The Authority and Inspiration of Scriptures

As Christians, we begin with the assumption that the Holy Bible is God’s Word and it is the truth.  We further believe that the Bible is the complete revelation of God’s plan and purpose for humanity and the universe.  No matter the age of the world, the culture of any people, the scientific or technological level of advancement, we hold that everything in the Bible is true for all humanity. Since God is eternal, then so must be his Words. Thus the Bible is relevant for any time in history and in the future to come. These Christian truth claims we hold to because they are based on the authority of the God who created all and who must necessarily be self-sufficient, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.

From the book of Genesis to Revelation, the Holy Bible comprises a canon of sixty-six (66) books.  Each is an inspired work of God of the Universe.  This complete and all inclusive one-volume encyclopedia is commonly known as God’s Word.  It is a work of necessity and divine strategy demonstrating that God exists.  As we experience the Scriptures, we come to know God’s love, justice, and mercy for the human race and the universe at large.  It is the comprehensive plan for humanity’s salvation.  It articulates and demonstrates the means by which the human race can restore the sacred relationship it once enjoyed with the Creator. 

Friendship With God

Since the beginning and after the fall of humanity, God developed the salvific plan.  This required that persons first acknowledge that they are sinners against God Almighty.  Following their confession and knowledge that they themselves cannot undo their sins or make reparations for it, but need to do so through Jesus Christ, they then submit to his Lordship over their lives.  He is God incarnate in human form who died for the sins of the world but has risen from the grave and ascended into heaven—thus conquering death.  He now sits on the right hand of God the Father where he now has authority over all of heaven and earth.  Only through him can we have salvation of our souls.

Humans by their disobedience fell out of grace with God and were heading along the wrong path.  This disobedience, as seen in Genesis 3 and known as the original sin, was committed by the first Adam and his mate, Eve.  They violated God’s direct command by eating from the tree of knowledge by yielding to the temptation of the serpent.  The crafty and evil serpent distorted what God had said to Adam, with an interpretation that was provocative and appealing. He told Eve that if she ate of the tree of knowledge, she “…will be like a god.”  She believed him and she did eat.  Satan played on the obvious ignorance of humans and he succeeded.

Later when God was looking for Adam and Eve in the Garden, he noticed they were hiding from Him.  Now they learned shame.  They also experienced guilt.  Here is perhaps the first instance of the clear workings of the human conscience.  In this experience both Adam and Eve were convicted by the truth that dwelt within them[i].  They willingly disobey an instruction from God.  When God questioned them about their reason for hiding from Him and for their disobedience, Eve “passed the buck” to the serpent; Adam blamed Eve and even implied that God Himself was accountable as He gave Eve to be Adam’s mate.  Sin was thereafter running in the blood of humanity as evidenced in the lies of the children of the first parents of the human race.  We see later in Genesis 4, Cain murdered Abel due to jealousy of the blessings God placed on Abel for the kind of sacrifice Abel made to the Lord.  When God asked for Abel, Cain lied saying that he did not know where Abel was.  Thus the human race continued along the path of sin and destruction: beginning with disobedience, blaming, hiding, jealousy, murder, and lying. 

John 3:16 is clear on the point of God’s love for all humans, so much so that his only begotten Son has died as a ransom or satisfaction for our sins (Heb. 9:15).  Despite the views of theologians, regarding Jesus as a ransom or satisfaction, the fact is, they all agree that he sacrificed his life for the sins of the world and God allowed it.  We remember his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane as he asked “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt. 26:39).  Clearly, Jesus was carrying out God’s plan faithfully.  Why?  Christ himself said that he was the son of man and he came to die for the sins of the world.  Thereafter, all can go to God through Jesus who says, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6)

Despite our sinful nature, Paul said that God wants to save all Israel (Rom. 11:26; 1 Tim. 2:4).  This Scripture refers to all people—the Jews and the gentiles, the believers and the nonbelievers alike.  There is no discrimination of country, culture, and race, social or economic or educational status.  Hence whosoever has been informed of God’s grace by the salvific plan and then believes in His word, shall be saved and enter into an eternal sacred romance with God. 

Thus He authoritatively, as our Creator, wrote the divine how-to-do-it manual called the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16), which includes guidelines of how we can live peacefully together, relate well with Him, and be custodians of the lands (Gen. 1:26; 2:15).  We know that Jesus did live and walked on this earth.  So the stories about him are not fiction, but facts supported by archeological findings, as well as folklore and traditional history.  The findings of the Dead Sea scrolls have given scientific evidence which add to the credibility of Christianity’s Biblical recorded history.  According to the skeptics and the cynics, they claim that the Holy Bible was at most allegorical and only folklore.

Further, one can find proof of the flood, the nine pestilences, healings by Jesus, and many of the miracles reported in the Holy Bible of the Christians.  Many of us witness healings even today done in the name and empowerment of Jesus the Christ.  There are many writings about the archeological and scientific history of Christianity for those who need deeper and objective proof of the life of the Christ and the truth of the Scriptures.  Now even Jesus spoke of the Scriptures as God’s word.  At that time Jesus knew the Scriptures as the Mosaic Laws of which God or Yahweh was the author.  It was always Moses’ wish that his people would also hear from God.  God did speak to them after Moses was gone, just as He had done with Moses, Abraham, Noah and others.  All these occurrences were passed on from generation to generation as stories from the elders to children of Isreal.  They were recorded by the recognized methods of keeping archives at that time.

In these Scriptures, we see the Holy Bible, as life itself (John 5:24; Acts 13:46; Phil. 2:16; 1 John 1:1).  By being in enmity with God as we blatantly breached our relationship and friendship with Him, we condemned ourselves to eternal damnation.  So God sets out the process of our restoration to His image (Heb. 211; 10:10, 14), and our fellowship with Him (2 Ti. 2:21; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16).

