People say God wrote the Bible—but did He?
What does God’s view of time have to do with whether He wrote the Bible or not?
Today we are going to answer these questions, which are foundational to any study of the Bible & discover some very fascinating things about God and Time that prove the answer.
Below is a podcast of the topic, then a video, and then notes–but before them is a downloadable handout of God’s View of Time, a fascinating illustration that helps us see how God gives us prophecy because He is outside of our limited view of time.
Notes for the Lesson:
The Bible—Human Story or Divine Revelation?
—answer & implications, part 1
Teacher: Yvon Prehn, Bible805.com
On the one hand, this question is incredibly important theologically
• But the answer to the question of whether the Bible is human or divine in origin is also usually decided before anyone teaches or talks about the Bible in any way.
• It’s a foundational presupposition—a belief we bring to any study of the Bible.
• Presuppositions are the “hidden agenda” many people don’t present upfront sometimes because they themselves don’t even realize that they have them.
• But our presuppositions, consciously or unconsciously color how we teach and how we apply whatever we are studying—which is the point of our study. We aren’t doing this to just get smarter about the Bible.
More on how presuppositions determine application
• For example, if my presupposition is that what I share about the Bible is merely a fairy tale, a legend, a good moral story—it really doesn’t matter how you respond.
• But if my presupposition is that what I share is based on messages from a living God, One who we will all someday face and give an account to—that’s another situation entirely.
• And your presupposition—human story or written by God will determine how you apply what I talk about.
• Because these two basic presuppositions about the Bible are so important, let’s look at them a little more closely, at the implications of them, and why I believe one of them is true.
• Which will lead us to some very interesting things about God and Time—which we’ll get to in a few minutes!
• The TWO foundational presuppositional positions in how people study and teach the Bible are:
• #1 The Bible is a human-created book. Therefore, individual human judgment is the final authority in determining the truth of Scripture and its application in human life.
• #2 The Bible is a God-created book. God is the final authority of determining the truth of Scripture and its application in human life.
• Let’s look at these more closely.
#1 The Bible is a human- created book
• PLEASE KNOW all I will talk about for the next few minutes, I DO NOT BELIEVE.
• The view that the Bible is a human-created book has been the primary world-held presupposition since late 18th century.
• More specifically, the Jesus Seminar and many liberal theologians hold to it today.
• It is also the view of many so-called scholarly programs about the Bible on television.
• Though they might talk about the Bible in seemingly reverent tones, the Bible is seen as a spiritual book not significantly different than many other spiritual books written by the followers of Krishna, Buddha, Joseph Smith, or others.
• To this view the Bible is viewed as a book that may contain the word of God—but it is not the Word of God.
Some results of this presupposition
• Little in the Bible is taken as literal fact or literal history.
• This view allegorizes and makes into fables and myths the teachings in the Bible—the story of Adam and Eve or Noah are viewed as little different than the story of Gilgamesh or any other mythology.
• This view sees books like Genesis and Job as folk tales illustrating cultural or ethnic concepts about God, not as literally true. One view is that Job was not a real person, but an allegory representing the suffering of the Jewish people following the Babylonian captivity.
• (BTW I totally disagree with that assessment of Job and will show you why historically why in an upcoming lesson)
• This view allows proponents to pull passages, stories, inspiring texts out completely out of context and use them whenever and however they want.
• What matters is what feels right to the individual reading the story. If something speaks to you—you can use it—however you want to use it.
• Some very false and misleading views result with the label of the Bible attached to them.
This view is also called an “anti-supernatural bias”
• VERY IMPORTANT to understand this bias means that it apriori (not based on facts and prior to any evidence) discounts any supernatural explanation for anything.
• A key conclusion of this way of thinking (again, not based on facts) is that fulfilled prophecy doesn’t exist—that any appearance of a seemingly fulfilled prophecy was recorded after the happening prophesied, not prior to it.
• This is one area we will consistently refute as we study the Bible because secular history, dating of artifacts, and document evidence simply does not agree with an anti-supernatural bias. I’ll give you one example shortly, many more will follow.
• You may not agree with the cause of why something that was foretold happened, but you cannot discount the reality that certain statements were made hundreds, if not thousands of years before they took place, that then that event took place precisely as described.
• Time travel is not really an option for why—though there have been numerous sci-fi movies that propose this.
