be honest, I don’t really remember what my high school commencement speech was about. If this speech was given at my graduation that would be a different story.
  • Focus on the Family just finished a report on the difference between the Millennial generation and previous ones. Shows that Millennials are less religious, less likely to get married in their twenties, more likely to have children out of wedlock, and much more.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention is on track to elect its first African-American president. This is significant because the SBC was a denomination that originally formed before the Civil War to support the “rights” of slaveholders. Russell Moore looks back and recounts what it took to get the SBC to where it is today.
  • Trevin Wax interviews Steve Dewitt, author of Eyes Wide Open, as they talk about worshipping God through enjoying beauty and art.
  • Pretty fascinating: Veggie Tales creator repents from teaching kids moralism through his films.
  • Now I’m not a huge fan of video games but I think this article offers a great and balanced perspective to them. Just like any other medium, video games need to be consumed with a discerning spirit and an active mind.
  • Kevin DeYoung offers one indispensable rule for social media: Assume that everyone, everywhere will read what you write and see what you post.

Are You Bored with Grace?

The pastors of Ekklesia just got back from a retreat on Saturday and during the retreat each of us pastors got a chance to give a short message to the interns on what we’ve learned from our time in the ministry.

My warning to them was to not get bored with grace.

Grace is an undeserved gift. It is a Christian term that gets thrown around a lot and unfortunately, the result many times is that the power of the grace’s meaning begins to lose its power in our eyes. Especially for those of us in the ministry, we are constantly around the things of God that it is so easy to become numb to the beauty of what He is doing. You become desensitized.

RAIN, RAIN

Those of us in the Pacific Northwest will understand this, but when it rains for six months out of the year it can begin to get old really quickly. Instead of being excited every time it rains, it is easy to get bored or annoyed. Yet we forget that without that constant rainfall we would not have the lush green forests that the Pacific Northwest is famous for. Ask the people in Africa; they would do anything for a little bit of rain. We are around it so much that we forget the beauty and life giving power of rain.

It is the same thing for those who are in the church.

By grace you have been saved. Jesus gives you grace. Grace to you. Grace and truth. Trust grace. Accept grace. Grace this. Grace that. We are so immersed in messages of grace, acts of grace, and salvation by grace that—as perverse as it sounds—it gets boring.

It is so easy for grace to become the white noise behind our relationship with Christ.

So how do we regain a wonder for grace? We must grow in the indicatives—the facts—of the Gospel.

CALL THIS TO MIND

The book of Lamentations is all about sorrow, but it is also about holding onto God in the midst of that sorrow. After three chapters of straight emo verses, Jeremiah the prophet in 3:21-25 states, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.'”

Even in the middle of the deepest and darkest trial, Jeremiah is able to remember God’s grace and it is enough to sustain his soul.

To have an attitude like Jeremiah you must have a mind like Jeremiah. You can do this in two ways:

1.  Think specifically about what God has done for you in grace.

Look back in your life and remember who you were before Christ. Who you were two years ago. Who you were one month ago. God has given you a lot of grace to get you to where you are today.

Don’t be vague or abstract. What specific things has God given you in grace? Perhaps He has lifted an addiction from you or a destructive thought pattern. Maybe He has taught you to be a more loving spouse or friend.

All of it is grace poured out on you and it was not finished at the moment of salvation. You still sin. You still fail. Guess what? You still get amazing grace.

2.  Think deeply about what God has done for you in grace.

Don’t just think specifically about God’s grace acts but think deeply. What this means is that God’s grace does not just include salvation, forgiveness, and sanctification.

The very fact that you are alive today and not blown to bits over your sin is an act of grace. The fact that you have breath, food, shelter, clothing, family, friends, and money is an act of God’s loving kindness towards you. A sunset. An ice cream cone. A good joke. Every day you live is a new gift given from above full of thousands more—all for you to receive. “His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”

Every day is a new chance to experience the grace of God. You don’t deserve any of it, but even so He gives it freely.

May we never be bored with His grace again.

Photo Credit: “Rain Bokeh” by kevin dooley through CC 3.0

To Whet Your Appetite: 06/05/12

How are we in June already?!

  • No one can argue that there is not a crisis amongst young men in the church (yes a double-negative); people are just disagreeing what the actual problem is. Perhaps the issue is not the proper definition of masculinity but just good old-fashioned maturity.
  • A 13 year-old girl wrote John Piper a letter asking him how to go deeper in her personal Bible study. Here is his response and it is relevant for those of any age looking to grow in the Word. I’m not sure which is cooler, whether it is that a 13 year-old wants to go deep in Bible study or that John Piper responded to the letter on his blog.
  • Looking for good Christian music? It is hard to find but Mars Hill in Seattle has been putting out some good beats lately. Here is The Sing Team’s adaption of Psalm 42.
  • Kevin DeYoung: “There is no sin so prevalent, so insidious, and so deep as the sin of fearing people more than we fear God.”
  • Do you get distracted during your prayer time? Here are 5 practical ways to help kill those distractions.
  • We live in a world so full of screens that it is easy to forget to experience life with our eyeballs. Here is Jon Acuff’s take on the matter, including the most hilarious stalker photo I have ever seen (Grown man. iPad. Madagascar penguins).