He further warns us, that it is sinful to add, subtract, modify from His word, for the Holy Scriptures is flawless (Prov. 30.5, 6; Rev. 22:18, 19).  Authentic archeological finds known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, over the last few years, have been validating the truthfulness and accuracy of the Holy Scriptures or Christian Bible. The Scriptures have been written by inspiration, according to the claims in the Holy Bible, and Jesus Christ did live in history.  Clearly, and biblically speaking, there can be no question about the completeness of God’s revelation from Genesis to Revelation.  Thus any ‘scriptural’ literature with contents in opposition to or that is not in sync with the Holy Bible, is false.

Scriptural Authority

As stated above, the word Scriptures, as used here, refers to God’s word which we call the Holy Bible.  God, the Creator of the entire universe, is immortal, all knowing, and is both transcendent and immanent.  He is sovereign as ruler of this universe and He knows our hearts, the past, present, and future of all existences.  He is loving, merciful, and just.  As I have argued in the first chapter, the God of the Old and New Testaments is the same and is compassionate.  He is aware and active in every aspect of our lives and has created all the ordinances which are operative within the world in which we live.  He does not always direct our paths, though He is ever aware of our tendencies and choices.  He blessed us with free will.

Upon what basis can we make all these claims regarding the God of the Holy Christian Bible?  What authority has the Scriptures?  Erickson has defined authority as “…the right to command belief and or action”[ii].  In this sense, Scriptures must have the right to instruct us on authentic doctrines as well as how we should behave in our lifestyles.  The word authority suggests to us a sense of status or positioning and it implies levels.  We can envision graduated levels from the lowest to the highest.  Along with this envisioning, is the idea of obedience of the lower to the higher, in graduated levels of authority.  We may go further in our thinking that with authority there must exist at least two coexisting conscious beings.  There would not be any constructive survival of an organization or a group of at least two without an authority structure.  Some must be accountable to enforce the rules.  This structure assures the fulfillment of any existing purpose.

Authority also alludes to control along with the idea of superiority and inferiority. In Genesis, God gave man to be the stewards of the creations of earth. Adam then had the power and right to name the plants and other living things. He was operating under delegated authority. We will remember that Scripture declared in Matthew that Jesus, upon his resurrection, now had authority over all the earth, world, and all else (Matt. 28:18).  While on earth, Jesus demonstrated his authority over the windstorms and nature (Matt. 8:26, 27).  He command diseases to go and had authority over death and life. Whatever he willed did happen because of this divine authority and right. Many were healed, Lazarus returned from the grave, demons flee, and he personally conquered death.

Authority requires a subject and a predicate.  The subject is the one with the right and power call authority. The predicate is the element or entity which must cooperate or yield to the action of authority.  In case there is no cooperation or one party is not functioning as he or she ought, there must be a “way” to encourage and ensure their reestablishing of the group’s performance level.  This “way” is the “application of authority”.  If one party either does not perform by choice or circumstance, the impetus of authority can cause the correction of the shortfall and so bring about adjustment.  Here the authority figures will compel or make it compulsory for the other party to perform. This procedure is also true in humanity’s stewardship of the earth. We do have power over our environment. This power is biblically based.  It was God-given from the beginning of the world.

Kenneth S. Kantzer said, “The Bible alone is the infallible rule of faith and practice.  It alone can speak with the authority of the omniscient God Himself.  It alone can tell man what [we] ought to believe, and what [we] ought to do”[iii].  Further, Armstrong quoted a Lutheran theologian Edward W. A. Koehler who wrote: “To ignore, disregard, or reject any doctrine of the Bible is rebellion against God’s authority, and will not go unpunished”[iv].

The Main Protagonist

We are also informed that the “crown” or central figure of the Holy Scriptures according to Charles H. Dodd[v], is Jesus Christ.  Erickson said, “ultimately … every knee will bow and every tongue confess who and what he is” (Phil. 2:10-11).  Erickson was referring to the Lordship, the position of authority of Christ—the anointed one.  Kantser stated, “the Bible … is not merely a book which contains the Word of God.  [It is the] living Word of God, calling [humans] into fellowship with Himself; [But hearing God’s Word], may lead [humanity] to Jesus Christ and the revelation of God”[vi].  He also noted that Jesus Christ’s gospel is clear enough that “[people] may hear it, understand it, receive it, and be saved”[vii].

We notice the bold claim of Jesus Christ himself who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” (John 14:6, 7).  Erickson quoted Oscar Cullmann who said, “there can be no Heilsgeschichte (salvation history) without Christology (what Jesus has done in history); no Christology without a Heilsgeschichte which unfolds in time.”[viii]  Therefore the New Testament with its new dispensation of how the fellowship between God and humans can be restored is totally dependent on what Jesus Christ has done, said, believed, and stood for (and is still standing for).  All Bible believing, faith-seeking-understanding Christians resolutely accept Jesus’ claim of Lordship and authority.

We see that God’s salvation plan to restore the relationship between Himself and the human race was already suggested in the beginning, just after “the fall”.  We read that God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).  My NIV Bible says, ‘“he will crush your head” foreshadows Satan’s defeat when Christ rose from the dead.  A strike on the heel is not deadly, but a crushing blow to the head is.’[ix]  Many modern and ancient theologians see this verse as a promise of a particular prophecy that Jesus, as the seed of the woman, will crush Satan’s head.  Van Dam says, “the enmity of which God spoke in Gen. 3:15 was a curse for the serpent but a blessing for Adam and Eve and the believing seed.  The full victory implied in these words was initially fulfilled in Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.”[x]

Scriptural Inerrancy

Kantser said, “By [the] act of divine inspiration the Bible here and now becomes the contemporary, living Word of God…”[xi].  “The inerrancy of Scripture [or God’s Word]”, according to Erickson, “is the doctrine that the Bible is fully truthful in all of its teachings.”[xii]  Further, Erickson pointed out “Jesus, Paul, and others regarded and employed details of Scripture as authoritative.”[xiii]  The Scripture “was written” or “breathed out” by God (2 Tim. 3:16), as we shall see later, and God is the same in the past, present, and future (Heb. 8:13).  As Erickson stated, since God “cannot be ignorant of or in error on any matter,” then the Scriptures must be absolutely true.  Erickson is supported by St. Augustine who declared, “what Scripture says, God says”[xiv].

Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Tim. 3:16, NKIV).  Erickson said, “by inspiration of Scripture we mean that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writers which rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or which resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God”[xv].  The Bible say, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” (2 Pet. 1:21, ESV).  The assumption here is that the Holy Spirit is of God or is God Himself.  Either of these assumptions is fact.  Very clearly, in the Bible we read that the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit and is therefore God.  Peter said:

“Annanias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your control?  Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

Clearly, Peter has equated the Holy Spirit with God.  In fact, he called the Holy Spirit God when he questioned Annanias of lying to the Holy Spirit and then accused him saying that Annanias did not lie ‘to men, but to God.’

Erickson said, “In Acts 1:16 Peter says, ‘Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David….’”  Inspiration is the divine infilling of the human by God.  That is, God speaking through his elect.  Armstrong quoted Heinrich Heppe who said, “…Scripture alone has its source in God, who, by the Holy Spirit, is its Author”[xvi].

Divine Inspiration

Inspiration is sometimes confused with illumination.  Erickson said, “the illumination theory maintains that there is an influence of the Holy Spirit upon the authors of Scripture, but involving only a heightening of their normal powers.  There is no special communication of truth, nor guidance in what is written.”[xvii]  Thus the Holy Spirit increased the sensitivity and responsivity of the author’s own perception abilities.  This does not necessarily mean that special or specific communication of truth took place.  In this view, therefore, the illumined person has a raised level of consciousness and ability to understand spiritual laws and sublime realities or experiences.

The minds of Plato, Socrates, Confucius, Lao-Tsu and others were illumined.  They were sharpened and had high levels of perceptivity and sensitivity.  They were able to discern universal truths where the average humans could not.  Yet they were not inspired by the Holy Spirit to write His words, His truths and His teachings that lead to Salvation and eternal life.  Such illumined minds were able to articulate many Cosmic and Universal principles and laws.  There are practices, techniques, and methodologies by means of which we may contact the Universal Mind of God and be likewise enlightened.  But this does not mean we are ‘inspired as were the Bible writers.’

There is also the intuition theory of inspiration, which implies that the Bible’s author had a high degree of insight.  This is not an influence of the Holy Spirit upon their abilities of perception, as it is in illumination; rather, it is a natural endowment.  Here the subconscious mind suggests a solution or interpretation which “pops up” without warning into our objective consciousness.  We commonly call this a hunch or gut feeling.  We may later see the logic and reason that support the intuition we had.

It is the Holy Spirit who inspired the writings of the Bible and its interpretation.  Jesus said, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:13-14). Here Jesus is speaking with Absolute authority regarding the actions of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the inspired Word of God.  We remember too, that Jesus is Lord and every knee shall bow to him (2 Phil. 5:10-11).  We also remember that he was God incarnate in human form; and that he now has authority over all the worlds.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  Dodd said, “If the Bible as a whole is a revelation of God, and the crown of this revelation is the life of Jesus Christ, then we may start by asking, How did Jesus reveal God?”[xviii]  In this statement is implied the words of Isaiah who prophesied of the lamb led to slaughter for the sins of man.  This lamb was the Immanuel—God with us (Isa. 7:14; 53:7-12).  When Christ read the prophetic words in the Old Testament writings in the synagogue, he said to the listeners, that the Scriptures he just now read has been fulfilled that day.  He meant that He was the fulfillment of the Scriptures (Matt. 5:17).  Dodd said, “[Christ] has faced the question: How can I know Christ speaks of God with authority?”  and Jesus replied, wrote Dodd: “He who is willing to do God’s will can recognize whether the teaching (of Jesus) is from God or not (John 7:17)”[xix].

Perhaps one of the most important Scriptures for all humans is 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21.  These Scriptures illustrate and prove God’s love for all humans who acknowledge Him as Creator and author of our lives.  Thus we accept him as having supreme authority.  In these Scriptures and in others we are assured that it is His words that are written in the Holy Bible, not humans’.  We are confident, as he made sure, by “personally” guaranteeing their inscription, by choosing special people (his elect) through whom  he will work and then inspiring them by “breathing” his words into them with his Holy Spirit.  How sweet our salvation knowing that He empowered the writing of the Scriptures—the sole authority of our Christian living, evangelism, and hope.

[i] Riley, Christopher. When Conscience Speaks, PublishAmerica LLLP, P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD, USA, 21705, 2007, pg. 30-42.

[ii] Erickson, J. Millard.  Christian Theology (Second Edition). Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516. pg. 268.

[iii] Kantzer, Kenneth S. “The Authority of the Bible” in The Living God, ed. Millard J. Erickson. Baker Books—a division of Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 49516.  © 1973. Pg. 155.

[iv] Armstrong, John, H. “The Authority of Scripture”, (Sola Scriptura, ed. Don Kistler, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, P.O. Box 451, Morgan, PA 15064.  © 1995.) p.100.

[v] Dodd, Charles, H.  “How God Is Known”.  Ed. Erickson, J. Millard, (The Living God).  Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516.  pg 268.

[vi] Kantser, Kenneth S. pg. 159.

[vii] Ibid. pg 159.

[viii] Erickson, Millard J. pg 716.

