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philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Christ and the Bible

What was Christ's view of scripture and should Christians regard His view as authoritative?

If Jesus was truly man, mustn't he have shared the errors and ignorance of his own day?

While it may be true that Jesus autheticated the Old Testament, how could He have authenticated the New, since none of it was written during his time on earth?

What use can there be for inspired Scriptures if the originals are now longer available and all copies have been corrupted in manuscript transmission?

These are some of the questions I hope to touch on in this thread. If you have more let me have them and we'll try to shape the thread to answer those questions too.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/2/21 9:59Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Christ and the Bible

This little course of study will be based on John Wenham's book "Christ and the Bible". published in 1993 ISBN 0 86347 095 5

Wenhams had several sections
Introduction
1. Jesus' view of the Old Testament
2. The Authority of Jesus as a Teacher
3. Objections to the claims of Jesus
4. The New Testament Writers and the Old Testament.
5. Jesus and the New Testament
6. The Extent of the canon
7. The Reliability of the Bible text.

The book has 220 pages of closely reasoned text. To try to create a synopsis would result in something longer than Wenham, but I will extract the most pertinent questions and arguments and add my own comments. Please do feel free to join in. Honest doubt with humility never hurt anyone, and there are no 'stupid questions'. If I presume you understand more than you do the fault is mine not yours, please let me know.

Now a pause while I do some thinking...


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Ron Bailey

 2004/2/21 10:09Profile
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

I promise I won't presume and thanks for the qualifier.
Thought I would bring this back up just in case the 'pause' button got stuck. You wouldn't believe the disasterous results it has had when it has in my experience...[i]'while I do some thinking'..[/i]

No hurry, just wanted to make sure you were alright. ;-)


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Mike Balog

 2004/2/25 17:37Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: 001_Introduction

Introduction.
The most comprehensive studies in this topic were conducted by BB Warfield and published under the titles “Revelation and Inspiration” (1927) and The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (1959), but they were never designed as a systematic treatment of the subject.

Wenham’s thesis is that “Christ’s view of the Scripture can and should still be the Christian’s view of Scripture.” This is based on the fact that Christ’s view of the Scriptures was ascertainable. Consequently, in this sense, this is the Christian view of the Scriptures. Wenham’s book was written to show that Christ’s view of Scriptures is authoritative.

During the last 200 hundred years the traditional view of scripture has been assailed by ‘Higher Criticism’ which a secular historian has described thus; “Wellhausen and his school... scepticism carried to the point of fanaticism, a vandalizing of the human record.” Wenham is not tackling this directly.

Wenham’s book is addressed to Christians – “those who believe that Jesus was God Incarnate, the supreme revelation of God and to Christian’s who believe in a general sense that the gospels give a substantially true account of the Jesus of History.” This is interesting as Wenham does not insist upon a ‘take it or leave it’ or ‘all or nothing’ position. He works from the premise that real Christians can believe the general themes of Christ and His work. This may seem a weak foundation for some but it provides a wider base for people to follow his reasoning; it is worth following.

The argument goes like this; if the Gospels are substantially true, we are justified in regarding as historical those features in them which are often repeated and which are found in a variety of Gospel strata. There are three such features..

1. Jesus’ attitude to the Old Testament
2. Jesus’ attitude to His own teaching and
3. Jesus’ attitude to the continuing witness of His disciples after His death.

Christ regarded the teaching of the Old Testament, and His own teaching, and the teaching of the apostles as the teaching of God. It is this which leads to belief in scriptural inspiration.

A convert from a non-Christian religion or secular society has usually been on the journey for some time. The convert comes to the place of ‘faith’ – “I believe” means that he has come to the basic conviction that the basic statements of the New Testament concerning Christ are true. He may not have a settled view on the Bible but he will, at least, have believed that these first statements are reliable.

Wenham’s methodology is to get a grasp on what is recorded of Christ’s teaching as a whole before indulging in criticism of the parts. By this means it is possible to progress from faith in Christ to a carefully thought-out view of scripture without getting bogged down in criticism.

This first posting may seem a little academic but it is important to understand what Wenham is trying to do. He is not trying to convince a complete outsider that the Bible is infallible. His work is to help Christians to think through why they believe the Bible is reliable today. The more basic apologetic approach has been done well by Josh McDowell and others; Wenham is writing for Christians who want to understand how they should view the scriptures.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/2/26 8:56Profile
Agent001
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Joined: 2003/9/30
Posts: 386
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 Re:

One of my favourite topics because this is foundation of evangelicalism.

