Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Which Bible is the "Word of God"?

The belief that the Bible is consistent and inerrant is based on the belief that it is the Word of God. "If it is God's Word, then it must be consistent and inerrant". The logic would make sense if, in fact, the Creator of the Universe actually wrote the Bible and hand delivered to us. This did not happen. Rather, the Bible was written by human beings, who may or may not have been divinely inspired.

It is the assumption that the writers of scripture got it completely right, directly from God, that creates a deep divide between liberal and conservative Christians.

There are a number of problems with the view that the Bible is the Word of God, as opposed to it being a book that contains the Word of God. The first has to do with the question... "Which Bible do you mean?"

There does not exist one Bible.

Which Bible is the Word of God? There are more than two dozen versions. Some are more popular than others, but there is not one version that is the recognized one and only Word of God. It all depends on which denomination you belong to and what period of history you happened to live in.

Certainly, if you are a Protestant Christian the Church of England's King James Bible (1611 to the present) would seem to be the version of choice. That version, however, wouldn't work for Roman Catholics. Catholics might prefer the Jerusalem Bible (1966). If you were a Catholic a few centuries ago, you may have opted for the Rheims-Douay Bible (1582-1610). There's the New American Standard (1971) and the Living Bible (1972). There's the New World Translation (1950-60), with 13% more words. There's the New International Version (1978). The list can on and on.

Which group of human beings who voted on Bible canon throughout history got it right? Which group was divinely inspired and which was not? It all depends... but it shouldn't. If the Bible is the Word of God, then there should be one authoritative Bible for all time. If the Bible is perfect, then there is no need for toying with it. If the words contained within are sacred, then they should not be revised and re-edited.

It is the endless revisions, re-editing, translations, and re-interpretations that diminish the argument that the Bible is the Word of God, and that it is thus inerrant. The more humans tinker with the Bible, the more you realize that this book is a human product. There is no doubt that the Bible contains the Word of God. However, it is not the only source of this wisdom and truth.

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