[ix] Life Application Bible [New International Version].  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois AND Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.  ©1991. Pg. 12

[x] Van Dam, Cornelis. Ed. Willem A. VanGemeren et al.  “Crush,” Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI., ©1997.  Pg. 67.

[xi] Kantser, Kenneth S. pg. 159.

[xii] Erickson, Millard J. pg 247.

[xiii] Erickson, Millard J. pg 251.

[xiv] Armstrong, John H. pg. 105.

[xv] Erickson, Millard J. pg 225.

[xvi] Armstrong, John H. pg. 121.

[xvii] Erickson, Millard J. pg 232.

[xviii] Dodd, Charles, H.  “How God Is Known”.  Ed. Erickson, J. Millard, (The Living God).  Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516. pg. 268.

[xix] Dodd, Charles, H.  ed. Erickson, J. Millard. Pg. 269.

False Allegations Against God

God’s wrath in the Old Testament has been used as the justification by many in their claim that the Christian God is not compassionate; that He is vengeful and even genocidal. There are those who claim that He is unjust, racial by His election of the Israelites  and guilty as an ethnic cleanser. These allegations and more form the basis for many persons having moved away from God; others shun the idea of becoming a Christian; and there are those who claimed to now have become born again agnostics or atheists. Many, as a result, doubt the accuracy and inspiration of the Bible. The above notions are some of the poisonous ideas that are rampant in our societies today. These dangerous ideas must be counteracted and their flames extinguished. It is the duty of every Christian to be ready to give reasonable responses to these allegations (1 Pet. 3:15).

It is crucial, therefore, for all Christians to understand what they claim as their beliefs. If we do not, we cannot give good reasons for Christianity’s truth claims. In fact, we would be unable to even state clearly what those claims are. In face of criticism and skepticism  our Christian worldview would appear to be bankrupt. But more than this, young Christians and new converts would become vulnerable to ungodly truths and twisted scriptural interpretations. In either instance, we become victims and move away from the real truth or “...what Francis Schaeffer called ‘true truth,’ truth that is true, independent to anyone’s attitude towards it,” as Art Lindsley writes in his book, Love The Ultimate Apologetic [1]. It is this ‘true truth’ that ensures us a better life and eternal friendship with Jesus Christ.

In this chapter, I intend to show, building upon the premise that God exists, that the following actions are reasonable, logical, and rationally acceptable:--

  1. that the recorded actions deemed to be caused by God in the Old Testament are properly rational, just, and reasonable;
  2. that the actions of God in the Old Testament are similar in principle and purpose to those in the New Testament and in today’s world; and
  3. that the judgements, by the God of the Old Testament were not compassionate, is profoundly and pervasively in error.

I contend, using a quasi adversarial method, that the actions of the Christian God in the Old Testament show his love, compassion, fairness, and mercy for humanity. Further, it is a gross misunderstanding and erroneous perception, within the proper context, to see God’s actions as vengeful, genocidal, and infanticidal.

The importance of this exercise at the start of the discussions in this series of articles is driven by the popularity of ungodly views and trends today—some of which has been legalized  Our societies have made the homosexual lifestyle legal; we no longer shudder at the practice of abortion. Instead of promoting sexual abstinence by teenagers, we hand out free condoms. In courts, all truth claims are equal. There is no longer a day of the week reserved by our society for honouring God—businesses are opened 24-7. Many of our provincial or state and federal leaders declare publicly that their religious views are separate from the actions they must take as politicians. Right and wrong now scramble for a sound and consistent basis—their ground is as pliable as if playing musical chairs.

The Judgement

The new atheists today claim and have written that the Old Testament God was genocidal, infanticidal, and outright wicked. Here is a list of philosophers, scientists, and other writers who fall into this group or share similar viewpoints. We have such philosophers as Immanuel Kant, David Hume, J. L. Mackie, H. J. McCloskey, and Friedric Wilhelm Nietzsche, as well as scientist Richard Dawkins and writer Christopher Hitchens. God, they further claimed, is guilty of ethnic cleansing and more evil acts. The reality of personal, social, or natural evils has always been a major factual objection to the existence and perfect goodness of the Christian view of God. It is this reality that forms part of the core of the present contention.

If the above statements are true, then on the surface we must agree that the God of the Old Testament cannot be God who is wholly good, perfect, merciful and just. But while the fact of evil’s existence is true, the conclusion of God’s character is false. Our God is and had always been compassionate. Scripture tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore (Heb. 13:8). Let me point out that there is a long list of philosophers, scientists, writers, and lawyers who defends the Old and New Testament God. It is fair to mention a few noteworthy names, as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, C. S. Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, Norman Geisler, Ravi Zacharias, Philip E. Johnson, Anthony Ross, and Lee Strobel. Allow me to add that both Philip E. Johnson and Lee Strobel are lawyers.

Now the idea for this current topic arose from a discussion with a lawyer who, after having read my book, When Conscience Speaks[2], condemned the Old Testament God and continued to say, “my God is compassionate.” He continued to deny the legitimacy and authenticity of the Holy Bible. It, he stated was not inspired by God. Men wrote it he emphasized. Then he verbally re-affirmed his belief in the existence of God while he went on to detail some of the “violence” in the Old Testament for which he holds the Old Testament God accountable. He quoted Old Testament Scriptures where God ordered the erasing of an entire family or nation.

