“It’s just a religious book written by religious people and is no more or less important than another religion’s sacred texts.”
These were the words shocking my young, collegiate brain as I sat in a class whose subject was the history of world civilizations. And on the surface the argument makes sense: every major religion has some kind of guiding book and usually some kind of teacher/leader whose life and words that guiding book holds. Why should Christianity’s guiding book be any more special than anyone else’s?
Maybe you’ve had friends or coworkers expressing similar thoughts. Perhaps they think the Bible has some good qualities but they’ve expressed reservation in accepting it as “the Word of God”. Alternatively, maybe they think it contains good stories about morality but was actually never meant to be taken literally. I’m not naïve: this may describe some of you reading these words right now!
And then we’re confronted with passages in the Bible like 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
There clearly seems to be a disconnect between our culture’s idea that all these sacred writings are on equal ground and the Bible’s claim that it’s head and shoulders above any other.
“But wait, Joel,” some of you might be thinking, “That passage states ‘All Scripture is God-breathed’. That means there could be things in the Bible that are Scripture (and therefore God-breathed) and things in the Bible that are not Scripture (and therefore not God-breathed).”
I’ll agree that you could make that argument (I don’t agree with it, but I see where you get it), but it’s completely foreign to what Paul was writing to young Timothy. He was writing to assure Timothy of the Scripture’s trustworthiness, not to make the young pastor question whether what he was taught since childhood was true or not.
Quite the contrary, we’re told that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for changing our behavior as we pursue the likeness of Jesus in our lives. There’s not doubt here, but confidence that these words will change our lives! How could the older, wiser Apostle Paul tell young Pastor Timothy these words are useful for teaching, rebuking, etc. if there was doubt as to the validity or veracity of these words?
Clearly, Paul didn’t know of such a distinction as “real Scripture” verses “not so real Scripture” in the Bible. To Him, and all of the people of God throughout the ages, the Words in our Bibles are God’s love letter to humanity, telling of how He has been chasing us to woe us to Him and save us from sin.
Over the next several weeks, we’re going to explore the trustworthiness of the Bible because anything and everything we know about God is based, expounded, and verified through the Bible.