Bart Erhman bought a huge lie from the start, that only the “originals” were inspired scripture. The important scripture on inspiration, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, makes it clear that the Bible scrolls that Timothy had learned from his youth, copies of copies of copies, were actually scripture and carried that inspiration given by God! Those verses are not talking about some long-ago-perished originals.
Second, Ehrman was taught not to look for God’s preserved words among the thousands of almost identical manuscripts and the Bibles of persecuted believers. He was pushed to try to find God’s words among a handful of contradictory manuscripts written by Greek philosophy-loving “scholars” like Origen —a journey doomed from the start.
But you don’t have to fall by the wayside, as in the tragic case of Bart Ehrman. You can have God’s preserved words in English, the King James Bible, a Book that carries that same inspiration as the originals did —from exact copies and accurate translations. You don’t have to say, “Yea, hath God said?” You can declare, “Thus saith the Lord!” The choice is yours.
The Bible is the foundation of Christianity. Without the Bible, Christianity would not exist. When I make statements like this, some Christians remind me that Christianity started with Jesus and his disciples, not the Bible.
Certainly Christianity started with Jesus and his disciples, but we must not forget they had a foundational religious text, the Old Testament. All of the Abrahamic religions have foundational religious texts. While an argument can be made for there being multiple Christianities in the Bible, be it the Jesus sect or the Paul sect, all of them find their roots in the soil of the Bible. I can not imagine any way Christianity exists apart from the Bible.
There is an increasing number of people who call themselves Christians that want to hang on to Jesus but reject the teachings of the Bible. Some reject the parts of the Bible that offend their moral sense, others reject the Bible completely, I am at a loss to understand how it is possible to believe in Jesus and not accept the Bible, to some degree or another, as a divine, authoritative text.
While I think people are free to believe whatever they want to believe, I question whether a Christianity without the Bible is Christianity at all. At best, they have a spiritualized Jesus but, again, what kind of Jesus is this without the Bible?
Evangelical Christianity is a text-based religion. The sixty-six books that make up the Christian Bible is the foundation of Evangelical Christianity. Remove this foundation and the Evangelical house comes crashing down.
When Evangelicals deconvert it is almost always due to a loss of belief in what is claimed for the Bible. As I have said many times, my deconversion came about because I came to see that the Bible was not what Christianity claimed it was.
What claims do Evangelicals make for the Bible?
All Evangelicals believe the Bible is inspired by God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2 Peter 1:20-21 says:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
The phrase, given by inspiration of God , is one Greek word, theopneustos (heh-op’-nyoo-stos). The word inspiration means, God breathed. The Evangelical believes the Bible was breathed out, given life by Jehovah. Therefore, the Bible is considered a supernatural book spoken forth from the very mouth of God. It is a book unlike any other book ever written. It is the only book written by God himself.
Evangelicals hold varying opinions to “exactly” what is inspired by God. Some Evangelicals believe only the original manuscripts of the various books of the Bible are inspired. However, the original manuscripts no longer exist. The extant manuscripts are copies of copies of copies of the original manuscripts, or so the theory goes since there are NO originals to compare the copies to.
When Evangelicals read the Old Testament they assume they are reading a text that dates back to the beginning of the human race, six thousand years ago. Little do they know that the Old Testament text is not as old as they think. As you can see from the Wikipedia table below, the extant Old Testament manuscripts are dated thousands of years after God supposedly created Adam and Eve.
The New Testament fares no better. As Wikipedia makes clear, most of the extant manuscripts of the New Testament were written a thousand years after the death of Jesus. :
Parts of the New Testament have been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, having over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian. The dates of these manuscripts range from c. 125 (the John Ryland’s manuscript, P52; oldest copy of John fragments) to the introduction of printing in Germany in the 15th century. The vast majority of these manuscripts date after the 10th century. Although there are more manuscripts that preserve the New Testament than there are for any other ancient writing, the exact form of the text preserved in these later, numerous manuscripts may not be identical to the form of the text as it existed in antiquity. Textual scholar Bart Ehrman writes: “It is true, of course, that the New Testament is abundantly attested in the manuscripts produced through the ages, but most of these manuscripts are many centuries removed from the originals, and none of them perfectly accurate. They all contain mistakes – altogether many thousands of mistakes. It is not an easy task to reconstruct the original words of the New Testament….”
