Bible Misconceptions

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  10/10/2014Don’t Get Mixed Up by These Bible Misconceptions by Mark Driscoll - - Christian Leadership Blogs, Articles, Videos, How To'… Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Don’t Get Mixed Up by These BibleMisconceptions by Mark DriscollProvided byEmail Share On Facebook Twitter “How can you trust the Bible when it’s been translated so many times?” “Isn’t the Bible full of mistakes and contradictions?” Pastor Mark Driscoll debunks eight common misconceptions about the Bible in this fourth installment ohis blog series, which provides a guided tour of topics such as what is the Bible , where the Bible came from and how to interpret the Bible. Over the years, I’ve come across many misconceptions about the Bible.Some of these are due to rampant biblical illiteracy, and others to simple misunderstandings about howthe Bible was copied and transmitted over the years.Many misconceptions about the Bible can be cleared up simply by learning how to interpret the Bible, butsome require a more detailed response. In this post, I’ll briefly look at some common misconceptions. 1. “You can’t trust the Bible because it’s been translated somany times.” This misconception assumes that we don’t have an abundance of manuscript evidence in languages suchas Greek and Hebrew supporting the Bible. As a result, it makes the added assumption that the Bible mayhave started out in some srcinal ancient languages a long time ago, but has since been translated andretranslated over and over again into so many different languages that we can’t trust it anymore.This is simply not true. We have access to literally thousands of manuscripts and fragments that are usedin translating the Bible, not a long chain of degraded translations. 2. “The Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions.” This misconception is usually just thrown out without any supporting evidence.Always ask for a specific example when you encounter this misconception. But be prepared, becausesome people may have specifics or even several examples, and you’ll want to know how to respond.In reality, though, to say the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions usually stems from a lack of understanding of the principles of biblical interpretation. Many capable scholars have addressed questions about Bible difficulties. 3. “You can make the Bible say whatever you want it tosay.”  10/10/2014Don’t Get Mixed Up by These Bible Misconceptions by Mark Driscoll - - Christian Leadership Blogs, Articles, Videos, How To'… This only applies if one takes a relaxed view of Scripture, such as a relativistic attitude that rejects thatthe author had real intent and meaning.Also, if we treat the Bible fairly in our interpretation, following the basic principles of hermeneutics, thenwe can’t make it say what we want it to say.I once heard a seminary professor say that the Golden Rule of interpretation is, “Seek to interpret a text just as you would like others to interpret your words, whether written or spoken.”  4. “The Bible says … ” This misconception claims the Bible says something specific, when it really doesn’t.As an example, some will state that the Bible says, “God helps those who helps themselves.” Sorry, thatwas Ben Franklin, not the Bible. Some will claim the Bible supports the abuse of women, that itencourages slavery or some other major allegation. There’s a long list of things people say the Biblesupports when, in reality, it doesn’t. 5. “Power-hungry church councils decided what to includein the Bible.” The idea is that at some point, usually much later than the time of the New Testament, church councilsmet and included whatever books and ideas in the Bible would best help consolidate their own power. Thisis simply false.Church councils formalized and officially recognized writings that God’s people had already accepted andused as inspired Scripture for hundreds of years, in the case of the New Testament, and thousands of years in the case of the Old Testament. Some of these councils include the Council of Laodicea (A.D.363); the Council of Hippo (A.D. 393); and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397). Church councils simplyacknowledged the Scriptures that were already known and trusted by Christians everywhere. 6. “The New Testament was written hundreds of yearsafter the time of Jesus.” The implication of this misconception is that so much time passed between the writing of the Bible andthe actual events it records that there’s no way it could be accurate. Supposedly, the gap between thereality and the writing allowed ample time for corruption, legends and even myths to develop.In actuality, the time between the New Testament events and when they were recorded is very short,especially when compared with other ancient documents. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, for instance, withinabout 25 years of Jesus’ life. That’s not enough time for myth or legend to develop, because eye-witnesses were still living and would have objected to what Paul wrote and the church taught if it washistorically inaccurate.The earliest surviving manuscript fragment of the New Testament, from the Gospel of John, dates toabout A.D. 130. That’s very close to when John actually wrote his Gospel, between A.D. 70–100. Andalthough it’s still being verified, New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace reports that a fragment from Markmay very well be dated to the first century, making it an even earlier fragment than the one from John. 7. “The Bible is an old, outdated list of rules that no longer  10/10/2014Don’t Get Mixed Up by These Bible Misconceptions by Mark Driscoll - - Christian Leadership Blogs, Articles, Videos, How To'… Please Note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, uncivil andoff-topic. Read a detailed description of our Comments Policy. apply.” While the Bible is old, it is definitely not outdated.Not only is it filled with practical wisdom, but it lays out God’s plan of redemption for humanity. Itsinsights are timeless, relevant and useful in everyday life.A quick reading of Proverbs, for example, will yield much wisdom and timeless advice. 8. “The Bible excluded other, more accurate, manuscripts.” Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code  popularized the idea that there were srcinally numerous competing “gospels,” and church leaders chose their favorites.Supposedly, the four Gospels in the New Testament are biased, and in reality there were dozens ormaybe even hundreds of other gospels to choose from. You’ll hear about the Gospel of Thomas, theGospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Philip or even the Gospel of Judas. Occasionally, these “other gospels” get a burst of media attention, as though they somehow seal the doom of the New Testament.There are three lines of evidence that argue against the reliability of these other “gospels.” First, the manuscript evidence for them is terrible, especially compared to the manuscript evidence for theNew Testament Gospels.Second, all of these other writings were written down much later than the New Testament.Third, the ideas they present are often completely foreign to what the New Testament Gospels are about,sometimes offering up advice that is just plain bizarre.In the case of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, it’s not even in the style of the New Testament Gospels,instead serving as a sort of collection of sayings. Some of the material is orthodox, while other parts arestrange and outlandish. For example, in Saying 114 of the Gospel of Thomas, Peter supposedly says, “Women are not worthy of life.” Jesus responds not by clearing up Peter’s mistake, but by saying he,Jesus, will make the woman into a man so she can then enter the kingdom of heaven. That hardly soundslike the gospel we see throughout the rest of Scripture.When it is rightly understood and wisely interpreted, we can be confident that the Bible is accurate,reliable and trustworthy.The Bible is uniquely and solely God’s completely trustworthy revelation to us today. Print versionPastor Mark Driscoll is the Preaching and Speaking pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He is one of theworld’s most downloaded and quoted pastors. His audience—fans and critics alike—spans the theologicaland cultural left and right. Follow his updates at from Mark Driscoll or visit Mark at
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