devotional

10NOV
2014

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part Eleven.

 

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. 23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian faith according to a Baptist flavor.

 

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CHAPTER 1
OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Paragraph 8a: “The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them.”

Christianity is NOT a western religion! It is decidedly ancient near eastern. Jesus, culturally speaking, was far more oriental than occidental. I’m in Romania as I write this. Earlier this week in Afghanistan I was engaged in a wonderful discussion about the gospel with a fine gentlemen who was born and raised Muslim in Kabul, Afghanistan but who had lived in Los Angeles, CA for over 30 years. We had a nice time playing instruments together, singing, and talking till midnight. In our discussion I mentioned how the Bible, unlike the Koran, was actually written in more than one language over a 1,500 year time period by over 40 separate authors. I read Isaiah 53 with him. He speculated its authorship to sometime after the birth of Jesus, and I told him how it was written in roughly 700 BC. The Bible is a wholly unique book. Every time I speak of it I’m reminded of this fact.

     What they mean about the Bible’s being, “…immediately inspired by God” is that the Bible is God’s word direct, 2 Timothy 3:16. It’s as if the Creator Himself sat at a table with pen in hand and wrote it. His pens were over 40 men. Those men were “inspired” in a way that no others have ever been or ever will be again. It was therefore “immediately” or “directly” inspired by God through them. All Christians confess this. It is only by the indwelling work of the Spirit who wrote it that we can.

     There is a very small amount of Syrian Aramaic language throughout the Bible, but it was indeed mostly written in Hebrew (the 39 books in the Old Testament) and in Greek (the 27 books of the New Testament). When these writers speak of the Bible being “…by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages” there is much behind this statement. What it boils down to is that there was no, “Telephone game” with the Bible. It was NOT person one telling person two something with person three then hearing a slightly different message from person two, and then person 50 getting a wholly misconstrued message from the first’s intent. The Bible is the most reliable text in antiquity with none even remotely close at second. If we cannot trust its reliability as a historical document then it is certain that we can know nothing from the time period. We have no original autographs of any of it, but its reliable preservation is nonetheless indisputable by the facts.

     I will give you a short example of its being by, “…providence kept pure in all ages.” The Bible’s OT was often said to be unreliable prior to the 20TH Century just like today. Critics would purport the telephone game fallacy and point to existing variations in translations, etc. The best things available of OT manuscripts then dated to about the 9TH Century AD. Though these texts themselves were nearly 100% reliable there was still the assertion that the Bible’s original message had been lost. Then in the 1970s the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in Qumran. They dated the OT documents back to about 300 BC. The antagonists were forced to acknowledge that the texts from the 9TH Century, the ones they said were unreliable, were wholly reliable. The Bible, “by his singular care and providence,” has/had indeed been preserved. You can trust that you have what its original authors wrote. Note: the evidences for the reliability of the NT far outweigh those of the OT.

     The NT’s Koine Greek language was the language urbanized as the Grecian dialect spread after Alexander’s conquest of the near east. It was the blending of a more formal Greek into the common language of the people.

     A “controversy” of religion spans from things minor to things major. In any case, we’re to seek our answers in the Bible. For the believer it’s always about coming back to the Bible. For scholars who know the original languages debates between modern translations may come back to a more detailed examination of the Bible’s original languages. In either case it’s still about coming back to, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints,” Jude 1:3. We make our final appeals to the Bible. We may use the opinions of others, logic, numerous scientific disciplines, experiences, opinion polls, poems, or other things, but ultimately all of these things bow to a simple reading of the Bible’s text, God’s word.

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