The Bible, Canon, and Newsweek Magazine

thomas_std_tSome of you have probably read or heard about Kurt Eichenwald’s controversial article on the Bible in Newsweek Magainze.  Some of Eichenwald’s most alarming claims include:

  • Your Bible is a bad translation-a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times. Implication: What you have now was not what was written then.
  • The gospels became a part of your Bible due to “votes”, hundreds of years after they were written.
  • Due to translational trickery, you believe in the Trinity and the Deity of Christ.
  • Your Bible is full of contradictions

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  How would you answer these questions?  Would you be able to?  Attacks on the reliability of the Bible and the accuracy of modern translations will likely increase in the years ahead.  It is important for Christians to get a handle on these attacks and know how to process and respond to them.

Here are a couple of responses that I thought engaged with the article well and were quite helpful:

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I am currently a Master’s student, replies here.

Dr. Michael Kruger, scholar, expert in early Christianity and a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary had so much to say it took him two posts to get it all out.  His responses are here and here.

One of Eichenwald’s concethomas_std_trns is that the Bible is misunderstood by many who claim to be Christians.  He’s actually on to something there.  There are many who would identify with the faith that use and apply the Bible wrongly.  Unfortunately, Eichenwald, who is quite uninformed about what he writes, clarifies nothing, but only adds his own confusion to the mix which is what makes his article dangerous and unhelpful.  Nevertheless, many will be impressed and swayed by Eichenwald’s article, and that’s the saddest part of it all.

thomas_std_tThis makes it all the more urgent for Christians to know what they believe, why they believe it, and to inform themselves on the facts regarding the Bible.  Obviously reading the Bible for yourself is the best place to begin!  Assuming you are already doing this, a great place to grow your knowledge would be exploring the reliability of our modern translations and the formation of the biblical canon.

Regarding the transmission of the New Testament from then to now, Greg Koukl provides an excellent summary here, demonstrating why we can be confidant that the Scriptures you read today are what was originally written.

For a list of resources dealing with the canon of Scripture click here.

Finally, why were some books recognized as canon while others were thomas_std_trejected? Why do Catholic Bibles have an extra section called the Apocrypha? Was the selection process primarily about the exercise of power in determining what ultimately became Scripture, or a submission to the inherent authority of sacred texts? Check out this episode of the White Horse Inn for a helpful discussion tackling these questions.

I’m happy to help you with any specific questions or topics along these lines you are interested in, and if I can’t help you, I’ll point you to resources that can.  Even if you just skim the above resources, you’ll easily be light years ahead of Eichenwald in your understanding of Scripture.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer