The Times Spoken of in the Bible
There is much conjecture concerning the ancient times described in the Bible. This is especially true of the very earliest of times of Earth history, as described by Moses in Genesis and Exodus. Did God create the world in six days and did Adam and Eve really live 900 plus years? Or did the world, and the life in it, come from chance and long ages? Did Noah build a big boat and then use it to save his family when he was 600 years old? Or is the flood an old fable derived from some local flooding long ago?
Many believe that the people and dates of the Bible are purely fictitious. Others believe that there is an element of truth but that the dates themselves cannot be considered to be accurate at all.
Even those who trust the bible cannot agree on how it was written. Some believe that Genesis and Exodus was Moses' account of the history of the world. In this process he was inspired by God to write these things in his own words.
Evolution Vrs. Creationism
The author has struggled with these questions. If Genesis is a true account of early times; then, we must safely conclude that the whole philosophy of evolution and our whole understanding of this world is totally in error.
The Bible depicts man originally as being perfect in the image of God. Only later, when sin enters the world, does man start to degrade, first morally, but then after the flood, even physically.
Before the flood men died after 900 years of living. After the flood something must have happened to the environment or to their genetics, because the ages of the generations suddenly start to decline.
These Bible facts are totally opposed to what Evolution teaches. Evolution demands that life itself start as a simple one-celled organism; then, as time progresses, life is seen as becoming more complex and capable. Evolution doesn't see man degrading, becoming less capable, but instead, Evolution sees man as progressing, thus becoming more capable.
Today man is seen as having ascended from very humble beginnings in an evolutionary path until, in today's world, he is seen as being the pinnacle of nature.
We have a choice, but is it cut and dry?
So Belief in Genesis and Exodus not only allow us to understand early dates and times; but, belief in these books actually demand that we view the whole history of mankind entirely differently from what much of the world believes!
Since science clearly opposes the teachings of the Bible, should that opposition automatically force us to reject the Biblical account of creation week and the flood? Many have done exactly that. They have chosen to follow the leading of mainline science.
The author does not think that is a wise decision. In science, many of the basic questions, that determine the interpretation of a study, are not known. Especially are the historical sciences dependent on interpretation that is not fully understood. Since there is no way to solve all the basic questions of a problem, they must be assumed. So, in order for a scientist to study almost any aspect of nature, he/she must start with a set of assumptions that cannot be proved.
Since Scientific understanding, by its very nature, must depend upon assumptions that cannot be substantiated; We must then realize that Science cannot claim to be absolute truth. All science needs to do is to come up with a plausible scenario that answers the question that the scientist was looking at. Science answers questions, but it does not demand that the answers be correct. It hopes they are correct, but there is no direct way to determine the correctness of answers in science other than continued research. It is hoped that the right answers will eventually be found or that the current answers will be confirmed; but, there is no guarantee that truth will be achieved.
The real difference between the evolutionist and the creationist is that they have different assumptions that they base their interpretation on.
There is no real evidence that proves or disproves the Genesis story or Evolution. Instead we must choose which paradigm we wish to work in. Science can work in either paradigm providing they are successful.
Author's Experience in Christ
I choose the Bible as having the correct explanation for our existence because of my experience in Christ, plain and simple. I now have three links that describe this experience. The first, Miracles: My Own Experiences! show some of the interactions I have had with God. When I read them it amazes me that I actually experienced. I was once saved from what could have been sure death! The second, Why did I ever become a creationist?, and then my book, The Joy of Winning With Christ. These describe, at least in part, the experience that I have had with my Maker. It is the experiences that I had, that has helped me make up my mind that God is real and that He loves even me!
The Speaking of Prophets
It is the author's viewpoint that the prophets spoke with their own words, the thoughts that they had. It is true that the Lord influenced them through specific messages, dreams, or a special urgency. But the prophets then had to formulate their own words, and at times, make conclusions and choices as they relayed the message that the Lord gave them, to the people. The Bible was not verbally inspired but that it was conceptually inspired. The Lord did not dictate messages to His prophets as a normal means of communication, instead He allowed His prophets to formulate the messages of God in their own words.