Brief on the Reliability of the Christian Bible

To properly deal with the criticisms of God’s actions in the Old Testament, we need to give a brief overview on the reliability of the Christian Bible. Theologian Robert J. Morgan says that no one doubts the reliability of Thucydides who lived in the era of Malachi and who wrote his history at the end of the Old Testament era. The original and the extant copy span 1,300 years. But the skeptic questions the reliability of the Christian Bible which was written about 25 to 80 years following the actual incidents and claims. Interestingly, Morgan continues to say that most manuscripts of antiquity that are textually supported runs around 7 to 10 copies like Caesars Gallic Wars, Livy’s Roman History, Tacitus’s Annals and so on. For many of these manuscripts, between the originals and copies are 1,000 to 1,200 years. “Yet,” says Morgan, “No one questions [their] accuracy.”[3] On the other hand, he concludes, “We have not ten or eleven manuscripts, but [5000] Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, dating to within [25] years or so of the actual writings.”[4] 

But archaeology is now a science and the Dead Sea Scrolls provides validated, scientific evidence that the texts and books of the Christian Bible is not a fabrication or fiction[5]. Further, Constantine, as commonly thought by those unschooled in the History of Christianity, did not write the Bible as we know it, nor change or had it changed. In 325 Emperor Constantine united the church and solidified his empire. The Church Fathers or Patricists, neither altered the text in any way but laboured and critically and thoroughly examined all historical texts, books that formed the Canon of 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament). I refer my readers to the book The Origin of the Bible, edited by F. F. Bruce, J. I. Packer, Philip Comfort, and Carl F. H. Henry as a comprehensive discussion on the accuracy and origin of the Christian Bible[6].

As regards to its being divinely inspired, we need to begin with (a) the life of Jesus and his actions, claims, miracles, and prophecies; (b) Jesus’ confirmation of Old Testament prophecies and his use of the Old Testament as Holy Scriptures; (c) the non-Christian detailed reports and records of the History of what Jesus did in his life that corroborates the recorded claims and beliefs by the disciples or apostles and Jesus himself; (e) the comparison of the writings of ancient historians with the gospels and Old Testament writers about the history of Israel and other nations mentioned in the Bible.

It is old news that Biblical history is fact. This has been scientifically, archeologically, and literarily proven. This is clarified when we read some Jewish and Roman historians as Philo and Josephus. An excellent presentation, to begin with, that is very readable is Lee Strobel’s The Case For Christ[7]. There are numerous excellent books. In another presentation, I will broaden the discussion on the authority and inerrancy of the Bible.

Clarifying The Atheological Judgement

Now the conclusions of the lawyer, critics, sceptics, agnostics, and atheists, in fact, constitute a judgement. That is, they have obviously read the Christian Bible, analysed it, and formally came to a resolve that God’s actions are what they say it was. It is interesting to note that in the case of the lawyer (to whom this was originally addressed), that he had openly admitted that he is a theist; but his God is compassionate and therefore different to the Christian Old Testament God. I declared emphatically to him and others that my God too is compassionate. After all, since the beginning, my God took human form (Phil. 2:5-8) so that he can give his life for me substitutionally. Therefore, not only I, but all humanity can be saved. Isaiah calls him the Prince of peace (Isa. 9:6). He is called protector (Jos. 24:17) and provider (Job 38:41). 

Now when the sceptics made a judgement of God’s behaviour, they posit a universal moral law. For one cannot determine right or wrong without a moral law. Thus there obviously must be some universal standards against which these skeptics are evaluating God’s actions in the Old Testament. Even the agnostic German philosopher Kant will concur on this. For, he has argued adamantly that there is a moral law that is universal[8].  Further, let me mention that God’s actions in the Old Testament must be His actions in the entire world as He is God, so his behaviour has universal implications and affectations.

At this point we must remember that the idea of God must necessarily posit a being who is immortal, eternal, omnipresent, omniexistent, omniscient, self-sufficient, omnibenevolent, and who is capable of doing anything that is logically possible. This means it is ridiculous to conceive of a God who would endeavour to make a circle square. That indeed would be absurd and contrary to logic. Let me add that the atheist philosopher Mackie recognised that if there is a God, He must be omnipresent and wholly good. Therefore God cannot and would not do anything that is inconsistent to His divine nature or violate the very laws He uttered and made eternal. All God’s acts must necessarily be permanent and final as His nature is eternal[9]. But let us set this aside for a moment, though relevant, and return to our central argument.

It is reasonable to assume that since there are universal moral laws and standards whereby we can determine right and wrong actions such as genocide, infanticide, vengeance, and ethnic cleansing, this moral code necessitates a response of recognising accountability followed by disciplinary action. For there can be no gainful reason in identifying and making determinations of wrongful or evil behaviour for mere recognition’ sake. A behaviour or action is wrong only because it logically runs contrary to the “goodness” or “good” in the world or universe. If the development of the world is built upon mindless accident and natural selection, then “goodness” cannot be assured or maintained or expected. For if goodness is maintained with any consistency then the existence and development in the world cannot be accidental, but intelligently purposed and planned. This posits intelligence as well as a universal moral code. This means it implies disciplinary reaction for wrongful and evil behaviour to ensure the fulfillment of the “goodness” purpose.

            For the lawyer, to whom this chapter was primarily directed, this must be true for he is a theist. But what of the atheist? I believe that the argument is a reasonable and logical possibility. Mindless and accidental progress cannot assure the consistent sustenance of universal goodness. If this goodness is maintained and sustained, then I repeat my contention that there must both be intelligence and design. If we insist that universal “goodness” is a result of accidental, natural selection, then this phenomenon of accidental, natural selection is behaving with intelligence and directed, purposeful action plan.

This is nonsense. It is a violation of the law of non-contradiction. For it is unscientific as it is an accident, for science is based on the law of cause and effect; it is contradictory, for how can a mindless accidental process consistently progress and evolve? Consistency and evolution (not the theory of evolution of species) together suggest order, structure, harmony, and cooperation. These cannot be without mind and intelligence. I reiterate my conclusion, therefore, that the universal moral code whereby evil behaviour is known, must necessarily compliment a disciplinary response to maintain “goodness” in balance.

The Analogy of Jurisprudence

Daphne Dukelow in the Pocket Dictionary of Canadian Law defines jurisprudence as “The philosophy or science of law which ascertains the principles which are the basis of legal rules.”[10] Laws, according to Dukelow, are rules which govern society[11]. The aim of any jurisprudence is to maintain order and social justice. Jurisprudence therefore acts as a deterrent to bad and unfair behaviour and provides means to return balance and justice when there are violations of the societal behaviour code which maintains peaceful coexistence. This balance becomes complete when there is a freedom, following any adjudication, for the judged (or convicted) to appeal a judgement. Initially the accused is allowed to offer a defence.  After judgement, the convicted person (the one now judged) can challenge his or her judgement. 

The law of action and response (cause and effect or causation) is still at work. According to The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, “…causation seems pervasively present in human relationships”[12].  Philosopher David Hume says, “…[it is] the cement of the universe”[13]. That is, it significantly connects objects and events in relationships in our world. For instance, the judgement against anyone results from the fabric or combined evaluation of the witnesses, evidence, relevant code, the legal process, legal argument, and the discretionary action by a judge or jury.

But if one of these factors goes wrong, then the judgement is flawed. In the Judicial Hearing or Case we can affect and challenge evidence. We can examine and cross examine the witnesses. We can argue the relevance of the substantive law; but “the judges are the triers of law,” according to David M. Paciocco and Lee Stuesser in their book, The Law of Evidence[14]. What if the law was misapplied or the wrong law used? Here the right to appeal re-establishes or ratifies the fairness of the system.

While the freedom exists for one to seek leave to appeal or permission to appeal, this right has limitations and does not necessarily purport that an appeal will be granted. There is a test that must first be met.  The merits of the issue for which there was a judgement is not at this point addressed. The leave to appeal must be based on law—wrong procedure or wrong code applied to the issue or situation according to the Rules.

If the code was correct and the procedure was correct, then judgement is presumed correct. This mathematical set is true as all its elements are true. For facts and evidence speaks for themselves always. They cannot change for they are what they are. The legal procedure, when properly applied, would have sifted out inconsistencies, the appropriate law or code, lies, proper evidences, reliable witnesses, and any kind of illogicality or unconscionability. 

The Case Against the Old Testament God

Let us look at the case of The Old Testament God being accused and judged as vengeful, lacking compassion, infanticidal, genocidal, and ethnic cleansing. The biblical records, in the Old Testament, factually speak for themselves. The lawyer has accurately and declaratively delineated the facts and repeated what happened in biblical history. In other words, he was right regarding the facts he has read and observed. After all, the Bible is without a doubt, true. What he said happened and ordered by God was true. For instance, he said that families were erased or nations wiped out, and even the majority of the earth’s population and life forms were wiped out by flood. I cannot and no Christian can deny these factual observations. 

Beginning Defence of the Old Testament God’s Actions

The judgement of God being vengeful and the author of the above so-called evils are based on “de facto objections”—factual statements or reasons—to borrow the language of the noted Christian theologian and philosopher Alvin Plantinga[15]. These objections are not de jure objections—based on law or jurisprudence. Now to make the statement that God of the Old Testament was vengeful or lacked compassion, the speaker and skeptic acknowledges that it is God, who acts and that this supposed God who is also the skeptic’s creator is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omni-existent and is now being judged by his creation (the skeptic).

What baffles me is that the atheist denies God’s existence, but then openly declares war against this non-existent God. How can anyone logically say that God does not exist or there is no God and then stand up and outline a list of arguments and criticisms against the character and actions of the self-same, supposedly non-existent God. Logic demands the end of the contention with the agnostic Kantian view that, once the atheist denies God’s existence she must also deny the character and actions of omnipotent God. In other words, if God is a non-being then the so-called judgements of his atrocities, genocides, homicides, and vengeful actions should become non-issues or void. But these actions did occur and all Christian theists would agree. Therefore, these actions must have been caused by some “overpoweringly lofty and distant … wholly otherto use the language of the theologian Karl Barth[16]. The atheists cannot have it both ways.

When they criticise the actions of a non-existent God, they criticise, by their own admission, a fictitious being. For they claim that this imaginary being Christians created and assigned immortal and eternal characteristics. Christians further claimed that their God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient as well as he is wholly good and compassionate. But how can a fictitious God create real pain, natural disasters, and allow evil? These global realities must be the outcomes of a cause or causes that are real, globally powerful, and supernaturally moral. If you ask me, these qualities are Godlike indeed.

Let us be clear that the creatures with their imperfect minds and intelligences have evolved to a point where they feel that they can critically evaluate and condemn the behaviour of their supposedly perfect Creator.  What presumption. I am bewildered by the view that it is possible and logical for an imperfect and mortal mind to understand so well the so-called deficiencies of a perfect, eternal, and immortal mind. This thinking troubled the French philosopher Renee Descartes. In his “Meditations III” he said, “…I do not comprehend the infinite, or though in God there is an infinitude of things which I cannot comprehend, nor possibly even reach in any way by thought, for it is of the nature of the infinite that my nature, which is finite and limited, should not comprehend it….”[17] The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “…yet we cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:11). Still many presume to able to identify what they call the deficiencies in a perfect mind. They declare that the Christian God is lacking in compassion or in many areas of His functioning or performance.

That an imperfect, limited, and mortal mind can grasp and fathom the entirety of the works of an eternal, unlimited, immortal, omnipotent, omni-existent and omnibevolent mind of his creator confounds me. This runs against the grains of logic and reasonableness. Let me add that rationalism makes the truth of God subject to human reason. Instead “Good reason does not subject God to finite minds but rather subjects our finite minds to His Infinite Mind (2 Cor. 10:5; 1 Cor. 1:21)”[18]. It is too ridiculous to attempt to grasp and understand the fullness of who God is, far more to presume to critique God’s actions. 

