Many who disbelieve the Bible’s claims to be the word of God raise objections. Often, these objections are raised sincerely by people seeking the truth. Whether sincere or not, the objections merit a response. Following are the first of eight common objections. The rest are featured in a future post.
Objection 1: No one really knows what the Bible says because the original manuscripts are lost.
Response: True, the “autographs” no longer exist, but a remarkable number of copies do. No other book from the ancient world has more, earlier, or better-copied manuscripts than the Bible. Nearly 5,800 Greek, 10,000 Latin, and 10,000-15,000 other early versions of the New Testament are in existence, some dating to within a generation of the originals. Compare this with fewer than 1,800 copies of Homer’s Iliad, with the earliest copies dating 400 years after the original.
If we don’t tithe, are we robbing God?
Doesn’t the Old Testament teach tithing, while the New Testament stresses giving?
These are important questions, and every sincere Christian wants to get the answers right.
The Bible is our authority – and the last word on this issue. While it isn’t possible in this article to conduct an exhaustive study, we may highlight what the Old and New Testaments have to say.
Many Christians struggling with addictive behaviors, bad relationships, or dire circumstances wonder if they are victims of generational curses. In other words, they worry that God is punishing them for the sins of their ancestors.
Prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen lend credence to this notion. “The things you struggle with – they didn’t just happen to show up,” he says in a video message. “Somebody in your family line opened the door…. It will continue until somebody rises up and puts a stop to it. Somebody has to deactivate that gene.”
Osteen blends a portion of Deut. 30:19 with commentary, “‘I set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.’ Notice your decisions don’t just affect you, they affect future generations.”
Proponents of generational curses cite additional Bible passages such as:
Ex. 20:5 – “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations …”
Ex. 34:7 – “But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.”
Similar warnings are repeated in Num. 14:18 and Deut. 5:9.
So, does the Bible really teach generational curses?
The answer is no.
In a previous column, we briefly examined several prophecies Jesus made concerning Himself. We presented the prophecies in the hope that our Muslim friends, who consider Jesus a great prophet but not the Son of God, would consider Jesus’ predictions, and their fulfillment, as evidence of His deity.
The traditional Muslim response to the Bible, however, is that Jews and Christians have corrupted it, so it cannot be trusted. However, this claim poses problems that begin with the Qur’an itself.
In Surah 10:94, Allah tells Muhammad, “So if you are in doubt, [O Muhammad], about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters” (Sahih International).
In addition, Surah 5:48 reads, “And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book [Qur’an] in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it …” (Sahih International).
Since the Qur’an was not collected in written form until after Muhammad’s death (AD 632), these passages clearly refer to the Old and New Testaments — specifically, the Torah (Law), Zabur (psalms), and Injil (Gospel).
So, Allah seems to be telling Muhammad to use the Bible to verify the truth claims of Islam. But if the Scriptures are corrupted, as Muslims claim, when were they corrupted?
There are only two possible answers: before the days of Muhammad, or after the days of Muhammad. Let’s explore both possibilities.
Sometimes, Christians are asked if we believe the Bible is literally true.
After all, whether eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood is a plunge into cannibalism, or a figurative expression of full devotion, depends on how we understand the language of Scripture.
In one sense, we might say the Bible is divinely inspired literature through which God speaks to human beings in our own language. This naturally includes a range of literary devices, from narrative to hyperbole.
So, what does it mean to take the Bible “literally”?