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APOLOGETICS: BIBLICAL ACCURACY

The Uniqueness of the Bible, Part 3

By John Ankerberg
Ankerberg Theological Research Institute



Part 1 | Part 2

CBN.com – Excerpted from Taking a Stand for the Bible

4. The Bible Is Unique in Its Teachings and Details

No other book in history compares to the unique combination of spiritual teachings and details of accuracy as provided in the Bible. For instance:

  • The Bible is the only book that offers objective evidence to be the Word of God, offering real proof of its divine inspiration.
  • The Bible is the only religious Scripture in the world that can logically be considered without errors in its original copies.
  • The Bible is the only ancient book with documented scientific and medical prevision. In fact, many modern books have been written on the theme of the Bible and modern science.
  • The Bible is the only religious Scripture that offers eternal salvation as a free gift entirely by God’s grace and mercy.
  • The Bible is the only ancient religious Scripture whose complete text has been preserved with such an extreme level of accuracy.
  • Only the Bible describes the creation of the universe by God from outside space and time and then gives a continuous historical record from the first man, Adam, to the end of history.
  • Only the Bible contains detailed prophecies about the coming Savior of the world and whose prophecies have proven true in history.
  • Only the Bible has unique theological content that includes the Trinity (that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the sinful nature of humanity, and the physical resurrection of Jesus from death.
  • Only the Bible offers a realistic and permanent remedy for the problem of human sin and evil.
  • Only the Bible has its accuracy confirmed in history, archaeology, and other sciences.
  • The internal and historical characteristics of the Bible are unique in its unity and internal consistency despite production over a 1500-year period by 40-plus authors in three languages on three continents discussing scores of controversial subjects yet having agreement on all issues.
  • The Bible is the most translated, purchased, and persecuted book in history.
  • Only the Bible is fully one-quarter prophetic, containing a total of some 400 complete pages of predictions.
  • Only the Bible has withstood 2000 years of intense scrutiny by critics, not only surviving the attacks but prospering and having its credibility strengthened by such criticism.
  • The Bible has molded the history of Western civilization more than any other book and achieved worldwide influence.
  • Only the Bible has a person-specific (Christ-centered) focus for each of its 66 books, detailing Christ’s life in prophecy 400-1500 years before his birth on earth.
  • Only the Bible proclaims a resurrection of its central figure that is proven in history.

5. The Bible Is Unique in Its Straightforward Interpretation

The Bible declares that it is our responsibility to interpret the Bible accurately. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The reason that members of alternative religious movements misinterpret the Bible is often because they have not studied or properly applied the principles for correctly interpreting a historical document like the Bible. John Ankerberg and John Weldon’s reference work Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions documents numerous examples of how cults and other religious groups misinterpret the Bible by failing to adhere to accepted rules of textual interpretation for literature.

In order to approach the Word of God correctly, we must become familiar with the basic principles of interpretation, such as that the Bible is generally to be interpreted normally or literally. There is no justification for coming to the text to interpret all of its words mystically or symbolically, or through the alleged insights of so-called higher consciousness or alleged new divine revelations that contradict the Bible’s earlier revelation. To interpret the Bible normally means attention must be paid to what the authors originally intended, what the words they wrote meant to them in their linguistic and historical context. The point is to discover the writer’s intent. This meaning is fixed by the author and is not open to our own personal interpretations or bias. Our goal must be to understand the text in its context before we seek to apply its meaning to our lives today.

Bible verses can often be better understood with reference to the original languages of Scripture—Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic—including word meanings and grammar. Comparing similar or parallel passages relevant to the particular verse or topic is also important. Bible verses must be interpreted both in their immediate and larger context. This may require some understanding of the author, and the general historical context, such as the time period in which the particular Bible book was written. Just as it would not be wise to interpret a single sentence in a magazine article by itself, but in the context of the entire article, we would also be wise to interpret verses from the Bible within their larger contexts.

Understanding the literary genre of a passage is also important. For example, we interpret the parables of Jesus in a different way than we do the historical accounts in the book of Acts. In addition, because the Bible is a compilation of progressive revelation (meaning more information is revealed over time), the Old Testament sometimes needs to be text-interpreted based on later teachings in the New Testament. Another helpful principle is to interpret unclear portions of the Bible with help from clearer portions. That’s because the Bible’s teachings, if perfect, must be consistent with one another.

If we respect the Bible as the Word of God, apply proper interpretive principles, and depend upon the Holy Spirit to help us interpret and apply it properly, our reverent study will bring great rewards. It will also astonish us how the message of the Bible is consistent with itself from beginning to end.

6. Jesus’ View of the Bible

Some religious groups argue that the Bible has become corrupted during the history of the church or claim to have received new revelations that correct or complete the Bible. But what such groups ultimately fail to do is to honor the words of Jesus, whom they claim to revere.

Jesus said plainly, without any reservations, that, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). He said that heaven and earth would pass away but that his words would never pass away (Matthew 24:35). In John 14:26 he promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things and bring to remembrance the things Jesus had taught them. He taught that the Holy Spirit, whom he would send, would guide the disciples into all truth (John 16:13). By doing so, he alluded to the inspiration and inerrancy of the New Testament before it was even written.

Clearly, Jesus did not believe that the Holy Spirit, whom he called “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17), would corrupt his own words or inspire error. As the Son of God, Jesus was a perfect and reliable authority. As the only person in history to resurrect himself from the dead (John 2:19), his view of Scripture holds precedence over what anyone else says.

7. The Bible Is Proven Reliable Historically

We will discuss this seventh point in greater detail in parts two and three of this book, but it is worth mentioning here that the Bible is unique based on its proven historical reliability. Archaeologists have discovered over 25,000 places or facts consistent with the historical locations and times cited in the Bible. Names of kings and queens and time lines of history, wars, and kingdoms have been proven consistent with biblical teachings time and time again, leading many skeptics to ultimately regard the Bible as a helpful resource in researching ancient history.

The Bible is not just one book; it is a 66-book anthology produced over multiple generations, yet reliable to the smallest detail. In our next chapter, we’ll step beyond the uniqueness of the Bible to take a look at how the Bible’s books were collected together into the one volume we enjoy today. As we do, we’ll discover God’s hand at work in both the writing of the Bible and in its continued compilation and translation from ancient scrolls to the digital world of our time.

 

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