As parents, we are intolerant of our children’s disobedience—even when they are grownups. We discipline our children with increasing severity for repetitious violations. Yet we criticise the Creator when he behaves likewise. Further, some courts of law still hang criminals for heinous crimes. Why then do the skeptics condemn God’s actions? I will return to this line of argument later. In the meantime, here is another thought I am asking you to shelve. I have said that

  1. God is perfect and can do no wrong or evil,
  2. Our evolving world necessitates a moral code accompanied by disciplinary actions to sustain the"the goodness purpose," and
  3. Our imperfect, mortal, limited minds and intellect cannot fully embrace or comprehend the perfect, immortal, and unlimited mind and intellect of God.

Further, the actions of the God of the Old Testament were consistently applied according to the records in disciplinary situations. Any violation of God’s laws—conscious or unconscious—is wrong, disobedient, and evil. God never wantonly destroyed or wiped out any family or nation, but did so after repeated warnings. Often he sent prophets after prophets and messages along with written codes of behaviour with which the victims should comply. He gave them many opportunities for redress and reform. He would even warn a nation before arriving at a final position though he knows that no change will occur in the behaviour of the sinners. 

His last resort will be to take the drastic actions he took. These drastic actions, as recorded, constitute what he as Creator is entitled and deems appropriate to be taken against his creatures.  The Bible says, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?  Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter has the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?’ (Rom. 9:20-21).

If we review the procedure in principle that God followed in the Old Testament, we find that it is the same approach that companies and legal, societal systems follow in modern day as well as in the past. Disciplinary action is to effect behaviour change. It progresses from counselling, oral warnings, written warnings, suspension, and finally separation or termination. Now I grant that companies do not kill their employees nor wipe them off the face of the earth. But then again, they do not have that right. The Creator, the Divine Potter, does. Let us understand that the order of this contractual relationship is between humanity and God and not humans and humans.

Similarly as above, one writer explained, that it is all well and good when we judge that the acts of a serial killer is heinous and demand his hanging. We are happy that the Hitlers and Sadam Hoseins, the nations and leaders who slaughter humans and commit great atrocities against humanity are caught and killed. What of the terrorists of 9/11? We should find out how many families wished them caught and tried and jailed in the nice Western prisons supported by our tax dollars as they serve life sentences? Let us be honest here, says the writer, it is acceptable, reasonable, and good for humans to determine death sentences for murderers of children and leaders who mutilate human beings or a race or religious group of people; but God, the creator is a vengeful God when he decides to take the life of those (his creatures) whom he judged as criminals. I find this judgement of God hypocritical.

Defence in Appeal

In defence of the position that the God of the Old Testament took, as Christians, we must dutifully strive, as the Bible instructs us to in 1 Peter 3:15, to provide a defence and give reasons with humility for what we believe and know is true. Now the sceptics have judged God, so I appealed the judgement not on the de facto objections for I will not by any law be granted leave to appeal. I appealed on the grounds of de jure objections—one of the primary bases upon which leave to appeal is granted.

I contend that the basis of God’s action was disciplinary and founded upon the warrant of a universal moral code which he, the same God had established. I contend and so challenge the skeptics that if we would examine every case where he has been criticised, we will find he made known the laws that should be complied with. God gave repeated warnings directly or implied. He warned of the consequences of disobedience, and only as a last resort he implemented his final sweeping and harsh actions.

We should note that these actions are harsh from a human and mortal standpoint when assessing the values of a perfect, immortal God. I remind my readers that this so-called harsh procedure constitutes the actions of a compassionate God. He never wantonly wiped out any nation, people, family, animal, or land.  He never arbitrarily killed anyone or anything or ordered such to take place. As the apostle Paul says, how is the pot to tell the potter how it is to be made and treated? 

These self same principles are now applied in the Courts of Justice, in company employment law, the military, and in all sorts of human organizations. As a former Human Resources professional, I can say that it is the leaders and management who write the rules and regulations of organisations. They hire their subordinates based on management’s defined criteria. They control and maintain good work ethic and interrelationship with disciplinary procedures which may at times end in termination or separation as a last resort.

Many years ago beheading and hanging were not seen as barbaric after a trial and in some modern societies there are still hangings. Beheading is done illegally by religious fanatics or extremists. In fact, we see through civilization’s history, hangings and beheadings were publicly done. Humanity’s social conscience[19] was clear following public hangings and beheadings. Human rights and being humane had different meanings then. In the US, some states still have the execution decree. Human beings were barbaric throughout humanity’s history. 

Crime, in biblical, human history began with Adam and Eve’s violations through Cain murdering of Abel and so on. In traditional history we observed from Stone Age man’s living through survival of the fittest principle, wars, territorial disputes, and colonization.  God did not begin any killings or even caused it.  He gave free will which is good, but had been and still is abused and misused today. The level of humanity’s moral code was life for life—both in biblical and traditional history. Thus an eye for an eye was the law and that was just when put into the hands of the then jurisprudence: the social and justice systems of the past. The God-haters and atheists strongly argue the reality of “the survival of the fittest” in the development of society.

This same God stopped certain types of actions as civilization developed and began to increasingly comprehend the value of cooperation, not only between humans, but among nations and peoples. We observe how the economy of living has spawned social and moral systems which we now say are modern and humane. So civilization learned to be less barbaric in time and experience.

The stories (true or false) of the lost continents of Lumeria and Atlantis speak of societies that were far advanced of their times. The inhabitants would not dare to violate the principle of cultural arrogance. This thinking has been for years portrayed in the ever popular Star Trek with its derivative TV Series. The idea is not new for non-interference by an advanced society in the life and culture of one that is not yet ready for technology and scientific development too far ahead of itself.

