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How do we determine whether the Bible is the Word of God?

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  • How do we determine whether the Bible is the Word of God?

    Not sure if this is the best sub-forum but hey ho.

    I'm from a Protestant background and recently came across a Roman Catholic argument that we could determine that the scriptures were highly reliable using the standard tools of history and logic but it couldn't tell us that they were the inspired Word of God. The article claimed that they only way we can be sure that it is the Word of God because the Church (capital C for a reason) was founded by Christ so has the authority to declare it to be so. However this still doesn't answer the fundamental epistemological question of how does one move from solid truthful documents to the inspired Word of God.

    My tentative suggestion is that prophets of God are accompanied with signs and wonders to declare they're God's agent however we would likley only have the testimony of the prophet to distinguish between what were his words alone and those inspired by God.

    Any thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Well the bible actually claims the scriptures are inspired by God.

    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Sparko View Post
      Well the bible actually claims the scriptures are inspired by God.

      2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
      It does but without externally verifying that those particular scriptures are in fact the Word of God any claim of that form is circular.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Physiocrat View Post
        It does but without externally verifying that those particular scriptures are in fact the Word of God any claim of that form is circular.
        You just said "we could determine that the scriptures were highly reliable using the standard tools of history and logic" - so if you can trust what they say, and they say they were inspired by God then you can trust it was inspired by God. The Church just saying it was inspired by God doesn't make it so either you know. You are relying on the trustworthiness of the Church, of which they claim they are trustworthy. Ultimately it is all "circular" but you can check the veracity of the claim of the bible by various means like hundreds of prophesies coming true. How else would that happen if God didn't inspire the scriptures or at least the people writing them?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sparko View Post
          You just said "we could determine that the scriptures were highly reliable using the standard tools of history and logic" - so if you can trust what they say, and they say they were inspired by God then you can trust it was inspired by God. The Church just saying it was inspired by God doesn't make it so either you know. You are relying on the trustworthiness of the Church, of which they claim they are trustworthy. Ultimately it is all "circular" but you can check the veracity of the claim of the bible by various means like hundreds of prophesies coming true. How else would that happen if God didn't inspire the scriptures or at least the people writing them?
          The prophecy angle certainly has mileage but that is only possible from a future event looking into the past. I think my real question is how do we distinguish true words and inspired ones?

          Suppose, you were living in the 1st century AD how would you determine that the gospel of John was not just accurate but the word of God? If it's just the former it could always be open to error and you approach it differently to the Word of God.

          Also everything is circular is untrue. Certain propositions cannot be denied without self-contradiction which provides a non-circular foundation for epistemology

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Physiocrat View Post
            The prophecy angle certainly has mileage but that is only possible from a future event looking into the past. I think my real question is how do we distinguish true words and inspired ones?
            The bible says "all scripture" is inspired and true. Every test we have shows that to be verified. The prophesies coming true verify it. History verifies it. If it is all true, and the bible says it is inspired, then that must be true. Simple logic. You either have faith in that or you don't. There is no absolute proof. The church has no special magical ability to claim the bible was revealed from God any more than anything else does. Why should you believe the Church over the bible itself? What is the Church's basis for claiming the scriptures are inspired? and what is the evidence for that?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sparko View Post
              Well the bible actually claims the scriptures are inspired by God.

              2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
              This would be helpful if it actually identified what was considered scripture. It's probably safe to say that it included the 22 books identified by Josephus (= the 39 books of the OT Protestant canon), but we are on much shakier ground concerning the NT; if Paul wrote 2 Timothy (which I grant but many scholars do not), then some of the NT was not even written yet when this was penned. It is fairly obviously the church (likely basing its decision at least in part on this passage) which determined which books were considered scripture. Some books were considered useful, but ended up outside the canon (which never was formally ratified by the church1), such as the Apocrypha, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Protevangelion of James, etc.


              1. The earliest surviving list of NT books which matches our current Bible was penned in 367 (IIRC) by Archbishop Athanasius of Alexandria in private correspondence. The only church council of which I'm aware that specified the OT books was the Council of Trent, which failed to represent most of Christendom.
              Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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              I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                The bible says "all scripture" is inspired and true. Every test we have shows that to be verified. The prophesies coming true verify it. History verifies it. If it is all true, and the bible says it is inspired, then that must be true. Simple logic. You either have faith in that or you don't. There is no absolute proof. The church has no special magical ability to claim the bible was revealed from God any more than anything else does. Why should you believe the Church over the bible itself? What is the Church's basis for claiming the scriptures are inspired? and what is the evidence for that?
                I'm not defending the Catholic view- I criticised it on the grounds that the Church must have reasons for including certain books in the canon and the question is what grounds are they.

                I think your strongest point is that the Bible is accurate and that it claims to be God's word. If it's accurate in all ascertainable respects and claims to be God's word gives good grounds for believing that it is.

                There is the difficulty for those at the time however determining the truth of what is written as the other commenter states (sorry, on phone and can't see your name). This is where signs and wonders and personal endorsement by Jesus comes into play

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Physiocrat View Post
                  I'm not defending the Catholic view- I criticised it on the grounds that the Church must have reasons for including certain books in the canon and the question is what grounds are they.