No two manuscripts are the same. It is estimated that there are over 400,000 variations among the manuscripts. There are more variations than there are words in the New Testament.
When Paul wrote to Timothy, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, what Scripture did he have in mind? It couldn’t have been the New Testament because it didn’t yet exist. Paul was clearly speaking of the Old Testament when he wrote of a God inspired text. While 2 Timothy 3:16 is used as a proof text for the entire sixty-six books of the Bible being inspired by God, such a claim can not be sustained if the verse is understood in its historical context.
Many Evangelicals attempt to address the above mentioned problems with inspiration by saying that God has supernaturally preserved the Bible through the centuries. This is a faith claim since there is no evidence that God preserved the text of the Bible. In fact, based on the extant manuscripts and the plethora of Bible translations, it could be argued that God deliberately tried to hide or obfuscate his inspired words.
On the extreme end of the Evangelical spectrum are Christians who believe a particular translation of the Bible is inspired, having been preserved by God down through the centuries.
One of the most amazing testimonies to Scripture’s truth is its preservation over thousands of years, despite sometimes intense efforts to destroy it.
Jesus Christ made an amazing prophesy about this preservation of His Word: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mark 13:31; also Matthew 24:35). He believed that God’s Word is indestructible (“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle [small mark in Hebrew lettering] of the law to fail” Luke 16:17).
Moreover, Jesus believed His words would spread around the world: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14); “the gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10). And that is what we find today. God’s Word has been preserved.
The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947 confirmed that we still have the same Old Testament as they did at Jesus’s day. The survival of thousands of New Testament manuscripts confirms that the New Testament writings were also providentially preserved. The question among textual scholars is not whether some words are missing, but which variant readings, in a few minor cases, are the correct ones…
…The Bible has not only been preserved, but translated into over two thousand languages (both ancient and modern). Many of the earliest surviving manuscripts include translations, such as Syriac versions, showing that God’s Word was spreading from the very beginning, and the words of its message have been preserved in many languages.
John Burgeon, a 19th century defender of the Bible wrote:
If you and I believe that the original writings of the Scriptures were verbally inspired by God, then of necessity they must have been providentially preserved through the ages.
Jack Moorman, a British defender of the King James Bible wrote that believing in the preservation of the Bible requires faith. Moorman states:
Like all other Bible truths, the Scripture’s teaching on its own preservation is to be in the first instance accepted by faith. Edward F. Hills in his outstanding book, The King James Version Defended calls it “the logic of faith.” The facts and evidence of such preservation will then follow.
What Moorman seems to be saying is this, if you look at the inspiration and preservation of the Bible solely on rational grounds, it will not make sense, but if you have FAITH it all makes sense.
In other words, just take our word for it.
Most Evangelical church members believe the Bible translation they read from and their pastor preaches from is without error. Pastors are quite dishonest when they do not tell church members that this is not true.
Outside of pastors who are King James Only, most Evangelicals pastors believe the original manuscripts were inerrant and the translations we now have are faithful and reliable but not inerrant.
Many Evangelical pastors will make a claim of partial inerrancy. They believe, when it comes to salvation and the core doctrines of the Christian faith, the translations now in use are indeed inerrant. Any errors found in the Bible do not affect the core teachings of the Bible, so the errors are not a concern to them.
Of course, Evangelical pastors have no way of knowing this. How can they know what is inerrant and what is not not? This is a faith claim that usually comes down to inerrancy being applied to whatever part of the Biblical text the pastor thinks is important.
Is it the pastor or the professor’s place to decide what is important and not important in the Bible? If the Scripture is God-breathed, is it not the height of arrogance for a pastor or professor to suggest that some parts of the Bible are less inspired, less important? If God is perfect in all his ways, it stands to reason, that a perfect God inspired a perfect text and that this perfect text would say exactly what God meant it to say.