We practice this non-interference of a sort even in today’s world. For instance in our education system, we are careful of the quantity and degree of difficulty of the work we give to each level, grade, or degree. We do not ever assign work over the level of individuals, because learning will be difficult and in some cases may not properly occur. We prefer to design education programs that are graduated. So too some societies do not understand social systems that have advanced ahead of theirs in values, art, music, and even morals.  Not being facetious but this last is questionable. The form of disciplinary actions or punishments over the history of humankind changed with time and social progress.

We cannot and should not be given values we are not ready for psychologically, culturally, and spiritually.  It would be useless. Social systems today have outgrown “an eye for an eye” fiat. God knew when we were ready to move to the next level, “turn the left cheek” and apply the complete law of love. So Jesus Christ showed up. This was according to plan—divine plan.

Conclusion

Regarding compassion and the Old Testament God, we study the past with our modern eyes, knowledge, and experience and we often judge the past with our modern standards.  Professional historians and archaeologists will find this approach laughable.  Biblical scholars would shout, “This is poor exegesis of the Bible.”  In fact, they call it eisigesis.  Today we sit in our comfort chairs in the West and presume as we had travelled to foreign lands in Asia, the Orient and in Africa that we ought to tell them how to live by our standards which we assume to be higher than theirs. 

We forget that basic writing tablets were not developed in the West.  We did not grow the papyrus plants to write on.  Some years ago we discovered, to our amazement, the impressive advancement made by the Egyptian and Mexican Aztecs civilizations in mathematics, astronomy, and social structure.  We in the West were late in our development as a people and region.  With the economic and military shift we boast our development in science, philosophy, technology, and more.

But many may argue that we need missionaries today from the East.  For the Western world has now devolved into the sea of atheology.  We call it pluralism and tolerance of cultural diversity; but it is in fact an abdication of our Christian responsibility and integrity.  We have caved in and allowed our standards to drop, our truths to be modified for acceptance, rather than make our examples relevant so that we can illustrate a universal truth.  We have become as lost as were Pauline’s Athenians in Acts 17. 

We are annoyed and aggravated when our neighbour wonders into our yard to tell us how often we must cut the grass or keep our noise down or the banker telling us how to spend our hard earned cash.  Nations do not like other nations poking their noses into their national affairs.  We are all territorial—individuals and countries—alike.  What is ours is ours for we worked for it.  We don’t like people telling us how to grow our kids and discipline them.  We love our kids.  They are ours—flesh and blood.  Yet we dare to tell the God who created us how he must discipline His creations.  But He is territorial too.  He says, “…My glory I will not give to another” (Isa 42:8).  Are we not created in His image?  An ancient book says, “Presumption is the bane of reason.” 

I don’t suppose my skeptic reader will find comfort in my presuming to disagree with him in the way I have above.  Be that as it may, the objections to God’s behaviour are de facto, but the warrants for his behaviour are de jure—existing by right according to law[20].  This latter de jure classification not only justifies God’s character, behaviour, and actions, but it should be the basis upon which any judgement is made of his actions in the Old Testament and elsewhere.  And with this view, we are enabled to see and understand that God has and will always be compassionate.  Any other allegation or judgement against His compassionate nature and actions must necessarily be false.

[1] Lindsley, Art, Love The Ultimate Apologetic, InterVarsity Press Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers, Grove, Illinois 60515-1426, pg. 52.

[2] Riley, Christopher, When Conscience Speaks, PublishAmerica. Baltimore, USA.

[3] Morgan, Robert J.  Evidence and Truth, Foundations for Christian Truth, Crossway Books, A Division of Good News Publishers, 1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, Illinois, 60187, 2003, pg 85-86.

[4] Morgan, pg. 86.

[5] Shanks, Hershel, Ed.  Understanding The Dead Sea Scrolls, “A Reader From The Biblical Archaeology Review,” Random House, Inc., New York, 1992, pg. 161-162.

[6] Comfort, Philip Wesley. Ed. The Origin of the Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 2003.

[7] Strobel, Lee.  The Case For Christ, “A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus,” Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, 49530, 1998.

[8] Wood, Allen W.  Ed. Basic Writings of Kant, “Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals,” The Modern Library, New York, an imprint of the Random House Publishing, Toronto, Canada, 2001,

[9] Geisler, Norman and Brooks, Ron. Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction To Logical Thinking, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516, 1990.

[10] Dukelow, Daphne.  Pocket Dictionary of Canadian Law, Thomson Carswell, One Corporate Plaza, 2075 Kennedy Road, Toronto, Ontario. M1T 3V4, 2006, pg. 263.

[11] Ibid., pg. 273.

[12] Robert Audi, Gen. Ed., The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge, 40 West 20th Street, New York, N.Y., 10011-4211, USA, 2001, pg. 273.

[13] Ibid., pg. 125.

[14] David M. Paciocco and Lee Stuesser.  The Law of Evidence, Irwin Law Inc., Suite 501, 347 Bay Street., Toronto, ON M5H 2R7., 2005, pg. 1.

[15] Plantinga, Alvin.  Warranted Christian Belief, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, pg. vii-ix.

[16] Karl Barth.  The Humanity of God, Westminister John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1960, pg. 37.

[17] __. Editor in Chief Robert Maynard Hutchins, Great Books of the Western World--Descartes’ “Meditations III—Of God: that He Exists,” William Benton, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., Toronto, 1988, pg. 86.

[18] Geisler, Norman L.  Systematic Theology vol. 1, Bethany House, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2002, pg. 91.

[19] Social or collective conscience refers to the process of evaluating and signaling the outcomes of group behaviour and values.  The actions by a society of community is assessed as a unit or collective and determined harmonious or not with the standards set and accepted by the collective. See my book, When Conscience Speaks, by Christopher Riley, page 101-108, 2007)

[20] Bryan A. Garner ed.  Black Law Dictionary, ed, 2004

Copyright 2011