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I am so excited to start this series of the 10 Basic Christian Beliefs every exmo and new believer needs to know.
Let me tell you why.
When I first left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon church, and was just at that place of wanting to learn what other Christian faiths were all about, I was embarrassed. I remember sitting in a Christain Mother’s of Preschoolers bible study and not even saying a word because I didn’t have any idea what they were talking about. I didn’t know what a devotional was, why crosses are okay and not wrong, and why they never talked about heavenly mother or Paul even was. I didn’t know what books were part of the Bible and what is part of the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or D&C. I knew I didn’t want to be Mormon, but I had no idea how to be, or what to do as a Christian. Was I even a Christian?
I wanted someone to explain things to me like I was a child. Not condescending, as an enneagram five I have serious feelings about feeling incapable. I just wanted the book, How to believe as a Christian 101.
I didn’t even know where to look and my fear and insecurities kept me lost for years. 20 years to be exact.
This series is all for you. You are hungry to know His peace. You want to know truth. You want to confidently show up to Bible study ready to dive in without embarrassment. You who want to know what it means to follow Christ- to know Him and to make Him known.
This is the true Gospel as I have come to learn from Him, the beautiful people He has brought into my life, books and above all the Good Book- His word, the Bible.
This series is for you.
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Christian Beliefs 101- The 10 Christian Beliefs Every Exmo and New Believer Need to Know
The full course is coming your way! Be the first to know when seats are open HERE!
I have no idea if this has changed since I was part of the Mormon church at 18, but at that time, circa 90-2000 era I was taught that the Bible was the least trustworthy of all the scriptures. It had been corrupted to the n’th degree through the years and who knows if it was translated correctly.
That is part of the articles of faith so it can’t have changed too much in its teachings.
The problem is that even after I left and said I don’t believe in the church I kept that destructive thought process with me for years and it kept me from knowing God.
That is the first and one of the most fundamental Christian Beliefs that we need to tackle in this series because the Bible is the foundation for literally everything that comes after.
Can I trust the Bible and why?
In this post…
Today we are going to go over…
8 Reasons to Trust the Bible.
1) The Magnitude of what the Bible is and its Impact. What is the Bible?
The Bible is a book, but not just any book. This book has spawned countless religions, started wars, healed in miraculous fashion, and lasted in superior quality over thousands of years. The old testament of the Bible is the basis for all Abrahamic religions- Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It is contested. It is loved.
One thing the Bible has never been inconsequential. It has weight.
The Bible contains 66 books by over 40 different authors in 3 languages over the course of 1500 years, and they all tell one unified story of sin, redemption through the Messiah, judgment, and God’s grace. These books tell the story of Jesus. From beginning to end, it is about Him and the salvation that we are privy to because of what He did for us, from the beginning. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When countries become communist, become under a dictatorship, or are oppressed, guess what book is the first to be banned and burned? The Bible.
It has power. No matter what you believe about it, that part cannot be denied.
2) Archeological Evidence- Fact or Fiction?
Within the Mormon church, I don’t beleive this is a popular area of dispute, but now that you left you may be wondering how can you believe any book? How can you know that any scripture is fact, not fiction?
Many believe the Bible cannot be taken literally. This is a very popular belief system these days among progressive Christians- that the things of the Bible did not all happen. They are stories.
Archeological evidence of the region of where the Bible occurred is continually disproving this theory every day. Literally every day. From Assyrian obelisks referencing Hebrew Kings, inscriptions found naming Pilate of the New Testament, an ossuary bearing the inscription of the high priest Caiaphus, a stele mentioning the House of David, and entire remains of cities matching the description of the Biblical city of Sodom.
The old testament history is, well, old and the fact that they can find anything is amazing. The old Testament is the evidence in many respects in the fact that it has endured like nothing else with the Dead Sea Scrolls to prove it. We will get into that in a minute.
