Promises and Secrets
A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.
Is the Bible Reliable?
I believe in the truth of the Bible. Having said that, you must realize that the specific words of the individual translations do not necessarily reveal all of that truth. It is the complete story from Genesis to Revelation that flows in a single thread that should convince the reader - not the personalized, often mistranslated, individual versions that can lead many astray.
The Bible is accepted by many believers as the Word of God full of the Truth as it was originally passed to those men who wrote it down. It is also denounced by skeptics as a collection of stories, subsequently changed often, that were made up by men in order to persuade or control other men.
What do you think?
The Bible is not reliable?
In a Bible study the other night, a skeptic friend doubted the truth of the Bible.
Not just some of the stories that were too hard for him to believe, but he doubts the veracity of the entire book. His claim was that none of the Bible was written until the time of the Babylonians - around 600 B.C. In fact, he is sure that the Bible was changed often after that to include some stories that would make God and Jesus look more acceptable, desirable, powerful, or even make them divine in people's minds. He feels that none of the Bible is factual and that most, if not all, of the stories described therein are completely fabricated.
What else is there?
When asked what he did believe in, he replied that Buddhism made a lot of sense to him. After asking him about a few of the concepts I had associated with Buddhism, he quickly dispelled them and defended it as being just a great way to view the world and getting along with every person, creature, and thing around you. I think he was describing the "inner peace" of not being involved in conflict of any kind.
"The Bible is true, but not all of it"
Now, on the surface these two ideas have a lot of support in the world of today. There are even a lot of so-called Christians who do not accept the Bible at face value, even though they claim to believe much of what it contains. In fact, these "Christians" often feel justified in outright disobedience to the Bible when they feel that it is too strict or just plain wrong on some issues. Many churches today are accepting not only practicing gays into their membership, but some even bring gays in as pastors who preach from the same Bible that they are flagrantly disobeying.
One article about this subject is at Albert Mohler, written by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., a theologian and ordained minister, who serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article describes the positions of two sides, though he himself falls toward one side, but you can also find articles that are vehemently for one side or the other without presenting both. The point is, many do not accept everything the Bible says.
Let's start at the beginning
So, this page is going to be about the accuracy of the Bible, and whether it is necessary for the peace we seek, whether there are external sources for that peace, and finally, whether even "believers" think God really meant what He said in the Bible. The first section shows the worldly view of the Bible origins, the second section identifies an extra-Biblical search for something that the Bible promises, and the third section demonstrates the personal manipulation of many of today's churches by making cafeteria-like selections from some statements in the Bible and ignoring the rest.
Has the Bible changed?
First, let's address the accusations about the accuracy and veracity of the Bible. With all the agencies around that make loud claims that, since the Bible was not written once and then passed on as a single verifiable document it can't be true, we wonder where they got their "information". Also, some even go so far as to say that men saw that they needed the Bible to say something spectacular, so people made some stories up from their own ideas. These ideas include fabricating the creation of the universe, the divinity of Christ, the miracles He performed, even His resurrection from the dead.
Defying "conventional" wisdom
Rather than go through any kind of long proof here that others have already done, you can always search Google for the articles of your choice and justify what you already believe with the sentiments of another. Sentiments - not facts. Many authors have presented selected tidbits and built entire belief systems on them, persuading others by making claims that they either cannot verify or to which they will not present, or even examine, the contradictory facts.
As I said, rather than do that, I recommend the following list of articles for you to ponder. Notice that I did not say that these are the best or only articles on the subject. However, there is enough justification and reference material for each of these positions that you will have to decide whether or not you understand the issue well enough to continue. The first one listed has the most extensive historical perspective, but the rest are informative as well.
Are you curious, or just argumentative?
If you are really curious, rather than just trying to prove something, you will wonder about the statement in the article at Got Questions? that claims "Any unbiased document scholar will agree that the Bible has been remarkably well-preserved over the centuries." Do your own research and see if you are truly unbiased or if you just don't agree with the researchers. If you disagree, let us know what you find, along with your references and discoveries, not your own personal sentiment. We will be glad to print your opposing view.
Another source of "truth"?
As for the second section above, many, including my friend from the Bible study, follow the search for "inner peace" through an external philosophy described by another, self-proclaimed guide to peace with the world. One of the most common is Buddha and Buddhism. Again, you can find articles about the positive wonderfulness of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) and his philosophy origins 2500 years ago everywhere, as you can find about Christianity or even Islam.
But, as with the real world, when you go to buy a car or anything that is a significant investment, you look for the positives, of course, but you also look up complaints, track records of customers, repair costs, and a host of other considerations. Why don't people look for these when they are trying to find the "secret to life, the universe, and everything" (42 - er, Jesus!)?