This means of communication by the various prophets, is especially apparent in the New Testament. Paul is clearly writing in his own words, letters to the various churches.
Infallibility and Freedom of Will
This communication process raises new questions concerning the accuracy of the Bible. If God alone is infallible, then what should we say concerning the words of His prophets and the Words of God's Holy Book, The Bible? Are they also infallible?
If God had chosen to dictate His word to the prophets of old, then the messages would have indeed been infallible. The words would have been just as infallible as its Author.
Now, I am not talking about how trustworthy the Holy Scriptures are. God has indeed kept His hand over what the prophets wrote. So, what we received from the Bible is fully trustworthy and dependable for doctrine and reproof etc.
However God chose instead to interact with His prophets in such a way that would actually require them to make their own decisions in choosing their own words. God chose to limit Himself by allowing His prophets to speak for Him. God seems to put a lot of effort into allowing and even forcing man to enter into decision making. Remember one of the great issues in the great controversy (the war between Christ and Satan) is our freedom of will, and our conscience. We can study the Time of Trouble (the time of sorrow) in the last days and see that the whole sequence of events is designed to force the populace into deciding whom they will serve. God is literally forcing people to use their decision-making abilities.
God gave us powers of reason not so we can be supplanted by His authority and wisdom; but, that we can choose to see and to understand for ourselves the wisdom that God would have for us. God wants us to praise His name with intelligence and wisdom. He does not want us to turn our brains off because there is no other choice.
It is interesting that Satan seems to take the opposite stance. We are surrounded by different mediums that are designed to make people mindless. Tools such as TV, Computer games, to outright possession where Satan takes outright control of the person in spite of the wishes of the victim. He does not care to have his servants (his prey) grow in ability and grace, he only wants to use them.
Instead, God wants us to increase our knowledge and understanding of Him. God also wants our understanding to be based upon our own experience. We are not just told what to believe; instead, we are encouraged to have an intimate knowledge and love for the things of God. He wants us to decide things for ourselves.
This freedom of choice is also seen to be important for God's own prophets. God not only wishes that they make their own choices but that their understanding of how to make choices be increased as well.
If God's work is to increase our powers of reason and choice, so that we could serve Him better; Would He not allow freedom of choice at every step of His communication with man? If prophets are a go-between for God and man, then would it not serve God to have them teach in the same way that He would teach us? Yes, I think so! If the heart of the prophet is to be in the work of God, would it not be better for the prophet himself to work and struggle in order to understand like the rest of us? The prophet will not do his best unless he himself decides on his own, to follow God with all his heart and mind. That means he will have to strive to come up with better ways of doing things. He will also have to strive to follow His Master.
A prime example that allows us to see this interaction between God and His prophet is in the story of Elijah, when he was forced to pray over and over for rain. When he saw the small cloud off in the distance he put two and two together and didn't wait for any more evidence. He put action into his faith and understanding. No this is not a simple dictation, God did not say at that time Elijah, I'm going to do it now. No, instead we see the prophets struggling as well as all the others. The big difference is in the degree of trust and devotion that the prophets has for God. Their experience was honest and real.
Read through the stories in the Old Testament. One of the reasons these stories were given to us, is so we can gain knowledge from their experience. We see them struggle and make mistakes. Hopefully we will be able to learn something from their mistakes. However, the truth of the matter is this: Those people had to learn of God by interacting with Him. The same is true for us! We also must do the same. We must learn of God through our own experiences. Everyone from the prophet to the lowest of persons learns best by their own involvement with God. This is the very same process that we can see in the stories of the Bible.
Because this is true, we can safely know that God's prophets are not infallible. But at the same time we also know that God has held His hand over what they wrote. God guided their learning of Him.
The Bible and its writers were inspired of God!
We especially must not forget that God has led His men, His prophets, and the writers of the Bible from start to finish. Man might err, but God does not. He is well able to make sure that the Bible is to have what is essential for our salvation. See what Peter said about Inspiration:
- For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
- For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
- And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
- We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
- Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
- For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:16-21.