The new testament is remarkable-
On my senior trip and graduation present from high school I went on the trip of a lifetime to Europe. One of my favorite stops was the ancient city of Ephesus. Being a rebellious teenager and not one to read the Bible, let alone know who Paul was, I had no idea this was Ephesus as in Ephesians from the Bible. These places really exist. These places are real places. I walked the streets that Paul walked and didn’t even know it. These people lived.
Is it fact? The places are fact and droves of very smart individuals who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of archeology would agree.
3) Prophesies- How is it One Story?
The old testament, being part of an array of religions holds weight in its reliability.
But the Bible is one story. Once you know and understand Jesus you can see how the whole old testament is preparing the world for Him. All the way to the first pages of Genesis. When Adam and Eve ate the apple and fell to sin God covered them with skins, a sacrifice to cover them. Foreshadowing on the first couple of pages is thick.
In all, there are thousands of prophecies fulfilled with uncanny precision. There are 300 in the old testament written over hundreds of years that fulfilled in detail in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The odds of that happening are less than one in 2000 zeros. By chance? I think not.
From Jesus’ lineage to Him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, the old testament prophesied and the new fulfilled.
See- they go together, the old and new. They give truth when together.
How do we know if what we have is what was originally written?
This helps to know the reliability of the truth about Jesus, His life, and His teachings, but does it help us to know if we have an accurate copy of what was originally written? Had it been altered?
4) What is a Manuscript and is it Reliable?
The printing press was not invented during the time the Bible was written. What they did have were scribes. Their job was to make copies with pristine, and I mean pristine care. These people knew this was the word of God. At times in history, the process of copying was done to this level- If the document became worn and had the potential inaccurate reading it must be copied and the worn copy would be destroyed. During the process, the scribes would count each word and letter on each page. If mistakes were made the whole thing would be thrown out and started again. This was considered a holy job. And precautions were taken as far as to have the scribe bathe each time before he wrote the name of the Lord. They did not take this lightly.
These painstakingly detailed copies are known as manuscripts.
The process of analyzing these manuscripts or any ancient documents is known as textual criticism.
In total there are over 24,000 manuscripts from all over the world. Over 5000 from the new testament alone. To put that into comparison- there are no original manuscripts of any of the famous poet and playwright, William Shakspeare. Did you know that? In fact, there is no hard evidence that he could even write a complete sentence and due to fears of plays being stolen plays were not copied or distributed in his time. But nobody debates his existence or his works from only the 1500s despite evidence to show that his plays were most likely greatly adapted or altered.
Probably the most accurately preserved ancient document aside from the Bible is Homer’s works- the Iliad and the Odyssey. About 1000 with about 300 from mid evil times. Seeing that 99% of ancient texts are lost to the wind, that is pretty good. We don’t typically question its authenticity either.
Now again the Bible- 24,000 with over 5000 from the new testament alone. And think about this, it survived hundreds of years where if found with Christian teachings you would be killed in a horrific way.
5) How is it Translated?
And this is my favorite point because translation was always my biggest hang-up.
What I always thought, and I know many people still believe today that when a new translation is created someone uses the King James version and adapts it to modern English.
Another common belief is that it was in the hands of the most corrupt for years and what we have now hardly resembles that of the early church.
These manuscripts that we just talked about are the oldest most ancient writings of the Bible. These are what are used to create new translations.
A team of very smart individuals, archeologists, anthropologists, linguistic experts, theologians and the like come together and pour over the most original ancient documents.
They go to the originals!
Do all these manuscripts agree 100%. No, and it isn’t a secret. Most are spelling, word order, and synonym adjustments which are inconsequential. Some are bigger modifications and that is where all the little numbers and footnotes come in in your Bible. No one is hiding it from you. You can read it.
Forever there was a tremendous amount of question around some of the old testament writings where there seemed to be many years between the authorship and the manuscripts we had. All that changed when they found the dead sea scrolls, closing hundreds of years gap in books like Isaiah.
The same happened with the new testament when a break in a wall was discovered in an old church revealing ancient manuscripts that could then be compared to what was already had.