I can think of no way to maintain the integrity of the Evangelical belief about the Bible and, at the same time, say a verse or passage of Scripture is errant, fallible, mistaken, or not important. Is this not tantamount to what the Serpent said to Eve in the Garden of Eden, Yea hath God said. (Genesis 3)
The authority for everything the Evangelical believes and practices rests on the notion that the Bible is the inspired, preserved, and inerrant Word of God. Without this belief, the entire Evangelical house comes crashing down.
Steven Anderson is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, a church that is:
We are a local New Testament church reaching the Phoenix area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t expect anything contemporary or liberal. We are an old-fashioned, independent, fundamental, King James Bible only, soul-winning Baptist church.
Every Sodomite in the Bible is a rapist or molester. The Bible tells three sickening stories about Sodomites and every one of the three stories involves someone being violated against their will.
…Probably the most blatant form of hypocrisy among Baptists in our day is the television found in their living room or bedroom. The television brings into their house images and sounds of everything ungodly and wicked that they are supposedly against. In their own houses they are delighting in the entertainment of this world which is diametrically opposed to the things of God. In the following paragraphs are several examples illustrating why no Christian should watch any kind of TV, Satellite, or Cable programming…
…Most independent Baptists would agree that rock, rap, and other forms of worldly music are unacceptable for Christians. However, we could enter the home of the typical Baptist pastor and hear the cacophony of the most hardcore rock music imaginable. “What in the world is the pastor listening to?!?!” But then we realize, “Ohhh, whew, it’s just the television. I was worried there for a minute!”
This is a prime example of the leaven of the Pharisees – hypocrisy. If it is unacceptable to listen to rock music on your stereo, then why would it be allowable to listen to the same rock music through the speakers of your television? The fact alone that worldly music is wrong for the child of God excludes about 95% of television programs and commercials…
…If we as independent Baptists want to be consistent with what we preach, there is really no way we can watch television. If we preach against rock music, immodest clothing, homosexuality, divorce, fornication, wrong role models, etc, but then we watch these very things on television, we will find ourselves being condemned by Jesus with the Pharisees of old as hypocrites….
…Jeremiah 17:9 reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” What kind of a man would go into a profession of examining women’s private parts? Don’t tell me that he is not made of the same sinful flesh that every other man is made of. No man can look at pornographic images and not be affected. This is why God commands us repeatedly to set no wicked thing before our eyes.
Because of years and years of looking at and touching scores of women inappropriately, the male gynecologist no doubt has a seared conscience and a perverted mind (I will not go into detail of what goes on in the doctor’s office for decency’s sake, but any woman who has been there knows what I am referring to.). His view of women and the marital bed has certainly been warped by his indecent involvement with countless women.
May God help preachers in this generation to make the Bible their authority, not tradition, and call this ungodly practice what it really is – sin. Any doctor that looks upon and touches a woman’s private parts in his office “hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Sir, if you let your wife go to a male gynecologist, you need to get right with God.
…The same God who instituted the death penalty for murders is the same god who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals, sodomites and queers!
That’s what it was instituted for, okay? That’s God, he hasn’t changed. Oh, God doesn’t feel that way in the New Testament … God never “felt” anything about it, he commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed.
You know why God wanted the sodomites in the Old Testament to be killed? You know why every good king of Israel, the Bible says they got rid of the sodomites in the land? You know, the good kings that came after the bad kings who had allowed the sodomites to infest their land, they had infiltrated … King Asa got the sodomites out of the land, Jehoshaphat exterminated the sodomites that were left from the days of his father, Asa. Why? Because the sodomites are infectious, that’s why. Because they’re not reproducers, that goes without saying, they’re recruiters…
…Why do today’s Christians desire to limit the size of their families by means of birth control? Not one reason can be given as to why a Christian would want to bypass the blessing of children that is not motivated by either selfishness or a lack of faith in God. The Bible clearly teaches that it is the LORD that opens the womb of a woman and causes her to conceive a child. Who are we to tamper with the will of God?…
…If God is responsible for opening and closing the womb, and if he gives us children as a way to bless and reward us, why would we reject the gift of God and miss out on His perfect will in our lives? Nothing can be more offensive than the rejection of a gift given out of love. This is akin to those who reject God’s gift of eternal life and perish in the fires of Hell because they are unwilling to receive the gift of salvation.
