Were The Books Of The Bible Chosen By Men?

A reason many people choose to disregard the Bible is that they believe that  it was written by man, not inspired by God and assembled by man, not discovered by the Church.  This short article will confront the second charge.

The accusation is not new; it has existed long before Dan Brown popularized it in his novel, “The DaVinci Code”.  The belief follows that the books of the Bible were chosen by attendees of the Council of Nicea in 325 AD under the insidious direction of emperor Constantine.  Officials allegedly picked and discarded writings based on their own judgment with authority given to them by membership on the council. But this isn’t what happened at all.

There is absolutely no evidence that canonicity of the New Testament was decided in THIS council or ANY council or in THIS way, PERIOD.  The agenda of the Council is well-documented and dealt with issues like: on what day to celebrate Easter and construction of the Nicene Creed, and debate over the Divinity of Christ (The Arian Controversy).  

The benefit for the skeptic in using this false narrative is that a man-made Holy Book would bear the limitations of all things man-made.  The content of Scripture could have been decided by prejudice or chosen advantageously by those seeking control of the populace. The latter is a common atheist charge to this day.  Given credibility, a vast inventory of human foibles lay open for modern day deniers of God from which to pick their favorite.  

However, there are answers.

No, the process of gathering our biblical texts was not a simple popularity contest for ancient writings, driven by personal whim and politics.  Instead, the Canon, a word coming from the Greek, meaning “rule” or “measuring stick”, is a list of affirmed books that had served as foundational to our faith up to that point.  In fact, any participation by any council was only involved to the extent that it merely declared the way things had been and not the way they wanted them to be.  This was done using the specific criteria provided below.

Geisler and Nix, in their book “From God To Us”, list five basic criteria for discovering the canonicity of the New Testament books:  

  1. Is the book authoritative—does it claim to be of God?
  2. Is it prophetic—was it written by a servant of God?
  3. Is it authentic—does it tell the truth about God, man, etc.?
  4. Is the book dynamic—does it possess the life-transforming power of God?
  5. Is this book received or accepted by the people of God for whom it was originally written—is it recognized as being from God?

Bible scholar Michael Kruger encourages every Christian to memorize this basic fact (and nine others, linked below) about the forming of the New Testament canon.  To battle these false ideas of skeptics and keep Holy scripture in its proper place, the Church must understand that the New Testament canon was “the result of many years of God’s people reading, using, and responding to these books”.

God Bless.

Sources:

Geisler and Nix. “From God To Us:  How We Got Our Bible”. Page 67.

The Bible Is The Word Of God?

The Bible is a book written over the course of fifteen hundred years by more than forty authors.  Christian apologist, Josh McDowell writes that these authors were kings, military leaders, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, tax collectors, poets, musicians, statesmen, scholars, and shepherds.  The Bible was written in many different places, like out in the wilderness, dungeons, prison, while traveling, and while in exile. It was written during wars and times of peace and by scribes on three different continents and in three different languages.  Different literary styles. Yet, it manages to tell ONE cohesive story throughout the history of the canon. And still, people will question how do we know it is the word of God.

Well, if what said above doesn’t convince someone, is there another way to demonstrate this uniqueness of scripture?  Can we show somehow that these authors and their works are connected in some way? Yes. The answer is by fulfilled prophecy.

However, in most instances, we don’t have the time or the memory to run through the many examples of the successful fulfillment of prophecy.  But maybe we can memorize one example. An especially strong one. Let’s try a method that I learned from a friend on Facebook. Below, I posted a short sample dialogue to guide a potential conversation:

Unbeliever:  “How do you know the Bible is the word of God?”

Believer:  “Great question!  Before I answer you though, can I ask you a question?”

Unbeliever:  “Okay. I guess.”

Believer:  “If I described a situation by saying ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ or ‘they pierced my hands and feet’ or ‘they divided my clothes and gambled for my garments’, if I said those things to you, what do you think I would be describing?

Unbeliever:  “Well, sounds like you are describing The Crucifixion.  So what?”

Believer:  “Very good.  I am.  But I am not quoting Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John where the story of The Crucifixion is usually told.  I am quoting Psalm 22. A Psalm dated about one thousand years before the event of The Crucifixion. How would you explain that?”

Unbeliever:  “Right. But the Bible writers knew about this Psalm ahead of time, right?  They could just add these details in to make their story sound convincing. Couldn’t they?”

Believer:  “Well, not really in this instance.”

Unbeliever:  “Why not?”

Believer:  “These details are unlikely additions because crucifixion, as a method of execution, did not exist one thousand years before Christ. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300-400BC and developed, during Roman times, into a punishment for the most serious of criminals.   The Israelites executed people by stoning them, not nailing them to a cross.  King David, the psalmist, further describes one being able to ‘count all my bones’ (v.17) and being ‘poured out like water’ (v.14) and their bones being ‘out of joint’ (v14).  These references to The Cross would have made zero sense to a first century Jew until The Messiah was crucified. Apart from the work of an all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal God, how would you account for this?”

I am honestly not sure what the unbeliever would say to that.  But this is one step, maybe just a small one, we can take as a body of believers to move the skeptic toward the truth of the Gospel.  Maybe this explanation removes a barrier or stumbling block that kept this person from coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

May we lovingly engage these people whenever we find them. God Bless.