Here is a short story that will illustrate a point. A visitor from a foreign land comes for a people in another land not his own. He is carrying a book and he presents it the people. He begins to tell them that their way of life is backward and displeasing to the gods and that their nakedness is offensive to him and that they must cover themselves even in the searing heat. He goes on to teach them from the book that he is carrying and convinces the people that the God in His book is far superior to the others. In fact, he tells them that there are no other gods. In time, he implants images in their minds of a God and Savior, of the first man and woman, and of Angels that look like him. The people look at themselves and think that they are somehow inferior to this visitor from another land who does not look like them. The people eventually begin to accept the White man’s God and grow fearful of this God and even fearful of even thinking of him as someone who looks like them. This visitor tells them that the book that he is carrying is the Word of God and that this book must be followed and believed in. The people accept this without question, challenge, or investigation out of fear of being punished by this god. The older ones die off, but before they do, they pass on what this visitor told them to their children and their children to their children.
The answer I am about to give to the question, “Is The Bible The Word of God” may come as a surprise or shock to some, yet it is my hope that you will be able to see the truth in the answer I provide.
Because You Say So?
As an African American living in the United States and having been subjected to racial injustice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness from many White Americans who do not like Black people because we are different from them and – especially when we question them in matters of politics, religion or morality – are the ones who are telling us and the world how things are going to be because “they say so.”
For example, as an American, I have the right to peaceful protest against injustices of all sorts. Almost always any injustice perpetrated upon people of color in the United States are by White people. Even though many of them do not want to hear it, American history confirms this. But the point I wanted to make was that even though I have the right to peaceful protest, it is White people in America who are telling me how and when I am to protest. In other words, it has to be their way. This transitions into the story I told above and into the answer to the question, “Is the Bible The Word of God.”
The Caucasian race of people has told the world at large that the Bible is the Word of God. It is because THEY say so many assume it must be true and so they accept that it is without question, challenge, or investigation. But is it? And, should one believe it is so because they say so?
What Is The Bible Really?
It is a compilation of 66 books that men took upon themselves to decide were authentic and should be placed together and called the Bible. One should think long and hard on this when considering if the Bible is The Word of God.
It was in 325 AD that Roman Emperor Constantine – who was not a follower of Christ – presided over the Council of Nicaea. This Council consisted of many “Bishops” who held varying beliefs. They constantly squabbled over issues over doctrinal issues and were never able to reach agreements among themselves. The squabbling became so intense that civil unrest was being threatened.
They squabbled over whether Jesus was divine or not, whether he was God or God’s Son, or was he just a great teacher or prophet, what was his relationship to his Father in heaven, did he die and was resurrected and taken up into heaven? These were controversies that the Bishops bickered over for years and were not able to reach agreement or compromise.
Finally, in exasperation, Emperor Constantine himself intervened and imposed some compromises by direct imperial edict. The principal compromise was simple: Jesus and God the father were of “the same substance” – whatever that meant, but the dear emperor didn’t exactly delve into what that actually entailed. But the bishops had little choice but go along with that concept, even if the details were murky to nonexistent.
So here we have a “politician” dictating doctrine.
The principal issue being settled, as well as several others, by imperial edict, the Bishops went on to hammer out a statement of a few common doctrines that they agreed upon (mostly with regard to the date for Easter celebrations, the creation and the nature of the universe, and the first version of the Apostolic Creed). That agreement is now known as the Nicene Creed.
So some of the most important so-called Christian doctrines many follow today were the result of the edict of a politician, whose conversion and commitment to Christian ideology itself was highly questionable at best.
Emperor Constantine commissioned Eusebius, the bishop of Caesaria, to create an official Christian Bible for him to present to the new churches he was constructing at his new capital of Constantinople in time for his new festival of the resurrection, to be called “Easter.” He wanted Eusebius to produce only fifty copies, please.
Eusebius called his compilation “Inspired Oracles.” Eusebius was deeply worried about the contradictions that his “Inspired Oracles” contained and the political dynamite that could ensue should those contradictions become a matter of dispute among the masses, or, far worse, in the mind of the Emperor.
As correlation and standardization were the orders of the day (under the less-than-gentle hand of the Council of Nicea), Eusebius could clearly see a very Imperial problem was brewing and was determined to head it off if he could. Eusebius’ revisionism is particularly unfortunate for modern scholars, in that the only versions we have of many early Christian documents are ones known to have passed through his scrutiny.
Everyone had their list of favorite books and letters; the various factions, with headquarters in Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Carthage all had their own ideas as to what was or should be Scripture. And they certainly didn’t agree, in spite of the heavy hand of the Council of Nicea.