To get an idea about the nature of Buddhism, evidently from a connected source, the site at thebuddhistcentre gives a brief description of Buddhism, buddha, teaching, practice, and festivals. You will find that it is a simple belief, mostly for those who are seeking to lose everything connected with civilization, develop no ambition, no social skills, no desires for either self-improvement or improving the world at large, and who refuse to believe anything that Christians believe. Since few people on either side of this discussion mention anything negative about Buddhism, I will do so here.
Not so "neutral" a philosophy
An article by Dale DeBakcsy at The dark side of Buddhism was, interestingly, both positive and negative. This is a man who spent nine years as a teacher of science and various maths at a private Buddhist school in the United States. The article points out some interesting concepts both from Buddhism itself, and some of the ultimate consequences if one gets all the way to the described "end" of the path.
Another article casting some shadows on Buddhism is at Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog. The author is not otherwise named, allowing us to presume that it is Christopher Titmuss Dharma himself. You might want to check it out before you turn your life over to a guide to "the ultimate in nothingness". All you have to do is meditate on the 10 Negative Factors about Buddhism that he lists on the site. As for interactive comments below this list on the site, the only interaction with the author seems to be comments by readers of his blog with no further discussion.
You should particularly check out the first comments (there are two of them) by samir sardana, if you can read them coherently, claiming that the Hindu gods introduced Buddhism as a distraction for Atheists, idolators, and animal sacrifices. Of course, there is no presentation of references or proof of any kind, much like the fact that Buddhism is based on the philosophy of one individual with no justifcation other than "results" in the life of the individual.
While there is the obligatory defensive comment by a Buddhist, also very interesting are the comments by Valerio La Mendola and Genghis Khan (not kidding here) regarding the fact that the teachings of Buddha are not necessarily represented by Buddhism. We can only assume that this is similar to the differences between the denominations in Christianity.
"I know it's true, but I don't follow all of it..."
The last of the opening three sections brings up a subject that is much more common than most think. In fact, it is so common, that this entire website at Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog is devoted to pointing it out. The Bible, regardless of translation, is a book that is accepted and supposedly revered by approximately 2 billion Christian people in the world. As outstanding as that fact sounds, very close to none of them follow that Book closely. Oh, most of them claim to follow it, but that is always followed by a narrow designation of which parts are still valid and which are not.
"Gimme the good parts...no, not that."
For example, the most common claim for Gentile "Christians" in the world is that the Old Testament never applied to the Gentiles - only to the Jews. Sure, you will get a lot of qualifications and justifications - none of which are from the Bible. Those justifications that are from the Bible are usually not even relevant or even pertaining to the topic under discussion. This falls right into line with the thoughts of those who think the Bible was written to control man - as in, "That wasn't written for me."
"I'm a good person, He won't mind..."
For most "Christian" organizations, the Bible is a smorgasboard of beliefs from which you can pick some and choose to ignore others while supposedly still remaining in the will of the God who will eventually determine the fate of every soul that ever lived on earth. If this is true, then none of us have anything to worry about. If the vast majority of the Christian churches can mix paganism with Christianity in their worship of a God Who said not to do that, then the rest of us have virtually no rules to worry about because, evidently, God didn't mean for anything He said to apply to good people. That is, unless you are not the good person that everyone else seems to be. This, of course, rules out the application of Mark 10:18
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone."
, but that was only Jesus. What does He know?
"It's true, but that part's not for me..."
Historical evidence shows we can trust the Bible. Since that Book also tells us to believe in the saving grace of Jesus and act in the will of the Father, who could possibly think that this should prevent us from having gay pastors, being adulterers, pedophiles, thieves, or eaters of lobsters and pork. Worse yet, how could we ever do the unthinkable (shudder), actually following the Ten Commandments and keeping the Sabbath day holy? Should we get rid of the Bible by claiming that it isn't from God, or doesn't apply to us, and "revert" to the "law of the fittest"? It isn't just atheists who do that - Christians do it every day.
Make sure you are settled, no turning back
The bottom line is, if you believe that the Bible was written by man in order to control or convince man of something, then you should do some research and make sure you are right. After that research, you may still feel that you are right. I mean, if you feel that you're right, then you must be right, right?
There is only one caveat. If you are wrong, and this Bible is a description of the way that the real God in charge wants us to live our lives, and you don't follow it, then you are going to face some surprising problems at the end of time. Now you may not be afraid of your future eternal residence in those circumstances that the Bible describes as waiting for those who do not believe in God or Jesus, but that won't matter much when He says to you, "Go jump in the Lake!" Once you find out for sure that you are wrong, it's too late to change anything.
All evidence we have today that can be as definitive as possible says that the Bible writes about real historical people and events, gives rules that still make sense in our lives, and still has the same message for us as it did when each of its parts were written starting around 1400 B.C. and going to about 100 A.D. To deny that idea requires either no faith, or faith in something besides the God of my faith. You must decide which faith will matter when it comes down to the wire. If you decide that my faith is wrong, then hope that your faith in Buddha, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Socialism, Communism, or pink fairies is right for you - but, please keep checking it out - just in case God knows whereof He speaks.
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