                  I think your strongest point is that the Bible is accurate and that it claims to be God's word. If it's accurate in all ascertainable respects and claims to be God's word gives good grounds for believing that it is.

                  There is the difficulty for those at the time however determining the truth of what is written as the other commenter states (sorry, on phone and can't see your name). This is where signs and wonders and personal endorsement by Jesus comes into play
                  Also remember the bible isn't a single book by a single author so it isn't a single source verifying a single source. It is 66 books by around 40 different people.

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                  • #10
                    You might be interested in reading "The Canon of Scripture" by F.F. Bruce.

                    Blessings,
                    Lee
                    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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                    • #11
                      Even if we didn't have the scriptures we could understand God from nature. This is called "general revelation."

                      Rom 1:19* Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.*
                      Rom 1:20* For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:*

                      God has given His message through creation.

                      Psa 19:1* To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.*
                      Psa 19:2* Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.*
                      Psa 19:3* There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.*
                      Psa 19:4* Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,*

                      God has given His message (Gospel) in scripture. This is called "special revelation." (2 Tim 3:16)

                      Christ is the Word of God (John 1:14) and the wisdom of God (1 Co 1:24).

                      If scripture is the word of God, then it shouldn't be different from that given through nature, or else it is another gospel.

                      Gal 1:8* But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.*
                      Gal 1:9* As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.*

                      That's my understanding of it. The proof is philosophical rather than based on history.
                      666 And The Name

                      http://https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D1M48M4/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1594855398&refinements=p_2 7%3AAlan+Fuller&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&text=Alan+Fuller

                      https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypticwisdom/

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Physiocrat View Post
                        Not sure if this is the best sub-forum but hey ho.

                        I'm from a Protestant background and recently came across a Roman Catholic argument that we could determine that the scriptures were highly reliable using the standard tools of history and logic but it couldn't tell us that they were the inspired Word of God. The article claimed that they only way we can be sure that it is the Word of God because the Church (capital C for a reason) was founded by Christ so has the authority to declare it to be so. However this still doesn't answer the fundamental epistemological question of how does one move from solid truthful documents to the inspired Word of God.
                        We don't, and the Church doesn't.
                        The Bible has its own rule for determining whether its content is true and from God (two authors attesting the same thing as fact). ** NOTE ** the rule isn't as hard and fast as I made it seem here.

                        One - and only one - passage, that of 2 Timothy 3:16, declares "all scripture" to have been inspired by God, and the translation is highly questionable.

                        My tentative suggestion is that prophets of God are accompanied with signs and wonders to declare they're God's agent however we would likley only have the testimony of the prophet to distinguish between what were his words alone and those inspired by God.
                        Signs and wonders accompany the accurate presentation of a matter as being from God - they don't so much attest to the messenger. For that you need the presence of the fruits of the Spirit more than the gifts.
                        Last edited by tabibito; 10-26-2017, 09:56 AM.
                        sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by eschaton View Post
                          Even if we didn't have the scriptures we could understand God from nature. This is called "general revelation."

                          Rom 1:19* Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.*
                          Rom 1:20* For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:*

                          God has given His message through creation.

                          Psa 19:1* To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.*
                          Psa 19:2* Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.*
                          Psa 19:3* There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.*
                          Psa 19:4* Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,*

                          God has given His message (Gospel) in scripture. This is called "special revelation." (2 Tim 3:16)

                          Christ is the Word of God (John 1:14) and the wisdom of God (1 Co 1:24).

                          If scripture is the word of God, then it shouldn't be different from that given through nature, or else it is another gospel.

                          Gal 1:8* But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.*
                          Gal 1:9* As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.*

                          That's my understanding of it. The proof is philosophical rather than based on history.
                          So what your saying is that the God we know from general revelation is consistent with the God of the scriptures? I think that's certainly a fruitful way of inquiry but the problem would be to distinguish truths about God and explicit truths from God.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tabibito View Post
                            We don't, and the Church doesn't.
                            The Bible has its own rule for determining whether its content is true and from God (two authors attesting the same thing as fact). ** NOTE ** the rule isn't as hard and fast as I made it seem here.

                            One - and only one - passage, that of 2 Timothy 3:16, declares "all scripture" to have been inspired by God, and the translation is highly questionable.



                            Signs and wonders accompany the accurate presentation of a matter as being from God - they don't so much attest to the messenger. For that you need the presence of the fruits of the Spirit more than the gifts.
                            So do you think the Bible is the word of God?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              According to Matthew, Jesus' paternal grandfather (Joseph's father) was named Jacob.
                              According to Luke, Jesus' paternal grandfather was Heli.
                              There are mistakes in the Bible here and there which disclose the fact that not everything in the Bible is controlled by God.
                              So - the Bible contains inspired scripture, assuredly. It might even mostly be inspired scripture;
                              but not all of the Bible's scripture is inspired by God.
                              sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

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