Eventually, after the split with Rome, the compilation of Eusebius was to become the standard bible of the Eastern church.
The task of compiling and translating a Bible for the Roman or Western church fell to Bishop Jerome of Dalmatia (340-420 C.E). Jerome’s compilation and translation into Latin became known as the Vulgate Bible. It was to become the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic church until the sixteenth century.
This Latin Bible was widely available for those who could afford a copy. Latin as a spoken and understood language eventually began to die out among the peoples of what had been the Roman Empire. So, with that dying out, access to the Bible by the common man also died out. While Bibles were available in Latin, they were not being translated into the rapidly diverging local languages. The church eventually exploited this situation by making the reading of the Bible by the common man a crime, at times even punishable by death. This law was intended to enhance the local power of the priesthood.
Enhance the power of the Priesthood it did. Not only did they have the political power of Constantine’s legacy behind them, the Priesthood also now held the keys to the church in their hands, both figuratively and literally. They couldn’t have been more happy with that situation. They could often engage in acts of cruelty, repression or corruption and not be called to account by an ignorant and often superstitious congregation.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, translations of Psalms appeared by William of Shoreham and Richard Rolle, in Middle English. Their popular translations planted the seeds of rebellion designed to break the stranglehold of the Clergy and put the Bible in the hands of the lay people.
John Wycliffe (1330-1384) was repulsed by papal corruption and its demands on the English for money. So he decided that the best way to shake things up and get at the Clergy and the Pope, would be to publish the Bible in English.
So Mr. Wycliffe translated the Latin Vulgate into English.
A scholar by the name of William Tyndale had the ambition of translating into English the entire Bible, not from the Latin Vulgate, but from the original Greek and Hebrew. This became his life’s work. But since the Roman Catholic church opposed his translation of the Bible into English, Tyndale was forced to leave England for Germany in 1524. For the next two years, staying one step ahead of Papal persecution, he managed to complete his first translation of the New Testament, which was then printed and smuggled into England and snapped up by an eager public.
Tyndale worked for years on his Hebrew translations of the Old Testament, finally completing them in 1534 and revising his New Testament in 1535. While not as violently opposed as were the earlier works, he was still betrayed by the Romanists and was strangled and burned at the stake after months in prison in 1536. His last words were reputedly, “Lord, please open the King of England’s eyes!”
King Henry VIII was the first English king to ask that a Bible is placed in the hands of the common man. His motive was also likely to have been to cop a snook at the Pope in Rome, as a result of the fact that the Pope had refused to grant him a divorce. The bible chosen was The Great Bible, a work edited by the less-than-scholarly Miles Coverdale. Coverdale was an associate of Tyndale, and his Bible was the first to be an officially approved bible in English. Coverdale was no scholar but had based much of his work on that of Tyndale who was. A flood of translations and revisions followed, the most notable being the Rogers bible appeared in 1537 and the Taverner’s Bible in 1539.
In 1604, King James of England called a conference at Hampton Court. In attendance were 47 scholars and clerics. The agenda was to organize the production of a bible that would satisfy the needs of all — the clergy, the king, the common man. An ambitious goal, considering the widely disparate points of view each with a political investment.
The King James Version first appeared in 1611. It did not gain immediate acceptance. It took a half century to displace the bibles that came before it.
Now, I hope you the reader see what I am getting at here. What we have in hand today was first dictated and decreed into existence by a politician only because clergymen could not reach an agreement. From the Council of Nicaea onward, all translations were either the result of having an opposing view with the power hungry and authoritarian Priesthood or out of fear of an Emperor. There was constant bickering, civil unrest, and even executions?
Does this sound to you like something that God would allow or do in order to get His word to the people?
What we have in place right now and what is called “The Bible” was forged by men out of fear of men (or an Emperor) and out of rebellion against the Clergy. It is that simple. Yet, many ascribe this compilation of 66 books as The Word of God.
Who Is the Word of God?
We do have enough information today to conclude that God sent into the world one of his Sons – his only begotten – the one many know today as Jesus Christ. No compilation of an arrogant, divided, and confused time period of 325 AD can claim the name of The Word of God.
Are we to believe that there are two Words of God? One, a series of 66 books that men compiled and named the Bible. The other, the person of Jesus Christ?
No. It is Jesus and Jesus alone who is The Word of God.
It is a grave mistake to assign to a book and imagine for ourselves that it is The Word of God; especially against the backdrop of how it was formed.