God has made sure that we have not followed cunningly devised fables. We do have a more sure word of prophecy because what they wrote was not of their own private interpretation of things. The prophets wrote what they wrote because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit! So, we know that the message of the Bible is infallible because it is God Himself who inspired it. God made sure that the writers of the Bible understood God sufficiently so they could tell us who God really is. They did not come up with the ideas that they had, on their own. God inspired them and they wrote the things down in their own words.
So again, why would God choose to have the writers of the Bible write with their own words rather than having God Himself providing all aspects of the writing process? God must want us to have a deeper understanding of His Character from the Bible. How can God, who is infinitely more intellegent that we are, get the message across that He truly loves us. That He wants us to decide for our selves rather than wanting to force us into obedience like robots. Only by reading the stories of the Bible can we begin to gain the insights about God that we need. This process is not possible by simple dictation of what God wants us to know. God always seems to educate us by example.
The teaching found in the Bible is a light that can shine into the hearts of people. We are desperately wicked, and without God we live in a dark place that is destined for destruction. But it is the light of God who can change our sadness into happiness, our desperate situation, into avenues of hope! No other source of help can save us from the sure destruction that we face without Him. God is our only answer to our desperate life and death situation and He has communcated to us through the writings of the Bible, His wonderful message of hope of eternal life!
How do we Deal with a Bible That is Not Infallible?
If there are small inaccuracies in the stories in the Bible we can be assured that they are not really important. They are just small errors that the writers, copyiers, and translators have made.
Some people are very concerned how we will ever arrive at truth if our only source has inaccuracies in it? However, I would like to ask the question: Where will we find more accurate information to replace what we already have in the Bible?
There is absolutely no way that we can accurately know from today's knowledge what has happened in the past. Our knowledge is based on a host of assumptions (we have already discussed this problem involving the assumptions of scientific studies). Even scientific dating techniques such as carbon dating are based on assumptions. Any one of the assumptions could be wrong. How then can we be more accurate today about the early Earth than the early prophets who had a much closer connection with the actual events?
Today, we live in the age of critical thinking. In this age of critical thinking, so many of the arguments concerning Biblical history are the result of the different assumptions that are held by the various waring factions (or schools of thought).
For example, if one assumes that the flood was real and that it covered the whole Earth (a truly global event), then it is easy to understand how the story was written in the Bible. It really happened! Noah was only writing down the history that he himself was familiar with.
However, if it is assumed that the flood of Noah never occurred, or if it did, it only occurred in a small area in the world (in a local flooding event), then we might expect that Moses had probably copied the story of the flood from some other civilization. This idea of copying the story would be extremely popular, especially if it was seen that other civilizations had almost the same story long before Moses wrote his book, and also that the actual event which is thought to have happened, is seen as a local event. Of course, this is exactly the scenario that many believe has occurred in the past.
It is easy to see how our assumptions can lead us into different avenues of thought. If we start out with the wrong assumptions then our thinking is liable to be suspect. If we start out with assumptions that undermine the Bible then our faith and trust in this Book will be undermined, on the other hand, if we make assumptions that allow us to use the Bible; then, we will indeed receive help from God and our faith in God and His leading will grow!
Just because the Bible might not infallible does not mean we should start questioning everything or even anything! Just what would we change anyway! We are also not infallible. Would we be more accurate than the original prophets on these topics who was inspired by God?
On the other hand, we should be able to safely assume that God has had His hand on the prophets while they were writing. The Bible is God's gift to us through the prophets. If God wants His messages to come to us He must inspire His prophets. Yes, they wrote what they understood in their own words; however, we can rest assured that God was leading the whole process.
Lets say this in another way. The prophets of the Bible wrote the books with their own hands, so the words themselves are not infallible. However, I feel that God Himself was involved in the guiding of His prophets so that the right messages had to have come through in the books of the Bible. God did this for us! If the stories of the Bible are true, if what Jesus said when He was on our world, is true; then, we have to say that God must have led in the writing of God's Book.
Let's not base our eternal future on assumptions that could be wrong. We must have an experimental knowledge of God Himself. When we live all for Him, we will know from personal experience the truthfulness of His Word. It is through our experience of God's working in our lives that allows us to realize the truthfulness of these things.
