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
- 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. While the Urantia Book validates the incarnation, it declares the
gospel of the kingdom to be "the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood
- 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
- 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,
- 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"
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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."