While it is true, God is quoted by the writers of the various books within the compilation called the Bible, but the book itself is not The Word of God.
It is true that 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is inspired of God. But what Scripture? The Scriptures extant in the Apostle Paul’s day or those men dug up and found in caves and compiled into what they call the Bible?
There was no compilation of 66 books called The Bible in the Apostles day. So one must be careful in assuming that the “all Scripture” as mentioned at 2 Tim 3:16 is referring to what men today call the Bible.
How Did Jesus View The Old Law?
If we look at an instance in Matthew Chapter 5:21-43, Jesus taught that his followers were not to adhere to the teachings of the Law of Moses or Law given to Moses. The point being made here is that his followers today should not read something from the Hebrew Scriptures and assume that it is now God’s standing Word.
For example, listen to what and how Jesus addresses those he is speaking to at Matthew 5:21:
YOU heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You must not murder; but whoever commits a murder will be accountable to the court of justice.’ However, I say to YOU that everyone who continues wrathful with his brother will be accountable to the court of justice; but whoever addresses his brother with an unspeakable word of contempt will be accountable to the Supreme Court; whereas whoever says, ‘You despicable fool!’ will be liable to the fiery Ge·hen′na.
Notice that Jesus contrasts what has said long ago to what he now says.
Continued reading in Matthew Chapter 5 shows this contrasting pattern.
What does this mean for those of us today who claim to be his followers? It means that we are to listen to him – he is the Word of God, not a compilation of 66 books that men call the Bible.
Is The Bible Beneficial?
Absolutely. There is no harm in reading it. There is a concern of making it what it is not: The Word of God. The Most High God did not send into the world a book to be His spokesman, He sent His Son.
The book called the Bible should have never been elevated to the lofty and “holy” position men made it. And, neither should it have been given the title that belongs to only one, Jesus Christ, The Word of God.
People are so confused that they will say things like, “The Bible says …” or “The Bible teaches …” without ever thinking that the Bible is not a living thing and neither is it a speaker or a teacher. Christ, the Son of God and The Word of God is our only Teacher and those expressions should be “Christ says …” or “Christ teaches …”
Yet, men have made for themselves a substitute Word of God and the call it the Bible.
They have convinced themselves and others that there is no “other way” to learn about The Most High God except for the Bible. That mentality in itself shows their lack of faith and confidence in The Most High God and the one He sent.
Never did The Most High God or His Son say that a book would be sent into the world to explain and teach humankind about Him. No! Rather, it would be a Son. And, after that Son ascended, it did not end there. That Son told his disciples that would ask the Father to send them – not a book – but a Helper or Comforter that would teach them. That Helper or Comforter is the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit would come to them via “one channel” or “way,” Christ himself, not a book. There is no other way. A book is NOT that way. (John 14:15-26, John 14:6, John 10:9)
A priceless teaching can be obtained not through a book, but by doing as Jesus taught us: By asking the Father in heaven in his name. Prayer! A most misused and underutilized gift from God.
What is more beneficial and important for all of us is that we seek and worship the God that we cannot see. That we ask him in prayer via His Son Jesus Christ for His wisdom and understanding. It will be through His Son – not through the established religious systems – that we will receive it. There are many who have yet to grasp the importance of this.
Religious authority of all sorts would have you believe that receipt of God’s wisdom and understanding must come through them and what is called “The Bible.”
Are they saying that God does not have the ability to communicate with those sincerely seeking Him? Are they saying that Jesus is not the Word of God but the Bible is? In a sense, they are.
The Church-system propagates so forcefully the thought that the Bible is the word of God, that it becomes the primary thing that people turn to and read from rather than turning primarily to God through His Son, who is The Word of God.
What flows forth from God through his Son is pure and untainted by political turmoil, rebellion, and fear of men. It flows from the Most High God Himself through His Son to us. All we have to do is ask for it.
Religious organization wants you to focus primarily on a collection of 66 books and they want you to believe that it is The Word of God.
Jesus is The Word God.
As Scripture teaches, we are to listen to Jesus and him only – not organizations of men who presumptuously and arrogantly purport to speak in Jesus’ behalf. So says Scripture:
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him. (Luke 9:35)
No one of importance. A disciple (student) of Christ apart from the established religious systems who reasons, thinks and concludes matters for myself. Something is not right with the state of religion in the world. The real dichotomy is that we live in a world so full of religion, yet is an evil, immoral, and dangerous place to live. A mental and spiritual separation from this world that Jesus said his kingdom is no part of is the first step to a "break-through" to freedom and entry into a much larger spiritual world where God and Christ resides and the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God can be accessed.