• Just a few more observations about the idea that the Bible is a humanly created book….
An old, but useful analogy
• Learning to spot an aniti-supernatural bias in Biblical studies is like learning how to spot counterfeit money—you study the real thing. When you learn how true history supports what I’ll share about the Bible, you can spot the fanciful teachings that have no basis in reality.
• For example, when you know the dating of the New Testament documents that are in our Bible, that they written very close to the events recorded, were written by the named authors, and that we have over 5,000 manuscripts dated to a few decades after the actual events, when you see something on TV or read about the Gospel of Thomas or the so-called Gospel of Mary, you will immediately recognize how different these are and see why they were not included in the New Testament.
• For a further discussion of this specific topic see the lessons on How We Got Our Bibles (where I show you manuscripts from the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary).
• Now on to the second view—that the Bible is of Divine Origin, in other words…..
#2 That the Bible is the Word of God.
• Instead of the Bible being a human creation and therefore humans decide what to believe or accept as true in the scriptures and what not to based on the presupposition that the supernatural cannot happen is this contrasting view. (It comes from ECO Core Value statement on Biblical Integrity)
• “We believe the Bible is (not merely contains) the unique and authoritative Word of God, which teaches all that is necessary for faith and life. The prominence of God’s Word over our lives shapes our priorities, and the unrivaled authority of the Bible directs our actions to be in concert with Christ’s very best for our lives.”
• In addition, I believe God is the ultimate author of the Bible—that He spoke through human authors and though they each expressed it in their own way, the content is ultimately God’s.
• That’s the presupposition from which I will be doing all my teaching and from which I will suggest applications.
• Next question—Why do I believe that? Why should you believe that?
• Because, in large measure, as they say, “timing is everything”
How we view God and Time
• If there is no belief in the supernatural that affects our view of time and chance.
• Things happen the way and when they happen…because, well, there is no “because”—there is no planning head of time or forethought, all is a matter of random chance.
• Chance is the cause of creation, of humanity, of what happens to people.
• One result of this way of thinking is a popular view today of Jesus.
• He is considered by most everyone as a good man, an inspiring preacher, who unfortunately, by chance lived when Rome was in charge of his world.
• In that world Jesus had no idea how radical his teachings were or that he was going to be crucified by the Romans.
• His death is seen was as tragic and one that took him by surprise as much as it did his followers.
If we do believe in the Supernatural
• And that God is the ultimate writer of the Bible, it follows that Christians believe all the events in the life of Jesus were NOT the result of random chance but prophesied long before his birth.
• His death was not an accident, but an event foretold from the earliest days of human life and throughout the Old Testament.
• More details on this in a minute, but how can we know which view is true?
• Either that all that happened to Jesus was totally by chance or all that happened to Jesus was known and written about ahead of time—which defines what prophecy is.
• Not a hard question to answer……
Here is how we can do it
• One way would be to show God is outside time.
• If God is outside time and can see everything past, present and future, He could then correctly predict events that will happen in earthly history,
• In other words, give us prophecy about them.
• If those events happen in the order or when a particular prophecy says they should, that can be good evidence that God was involved.
• We’ll look at a specific example in a minute, but first….
• Two illustrations follow that will help this idea to make sense.
Imagine a parade
• You are watching it with a friend, but then your friend leaves you and a few minutes later you get a text where your friend announces that she was able to get into the announcer’s booth, above the crowd because she has a friend there.
• You don’t believe your friend was able to do that and you respond: “Prove it.”
• Because your friend can see what is coming in the parade and you can’t, she tells you what will happen in the future of the parade—a huge float with Star Trek characters will come by and since nothing like this has been in the parade so far, you respond “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
• In a few minutes, the float with Star Trek characters comes by and you realize your friend really is up in the announcer’s booth.
A view from above the level of the parade allowed your friend to make a “prophecy” about what would happen
• Imagine now that the parade is the total history of our universe and humanity.
• And instead of an announcer’s booth, God is outside of time, seeing, knowing the beginning from the end. And He wants us to believe that.
• We have a right to expect proof of that just as we would from our friend at the parade.
• That’s why He gives us prophecy to clearly tell us what is going to happen.
• Another illustration to show how….
God is outside time
• Instead of the announcer’s booth, (I have an illustration, a chart on the website, www.Bible805.com and will be in the podcast notes)
• Let me describe it to you–
How does this work in the Bible?
