What's the Deal with the Bible? How Do We Know We Can Trust It?
- The Bible isn’t one book, it is an anthology of 66 different books written by 40 different authors over a 1,500 year time-span.
- While the Bible was written by human beings, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit as to what to write, and how to write.
- So the Bible is God’s Word and is completely trustworthy. In the Church it is the sole source and norm of all teaching and practice.
In Fuller Detail:
I’ve had people ask me what’s so special about the Bible. It’s just a book written by men.
My response is always, “Well, yes…but more.” Certainly the Bible was written by men. Notice the plural. Not man, but men. That gives us our first glimpse into what the Bible is.
The book that we call The Bible isn’t really one book. It’s an anthology, a collection of books under one cover. This anthology contains 66 books total, with a wide variety of literature types (narrative, history, poetry, wisdom-sayings, proverbs, letters). The books cover a span of over 1,500 years. The 66 books were written by 40 different people (some wrote more than one book), including kings, poets, shepherds, a tax collector, a physician, a tent-maker, and a couple of professional fishermen. So certainly the Bible is an anthology of books written by men.
Like all authors, these 40 people wrote because something inspired them to take up pen and paper and write. Poets talk about their muse, their inspiration for their poetry, whether it be love, beauty, justice, or something else. The Biblical authors had their inspiration, too, but it wasn’t a thing, it was a person, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved certain people, and provided them with the words to write. Paul, an author of several New Testament books, summarized it this way: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NASB95)
So, while each book in the Bible was written by a human being, each was inspired by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity (God). Each book conveys the vocabulary and writing style of its human author, but the content – and even the choice of words used – was inspired by the Holy Spirit working through that author. So we can truthfully say that the books of the Bible were written by God through His chosen human authors. In other words, the Bible isn’t just man’s word, it is God’s Word.
Because God is the ultimate author, and He cannot lie, then we can trust it absolutely. So, the Church has always understood the Bible to be the ultimate source of teaching in the Church, and the thing that all teaching and instruction must agree with in the Church.
The question about how we got our Bible, and why some books were accepted and some not others, is a whole other issue. You can find good information about it here:
Some interesting facts about the Bible:
- The Bible is the best-selling book in history, with total sales exceeding 5 billion copies.
- Over 100 million copies of the Bible are sold each year.
- More than 168,000 Bibles are either sold or given away per day in the USA.
- The Holy Bible has been translated into 2,018 languages, with countless more partial translations, and audio translations (for unwritten languages). This is an enormous amount of translations. In comparison, Shakespeare, considered by many to be the master writer of the English language, has only been translated into 50 languages.
- In 1631, a publishing company published a Bible with the typo “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery.” Only 9 of these Bibles, known as the “Sinners’ Bible” exist today.
- The Bible has inspired more song lyrics than any other book, including “40” (U2), “Adam Raised a Cain,” (Bruce Springsteen), “Adam’s Apple” (Aerosmith), “All you Zombies” (The Hooters), “Be Still” (Kelly Clarkson), “Blackened” (Metallica), “Cinnamon Girl” (Prince), “Come Sail Away (Styx), “Every Grain of Sand” (Bob Dylan), “I am God” (Kanye West) and many more.