In the Brown Bible, the World History Time Chart, and the harmony, the author is assuming that the dates, people, and their actions, as they are found in the Bible, are accurate and reliable. If we start rejecting the reliability of different portions of the Bible, where will that lead us? Who or what will lead us in these last days?
We will be like the blind leading the blind. In the trouble ahead of us we will need to have a faith in God and His Word that will never fail, that will stand without any wavering. How can this exist if we doubt the very existence of events described in the early books of the Bible?
If we choose not to believe the first books of the Bible what sort of decision will we make concerning Daniel and Revelation? If we question the creation and the flood, how are we going to keep from questioning Christ's second coming which is the greatest promise of the Bible? Instead of trying to understand the visions of prophecy that are designed to warn and bolster our faith, we will be seriously questing even the validity of the messages.
If we consider the assumptions that have to be made in order to discredit various parts of the Bible, we might never develop the close interaction with God that would allow us to understand these things as they are. The process of picking and choosing could lead the righteous into Satan's hands. We must have faith in the leading of God that His Bible is sufficient in leading us in the path of righteousness that will allow us to live with Him in Heaven.
The more acquainted I am with God and of His ways, the more I will want my life to revolve around Him. If we are to gain faith, and assurance about future events as described in Daniel and Revelation then we might want to choose the paradigm that allows us to appreciate prophecy more. If we have faith that God led in the writing of the Bible, that Genesis and Exodus are correct renditions of history, than our faith in God who gives us prophecy will also be stronger. Prophecy will mean more to us because we have faith in the process, in the way that God communicates to us.
Difficult Bible Questions Explained.
I don't believe that there are any errors in the Bible... at all. By saying this, you are placing a giant stumbling block for people that are just babes in Christ. Please forward me any small inaccuracies you believe are in any Bible stories.
Since you want me to show you a few of the small inaccuracies found in the Bible stories, here are a few of them:
When Jesus went out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (Matt 4:1-11 Mark 1:12-13 Luke 4:1-13), Matthew and Luke have a different order for the temptations. Which one is right? The second and third temptations are switched. Matthew has Satan tempting Jesus to throw Himself down off the temple first before asking Him to worship him on the mountain. Luke has Satan tempting Jesus to worship him on the mountain before asking Him to throw Himself down off the temple.
The issue of who will be the greatest was being argued by the disciples (Matt 18:1-5 Mark 9:33-37 Luke 9:46-48)
In Matthew, he says the disciples actually came to Jesus and asked: "Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" But in Mark, the disciples would not talk to Jesus about it. Jesus had to ask his disciples because they would not talk to Him. So He had to ask: "'What were you arguing among yourselves on the way?' But they were silent, for they had disputed one with another on the way about who was the greatest."
Luke just says that Jesus, perceived the reasoning of their hearts and began to talk to them.
So did Jesus have to ask His disciples what they were talking about only to have them fall silent or did His disciple come to Jesus to ask Him "who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"
When Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, James and John; the story told by the Gospel writers are different from each other.
Again which writer is correct? (Matt 4:18-22 Mark 1:16-20 Luke 5:1-11)
Luke's account is somewhat different from Matthew and Mark's account. In Luke, Jesus preaches to the multitude and He sees both boats at once. All the fishermen are washing their nets and He goes on one of the boats to separate Himself from the people while He preaches. All four men, Peter and his brother Andrew, and also James and John are involved with the miracle.
In Matthew and Mark's account Peter and Andrew are both casting their nets into the sea and Jesus only interacts with them first. Then later, as they walk a little farther, Jesus interacts with James and John.
These are some of the errors that we can detect by looking at the differences between the different Gospel writers. It shows us that these people were going on their memory as to what happened. Remember, God is having the Bible writers write what they have experienced themselves, and they did that by using their own words. After all, it was their own experience!
Again, these are just small inaccuracies in the stories and they do not change the wonderful message of the Gospel and the soon coming of Jesus to take His people to Heaven.
And again, rather than causing unbelief, these differences we find in the accounts should inspire us because we can know that they are genuine accounts. They are not fake! But more important, these differences show us how God works with members of the human family. God wishes for each one of us to grow into the likeness of Christ. They are not being told what to do or say; But God teaches each one of us and gives us the abilities to be like Christ.