• In the Bible God tells us what is coming hundreds, if not thousands of years before events they happen. These events are recorded by his prophets and the Biblical writers (which is why it is important to date when the Biblical documents are written, important to define the historical anchors to the content in the Bible which we will do).
• When events they happen exactly as predicted, we should recognize that the God outside of time knew what would happen and had a hand in bringing it about.
• For example, the most numerous predictions in the Bible are the many prophecies about Jesus. We may not know exactly when certain things were written but we certainly know that the Old Testament was written long before Jesus lived.
• From his family lineage, to the place of his birth, his life work, and the details of his death and resurrection, it was all written about, prophesied from literally the beginning of humanity.
One example is about his birth in Bethlehem.
• “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.“ Micah 5:2
• This is only one of around 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. For an interesting article on a prophecy along with its fulfillment about Jesus, go to: https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html
• Or you can do a Google search on “prophecies about Jesus” and you’ll find lots of them along with the passages of how they were fulfilled—really no graduate level research skills needed to learn about this.
Jesus isn’t the only topic of prophecies given and fulfilled in the Old Testament.
• There are many more short-term prophecies of what God said would happen to His people if they did or did not obey Him, that were again fulfilled in detail in secular history. God says a nation will conquer Israel if they don’t obey; they don’t, and that nation conquers them.
• We’ll be going over this as we go along and some are incredibly fascinating—such as the prophecy where the Prophet Isaiah names King Cyrus, by NAME, who would allow the Jews to return from captivity, around 120 years before Cyrus was born AND before the Jews even went into captivity.
• By the way if you wanted to read some mental gymnastics about an anti-supernatural viewpoint, read some on this topic. They are great examples of arguing from an anti-supernatural bias regardless of historical facts.
• One (who will show how this is a supernatural prophecy, but does a good job of presenting the anti supernatural view, buts it this way…..he cites what I just did and goes on to say….
• No modern Historian can accept such a thing. That breaks ALL the rules of History. Isaiah wrote something in 675 BC about someone who was born 120 years later and 500 miles away? No! It can’t be! Can it? What are the chances?
• This is why most modern scholars obviously know that Isaiah’s gospel was “supplemented” at a later time by “unknown prophets.” After all, if he NAMES Cyrus, he can’t have prophesied BEFORE Cyrus, now can he?
Exploring Isaiah’s Prophesy About Cyrus the Great
• Yes, Isaiah can if the source of Isaiah’s prophecies is the God who exists out of time and who spoke through Isaiah. Actually, much easier mentally and honest academically to do that—but I’ll share critical dating issues and proofs on this when we get to the study of it.
Exciting stuff! And there is lots more of it!
• BUT of course, we won’t see these things—
• If we don’t read our Bibles in Chronological, historical order—
• AND if you don’t anchor Bible events in true history and geography
• This is one of the things that makes the Old Testament so fascinating to study and to share because you can read a prophetic passage and then read when it was fulfilled.
Which we will do as we go through the Bible with the Bible805 podcasts and lessons.
But the fulfilment of prophecy by a God outside of time isn’t the only thing that convinces us that God is the author of the Bible
• 2 more considerations that show God is the author of the Bible:
• #1 The importance of true History—which is essential because if we don’t have true history we can’t check out prophecy
• #2 Progressive Revelation
• And then to clarify some related presuppositions that are important there are 2 concluding implications I want to mention:
• God’s Control, His Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
• A Linear View of Time and History—
• But we are out of time today and I will talk about these in the next lesson, part two of The Bible—Human Story or Divine Revelation?
That’s all for now
• Check out the notes from this lesson, related resources, and helpful links at www.bible805.com
• If the podcast has been useful to you, please consider supporting it through your donations and prayers. For a link to donate a small amount consistently, it is at the end of the description of the podcast on iTunes and other podcast sources you are listening from or on bible805.com. Thank you in advance for your support and prayers.
• In closing…..I’m Yvon Prehn, your fellow pilgrim,
writer and teacher for Jesus.
• I’d like to end with this benediction:
May you know the invitation of God, to move
-from confusion to clarity
-from wandering to rest
-from loneliness to knowing you are loved
-from turmoil to peace
From wherever you are on your spiritual journey to a growing knowledge of God’s Word and in your personal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen