Index to this Study


A History of the Bible

Dr. William S. Sadler

1. Introduction—The Bible: Authority and Significance


  • 1. THE BIBLE AS ESSENTIAL TO CHRISTIANITY
    • 1. From the beginning of Christianity, the Old Testament was accepted as Scripture--the word of God.
    • 2. To understand the relation of the Bible to Christianity means that we must define Christianity, and such a study involves the theologian, historian, archaeologist, and anthropologist.
    • 3. According to the Urantia Book, Christianity is the religion about Jesus as differentiated from the religion of Jesus.
    • 4. The Bible never claims to be an infallible authority. Says Paul in II Timothy 3:16.- "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."
    • 5. Whatever inspiration is, there must be degrees of it. Second Isaiah was more inspired than the First Isaiah.
    • 6. In another place (Rom. 6:19) Paul reminds his readers that: "I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations."
    • 7. Textual contradictions and other differences make it impossible for us to believe in verbal inspiration.
    • 8. Jesus frequently quoted Scripture, but never alluded to it as being inspired. He never called Scripture the word of God.
    • 9. Jesus' view of the Scriptures is expressed in his memorable talk with Nathaniel. See The Urantia Book, pages 1767-9.
    • 10. The interpretation of Scripture:
      • a. Catholic View: The church, and only the church, can truly interpret the Bible. And when the church does thus function, the interpretation is infallible.
      • b. Protestant View: Protestants claim that any individual, by aid of the Holy Spirit, can interpret the Bible.
      • c. The word "Bible" means "little book," but the word itself is not found in the Bible.
  • 2. HARMONY OF FAITH AND SCRIPTURE
    • 1. Incarnation is the theologic heart of Christianity -- and the Bible sustains this doctrine.
    • 2. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." John 1-.14. This is the theme song of all New Testament teaching.
    • 3. Naturally, the next step is the proclamation--"There is no other name under heaven given among men, by which-we must be saved." Acts 4:12.
    • 4. While the Urantia Book validates the incarnation, it declares the gospel of the kingdom to be "the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man."
    • 5. At Antioch they stressed the humanity of Jesus; at Alexandria, the divinity of the Master.
    • 6. Docetism taught that Jesus' humanity was but "seeming"--a sort of phantasm.
    • 7. The Bible could be regarded as an incarnation--a union of the human and the divine.
    • 8. The divine represents the so-called inspiration; the human accounts for the remarkable diversification--the errors, the contradictions, inconsistencies, etc.
    • 9. To take away the human element in Scripture would be the equivalent of depriving Jesus of his human nature.
    • 10. Christ's ministry to man did not come to an end at his death on the cross and God's revelation of truth to mankind did not end with the Old and New Testaments.
  • 3. THE BIBLE AND THE CHURCH
    • 1. Neither the Old Testament nor Jesus was given just to and for the Jews. Both were a universal bestowal.
    • 2. The ministry of Christ and the function of revelation are continuous. They are both a part of the eternal purpose.
    • 3. Christ's incarnation was, in a way, "enhumanization."
    • 4. The incarnation of the "Word" in the Bible was also a sort of "enhumanization" of truth.
    • 5. The gift of the Spirit was to lead believers "into all truth.11 Such an experience would go over long periods of time--entail much growth.
    • 6. Since the Bible records were ended almost two thousand years ago--what takes its place in the continued evolution of the church?
  • 4. AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE
    • 1. In the Reformation, the Protestants, in rejecting an infallible Pope, put in his place an infallible book--the Bible.
    • 2. Christ is the only final and absolute authority for the New Testament
    • 3. Christ's brotherhood is not authoritarian--the Roman Catholic Church is.
    • 4. To prevent just such a mistake as the Protestants made, Christ left no written records. Only the "word" as it is in Christ is infallible.
    • 5. The Catholic Church does not regard the Scriptures as being infallible-only their interpretation.
    • 6. The Catholics regard "tradition" as being equal to the Bible as authority for doctrine and dogmas.
    • 7. On the whole, the Roman Church has discouraged its lay members from acquiring a knowledge of the Bible.
    • 8. Luther said: "The Bible is the manger in which Christ is laid."
    • 9. The human side of the Scriptures is shown in the inconsistencies and inaccuracies; the divine hand in the revelation of eternal truth.
    • 10. The Bible is inseparably bound up with the whole organism of the Christian faith and experience.
    • 11. The Bible is a "man-selected" group of writing. The Maccabees of the Apocrypha are more scriptural than the Song of Solomon or the book of Esther.
    • 12. In creating the canon of the New Testament it was the intention to include only those writings of apostolic origin.
    • 13. The books of the New Testament were not written as history or biography -- they were written solely to propagate the faith.
    • 14. Even Jesus never set himself up as an absolute authority.
    • 15. Paul never claimed inspiration or infallibility. He said: "Judge for yourselves what I say." I Cor. 10:15.
    • 16. The belief of Protestants in the literal inerrancy of the Bible, its absolute authority, led to their breaking up into a multitude of sects.
    • 17. The recognition of the fallibility of Scripture in the twentieth century is bringing them together.
    • 18. But this does not mean that every individual should set himself up as the one and only interpreter of the Scriptures.
    • 19. We should look critically upon the Bible when it contradicts the facts of nature--such as the teaching that the earth is flat. (This has nothing to do with genuine miracles.)
    • 20. Symbolism should also be questioned--like the story of Jonah and the whale.
    • 21. Never forget the fact of the "evolution of revelation." Remember also that there have been retrogressions.
    • 22. Do not be misled by the ambiguities of the Bible or by its allegories--such as interpreting the voluptuous Song of Solomon as representing the love of Christ for his church.
    • 23. And do not accept all of the apostolic teachings as the teaching of Christ.
    • 24. The mistaken reporting of Jesus' teaching is shown by the record found in Matt. 24. See The Urantia Book, p. 1912.
    • 25. Certain portions of the Bible have had a non-Jewish origin. Note the following:
      • Isa. 16, 17; From a Moabite elegy.
      • Ps. 104; Sun hymn of Ikhnaton.
      • Prov. 22:17-23:14; Maxims of Amenomope.
      • Ex. 20-23; The Code of Hammurabi.
  • 5. THE BIBLE AS THE WORD OF GOD
    • 1. Is it proper to speak of the Bible as the word of God? The gospel message was called the word of God. See Rev. 1:2. "Who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ."
    • 2. Sometimes referred to as "the word of the cross." See I Cor. 1:18.
    • 3. In Phil. 2:16, called "the word of life." In Col. 1:5, called "the word of the truth."
    • 4. The gospel of John refers to Christ as "the word.$' See John 1:1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
    • 5. And in speaking of the incarnation, John says: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." John 1:14.
    • 6. The Urantia Book speaks of the Eternal Son as "the living and divine Word." (p. 73)
    • 7. Strictly speaking, the Bible should not be called the word of God. Inasmuch as God may be speaking in and through the Bible, it would be qualifiedly the divine word.
    • 8. It was in this sense that the Urantia revelation was spoken of as the "Word made Book."