I am aware of B. B. Warfield's work and his prophetic model of inspiration -- that is, God inspires scripture in much the same way as he inspires the OT prophets; therefore, scripture has both human and divine elements. It is both the word of human and the Word of God. (The implications of this statement are significant).

I am less familiar with Wenham. Nevertheless, I think his approach is correct and followed by the majority of contemporary evangelicals.

Instead of saying "believe in Jesus because the Bible says so", this approach seems to be saying, "the Bible is authoritative because of faith in Christ." I think this is helpful especially in apologetics.

John Stott's "Basic Christianity" (a simple but profound book for seekers) follows the same line. Without asking the readers to assume the authority of scripture, Stott invites the non-believers to first read Jesus in the gospels as historical documents. From this understanding, they must decide whether to accept Jesus' claims as Son of God (as C. S. Lewis argued, "Is Jesus liar, lunatic, or Lord?")

It then follows that if we are committed to Christ, then his view of scripture's inspiration should be ours as well...

Just my two pennies.


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Sam

 2004/2/26 9:34Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: 001_introduction

Just my two pennies.

of much more worth than two pennies, and much appreciated. Thanks Sam.

Please do feel free to join in here. Can I ask folks to copy the title of the posting. e.g. this one was 001_introduction, as I have done here. This will mean that we shall know which section we are talking about. If folks come to these posting later they will be able to link comments to posting more easily.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/2/26 14:39Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: 101_Jesus’ View of the Old Testament

Wenham is still establishing his principles in this early part of his book. He recognises that for some people certain parts of the Gospels have less value as historical evidence than others. Wenham examines all four gospel accounts, and working on this expects the reader to accept the truth of the Gospel picture in outline. The question in his mind is ‘do the accounts produce a consistent view of Christ?’ If they do this would suggest that they are presenting an historical character and not “the creation of diverse minds from a diverse and scattered community”. (this is what some critics would claim)

Without going into too much detail here… Bible scholars have long recognised that there are similarities between the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke. (John’s style and intention seems quite different). Scholars call the first three accounts “synoptic” meaning they can be ‘viewed together’. Most of Mark is repeated in Matthew and Luke. However there are parts of Matthew which are unique to that account, and parts of Luke which are unique to that account. There are also parts of Matthew and Luke which are the same but which do not appear in Mark. Scholars have speculated that there was an earlier ‘gospel account’ which both Matthew and Luke have used; they call this phantom “Q”.

In all four gospel accounts we find records of
1. Christ preaching to the crowds
2. Instructing his disciples
3. Refuting opponents
4. Answering questions
we also find records of his experience with the tempter and his last instructions prior to his ascension.

Wenham says that As we proceed it will become clear that, throughout the whole range of the material, his attitude is unchanging. We shall examine in turn his attitude to the truth of history, to the authority of the teaching and to the inspiration of the writing. We shall see that to Christ the Old Testament was true, authoritative, inspired. To Him the God of the Old Testament was the living God and the teaching of the Old Testament was the teaching of the living God. To Him what Scripture said, God said.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/2/27 5:41Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: 001_Introduction

Agent001Instead of saying "believe in Jesus because the Bible says so", this approach seems to be saying, "the Bible is authoritative because of faith in Christ." I think this is helpful especially in apologetics.

For any readers who are at the very beginning of this journey the question may arise "why should I even bother with the Bible, hasn't it been proved to be a fiction and unreliable?" This is an earlier stage of apologetics that Sam refers to in his post. John Stott and Josh McDowell and many others have covered this ground well.

In a few words... there is strong evidence to indicate that the synoptic gospel accounts were written within 20 years of the events contained in them. At this time there were still many eye-witnesses to these events. If the gospel accounts were unreliable they would have been challenged by the early eyewitnesses and would never have gained the confidence of the early Christian community. The gospel accounts were not imposed as 'truth' by councils or religious hierarchies; they were consciously accepted as true by the people who witnessed the events. Later councils simply endorsed this concensus of the community.

The suggestion that the gospel accounts are the fiction of an early community is just not credible. This community placed the highest value on the virtue of truth; how could its source documents be intentional forgeries. Men and women were prepared to die for the ideas contained in these writings; how could this be if they themselves had invented the narratives?
The survival of the Christian community is standing evidence to the fact that the earliest Christians, who were better placed to know that any subsequent generations, fully endorsed these records.

This alone is compelling reason to read 'what they believed to be true'.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/2/27 5:57Profile
Agent001
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Joined: 2003/9/30
Posts: 386
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 Re:

Philologos,

By the time you finished, you will have enough material to publish a primer, a pamphlet on this topic. :)

001


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Sam

 2004/2/27 9:59Profile





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