Guess what they found in both instances? the manuscripts were the same. God’s word over hundreds of years had been perfectly preserved.
I want to get so much more into translations- check out more in this episode.
6) How do we know these are the only books that should be in the bible?
The canon. That is what the complete works is called.
We hear about additional books floating around and how it was not officialized until Constantine sat around with a bunch of other high-powered dudes and said, “this one is in and this one is out,” all to their benefit, right? That is what you have heard and in many spaces have been taught.
But that is terribly inaccurate.
Theologians believe the canon of the old testament was recognized and complete well before Jesus’ time. There are the second temple writings. This makes up the Deuterocanonical(second canon) that is used in many churches like the catholic church and many orthodox. While these works were used in many respects as historical, their divine inspiration was called into question before and during the Reformation. Moreover, the debate was also about their contribution to the unified, complete story of Jesus and thus divine.
The new testament is the one people truly debate and where Constantine comes in. It is important to remember that before Constantine if you said you were a Christian you were killed. Literally, the entire new testament writings were kept a secret. Among these house churches and the people that made up the early church and body of Christ, there was uniformity and understanding as to what was scripture. If it was written by an apostle or those under them it was regarded as such. Thus, by the first century’s end, the canon of the new testament was already accepted and closed.
When Constantine came into power and Christians were allowed to be public with their faith many things concerning Christianity were talked about and solidified. These councils did not vote on which books are in, but rather mark books that were clearly not written by the author they said they were penned by and/or directly countered the teachings of the accepted gospels were out. For instance, the gospel of Thomas was one such book that was not believed to have been written by Thomas, was written after Thomas would have been alive to write it, and said that Jesus said females are not worthy of life and needed to become male to be saved. Clearly not in line with the books that were solidified as reliable and thus out.
Many things were debated at these councils, but the only Christian books dated confidently to the first century are the ones that made up the new testament and were recognized by Christians as authoritative by the first century’s end.
7) What Does it Say About Itself? Who authored it?
We just talked about the books being authored by men. This gives many people pause- Didn’t God write it? Did man?
Yes, and yes.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
It is God-breathed, inspired, living water, as Jesus said, “It is written,” when He referred to what God instructed.
Did men actually pen it? Yes, and the Bible doesn’t say any different. It is very open about its human authorship, but also its divine inspiration.
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.Luke 1:1-4
8) What Does it Say to You?
Lastly, and most importantly, how does it speak to you?
I will say this when I surrendered my life to God I was not reading the Bible. I was not close to God. I was in a moment of desperation and in need of a savior. I prayed for help and my whole life changed, including my ability to read the Bible with clarity and understanding.
Where I once was lost in the words on the page, I now could not get enough.
I ask and He answers me in His word.
It moves me and stirs a place in my soul I cannot even describe.
Does that only come with the Holy Spirit? Maybe.
But one thing I cannot deny is the peace it gives me.
It is living water to my soul.
All the proof I need.
** Note: For every ounce of textural, archeological, social, anthropological, and what seems to be irrefutable evidence in one direction there is a pound in the other by someone who holds a different opinion. If you want to find someone who believes strongly in support of something very opposite of what is written here, you can probably find it. This is where my research and experience have landed me.
Resources used in this article:
A Case for Christ, Revised & Updated, by Lee Strobel
Another Gospel?, by Alisa Childers
Making of the Bible [Extended Version] Tim Mackie (The Bible Project)- https://youtu.be/eaqKzYJ151Y
The God Who Speaks (2018) | Full Movie | Alistair Begg | Darrell Bock | D.A. Carson- https://youtu.be/MmJrRx663hgWebsite
Can We Trust the Bible? https://radical.net/article/can-we-trust-the-bible/
10 Reason you Can Trust the Bible- https://www.eternitynews.com.au/good-news/10-reasons-you-can-trust-the-bible/
…And countless hours in other podcasts, websites, articles, books, sermons, and lectures.