The people of God have been influenced heavily by the ungodly world system, and the key doctrines of the Bible presented here have all but fallen by the wayside. We have gone from condemning all methods of birth control to condoning and even promoting the pill, which is the most heinous form of birth control. Would to God this generation would stand up and fight for this key doctrine of God’s word and cleanse our churches from the blood of our own sons and daughters…
The Bible gives us all the information we need to know with certainty the number of years from the creation of the world until events at the very end of the Old Testament. From there, modern history can tell us within a couple of years accuracy the number of years from then until now.
This essay conclusively proves that the earth is approximately 6,244 years old (plus or minus no more than 25 years). Most Bible scholars and theologians come up with a lower number right around 6,000 years or lower because they either don’t take the Biblical record for what it actually says, or they have a doctrinal agenda of keeping the number under 6,000 in order to prop up their dispensational teachings. Therefore they wrest the scriptures in order to come up with the answer they want.
However, anyone who approaches the Bible with an open mind and believes every word must come up with a higher number somewhere right around 6,244 years.
Other so-called Christians and theologians make statements like “seven to eight thousand years old” or “millions of years old.” This is nonsense and is easily proven false by this essay…
…Let me tell you something: Barack Obama has wrought lewdness in America. America has become lewd. What does lewd mean? L-E-W-D? [Pause] Obscene. Right? Dirty. Filthy. Homosexuality. Promiscuity. All of the — everything that’s on the billboard, the TV. Sensuality. Lewdness! We don’t even know what lewdness means anymore! We’re just surrounded by it, inundated with it!
… And yet you’re going to tell me that I’m supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide, who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth abortion and all these different things — you’re gonna tell me I’m supposed to pray for God to give him a good lunch tomorrow while he’s in Phoenix, Arizona.
Nope. I’m not gonna pray for his good. I’m going to pray that he dies and goes to hell. When I go to bed tonight, that’s what I’m going to pray. And you say, ‘Are you just saying that?’ No. When I go to bed tonight, Steven L. Anderson is going to pray for Barack Obama to die and go to hell.
I’ve heard some people call it National Pornographic. You know, as long as the people that are nude are black, it’s OK. Apparently, according to them. You know. Because, basically, I remember when I was a young adult, it was a big thing in the news, ‘The first nude, white woman in National Pornographic!’ Because, for years, they’ve shown people of other races nude, they just wouldn’t show white people.
…A perfect example of the fact that Bible colleges are completely patterned after worldly institutions is their “Masters” degree program. In an effort to perfectly mirror worldly schools, Bible colleges will confer titles such as “Master of Divinity,” “Master of Education,” and “Master of Pastoral Theology” upon their graduates. This is a clear violation of the teaching of Jesus Christ that such titles are off limits and belong solely to him.
Just as it is blasphemous for a Catholic priest to be called “Father,” or for a Jewish leader to be called “Rabbi,” it is equally blasphemous for a Baptist preacher or educator do hold the title of “Master.” To say that it is wrong for Catholics and Jews to use these titles and then to use one of them ourselves is utter hypocrisy. This inconsistency and hypocrisy stems from an attempt to be patterned after the worldly school system…
…The local church has been deemphasized as an institution by the advent of the current onslaught of para-church ministries. We need to get back to the basics and fundamentals of what Jesus taught us our methods should be: Bible-reading, prayer, house-to-house soul-winning, and a local church. Isn’t what the Bible has given us enough? Why do we feel the need to add institutions not mentioned by the Bible?…
Anderson is quite sincere in his beliefs, I have no doubt he really, really believes these things. (just like I did many years ago) Like many within the IFB church movement, he prides himself on being a man of one book, the inerrant, infallible, inspired, 1611 King James Version of the Bible. No need to read any other book but the Bible. No need to study anything other than the Bible. Anderson, armed with an infallible Bible and an infallible Holy Spirit living inside him, is able to make infallible pronouncements from the pulpit about everything.
