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Missionaries et al. SINGLE PAGE

Introductory and General Information
  Missionary Christianity - A Muslim's Analysis
Author: Gary Miller
Article ID : MSS020001  [29459]  
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Some attempts have been made to prove the divine origin of the Bible. These fall into two categories: an appeal to accuracy and an appeal to miracles. In the first case we are given a number of historical or scientific points mentioned in Bible verses. What is left vague is why accurate statements should imply the work of God. The Bible makes contact with reality, but so do works of fiction. In fact, a man has to tell us some truth before he can lie to us. We do not mean to label the Bible as totally fictitious, but only to point out the weakness of an argument for divine origin of the Bible which is based on assorted accurate statements made in Bible verses. There are attempts made to dazzle us into belief by those who cite miracles performed by the Bible! For example, Ivan Panin spent 50 years writing over 43,000 pages investigating Bible numerics. There are however, basic flaws in such an approach. First, Panin builds schemes around the numbers seven and eleven, and he the position value of letters and other devices. But the Bible does not state that these things have any relevance. Nowhere has God said: "Behold the miracle of seven and eleven!" Second, "numerical miracles" are cited especially in regard to their the Bible "perfectly preserved" accuracy. Yet the Bible also contains numerical inconsistencies. Various statistics in the Biblical books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah are in conflict and this is excused as being only minor details which were lost over the years. Preservation of numbers is praised while the lack of preservation is excused. Third, the "discoveries" of these researchers tend to be self-reinforcing. For example, Panin himself revised the New Testament based on his ideas. Where some text is faulty or doubtful, he decides on the basis of that which fits his scheme. One author of "theomatics" maintained that the anonymous book of Hebrews was written by Paul because this would mean the total number of books in the Bible credited to Paul would then be equal to fourteen -a multiple of seven.

And there is the "miracle'' of personal experience: "The Bible is true because it changed my life." Of course, any piece of literature is supposed to change the life of a thoughtful reader. To be fair, believers in the dazzling sort of miracle are less common than those who appeal on grounds resembling personal experience. In any case the "miracles" are unrelated to the conclusion that they are supposed to establish - the divine origin of the entire Bible. Meanwhile, the appeal to accuracy is also an insufficient premise to establish this conclusion.

WHAT IS THE BIBLE?

As it happens, the title "Bible" is a name not found in the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible name itself as a unit. Actually it is at least 66 separate writings which have been bound as one book. The earlier catalogue of contents that agrees with the present text dates from the fourth century. This indicates that the Bible has no internal claim of unity. Of course, the writings speak of other writings, scriptures and books but not as the unit of today's collection. Almost the last verse in the Bible commands that "nothing should be added to or subtracted from this book". While this has been quoted as a unifying statement, any Christian source will verify that the last book in the Bible was not the last book written. Thus the statement can only apply to this particular small book of the Bible's 66.

A MISSING CLAIM

Nowhere does the Bible sum itself up as totally God's word. However, the missionary argument proceeds this way. At 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul says that all scripture is inspired of God. In 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter says that Paul is correct because Paul too is a writer of scripture. Surely this is not supposed to convince anyone! "Paul says so and Peter says he is right." This kind of argument would not satisfy us if we were investigating any matter. Moreover, we have Paul's denial of his own total inspiration at 1 Corinthians 7:25. Here he states that he writes without God's inspiration on a subject.

About one third of the books in the Bible claim to be divine revelations while the others make no such comment. Because of this lack, the Fundamentalist type of Christian has tried to find other justification for maintaining his claim, as mentioned above.

AN ARTICLE OF FAITH


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