Why do I bother with preachers like Steven Anderson? Simple. They have the canny ability to attract like-minded people to their churches. Anderson has a small congregation of people who hang on his every word. They see him as an authority on the Bible, oblivious to the fact that he is actually an uneducated, ill-prepared preacher that preaches things that are harmful and often untrue.
Steven Anderson is a nice version of Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church. When I see pictures of Anderson and his family, I see a nice looking, wholesome family. How can such a nice looking family have such crazy beliefs?
Anderson’s recent claim to fame is his belief that Christians will go through the Tribulation rather than being raptured out before the Tribulation. He has put out a video that details this new-found belief of his.
Here is an interview Anderson did for infowars,com, an audio and video ministry devoted to conspiracy theories and all kind of crazy.
Anderson is quite concerned about most everything, including how men pee. Yes, how men pee.
Lest you think no one listens to a nut-job like Steven Anderson, let me leave you with a screen grab of Anderson’s stats on YouTube:
Setting the Story
My parents were saved (put their faith in Jesus) at the Scott Memorial Baptist Church, San Diego, California (now Shadow Mountain Community Church) in the early 1960’s. The pastor of the church was Tim LaHaye.
Prior to my parent’s salvation experience, our family attended the Lutheran and Episcopalian Church in Bryan, Ohio. I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopalian Church.
My parent’s right-wing political ideology fit well with the right-wing religious ideology they were immersed in at Scott Memorial Baptist Church.
We moved from California in 1965, returning to Bryan ,Ohio, where our extended family was located. We began attending Fundamentalist Baptist Churches like Eastland Baptist Church and First Baptist Church.
In the late 1960’s, we moved from Bryan, and over the course of the next four or five years we moved several times. While the houses and schools were different, my parents always sought out a Fundamentalist Baptist Church for our family to attend.
In 1970, our family moved to Findlay, Ohio. For a short time our family attended Calvary Baptist Church. (My father called this the rich Baptists church.) Since we were definitely NOT rich Baptists, we left Calvary and began attending Trinity Baptist Church.
Our family attended Trinity Baptist Church for several years until my parents were divorced in 1972. After their divorce, my parents quit attending Church. Both of my parents remarried shortly after their divorce. My father married a 19 year old girl and my mother married her recently paroled first cousin.
I, however, continued to attend Trinity Baptist Church. My father moved us to Tucson, Arizona in 1973. I returned to Findlay, Ohio in the fall of 1973, and moved in with a family in the Church. I moved back home to Bryan, Ohio in 1974.
I dropped out of High School after my 11th grade year. I moved back to Sierra Vista,Arizona and lived with my father for awhile. I then moved again, back to Bryan, Ohio, and lived with my mother and her third husband. (her second husband killed himself)
No matter where I moved, I found a local Fundamentalist Baptist Church to attend. (Sierra Vista Baptist Church, Tucson Baptist Temple, First Baptist Church)
In the fall of 1976, I moved to Pontiac, Michigan to attend Midwestern Baptist College. At the age of 14, I had made a public profession of faith in Christ and was baptized. Later that same year I publicly confessed I believed God was calling me into the ministry. Now, at age 19, I was acting on God’s calling.
Midwestern was a fighting-fundamentalist, Sword of the Lord, King James Only, Independent Baptist College. The college chancellor was Tom Malone. Malone was a graduate of Bob Jones College (now University). He was also pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Pontiac, the Church that the students of the college were required to attend. Emmanuel was considered one of 100 largest Churches in America during the 1970’s.
The theology and methodology that I would use in the ministry over the next 25 years was cultivated at Midwestern.
In 1978, I married my college sweetheart. 8 months later, unemployed and pregnant with our first child, we left Midwestern and returned to Bryan, Ohio.
In upcoming posts I want to write a bit about my years as a pastor. Before I do that I need to back track a bit and write more extensively about the stops along the road of life that had a profound impact on my life.
- My years at Trinity Baptist Church, Findlay Ohio (1970-74)
- My years at Midwestern Baptist College, Pontiac Michigan (1976-79)