Saturday, June 28, 2014

Session 3: Transmission of Scripture Part 2

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30
Writing about Session 3 Transmission of Scripture, Grant Etherington shares his thoughts on having confidence in the Bible.

Here is a question to ponder: How do we know that the Bible is the same today as it was when it was written? Let’s start with the Old Testament, it was written in two languages Hebrew and Aramaic, and was written over a period of time from 1500 to 400BC. Now the New Testament was written in Koine Greek(basically how they talked on the streets) and was written from 40 to 90BC.

We learned that we do not have any original writings, and all scripture that was passed on was handwritten until the printing press came about in the 1450s. When I hear that, my mind says there is no way the Bible I’m holding in my hand can hold anything to the original.

Then we learn that there are over 300,000 errors (also called variants) in the New Testament alone. Wow! Now that really makes you think about the Bible that you are holding in your hand. Upon further discussion we learned that 99% of those errors, actually make no theological difference what so ever. A lot the variants were unintentional, like a mistaken letter, or similar sounding words, or the reversal of order with words, example of that would be Christ Jesus, Jesus Christ.

As I saw these variants it made me wonder how I would have performed! I know for certain I would have messed up! It was very interesting to know that there were some intentional errors as well. Some examples of that would be updating to the language (names of towns).

Another one they would do would be Liturgical Additions, which means that something that always might be used and said within a church service might be added, the example they used was Matthew 6:13”And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil…For yours is the kingdom and the power and glory forever, Amen. After the word evil the rest was added, because that’s what they would have said in their service.

Now of the one percent that does affect theology, none of those affect any major doctrine!

A very cool thing we learned was when they found the Dead Sea scrolls in 1948, they compared them to the manuscripts they had and the scrolls were dead on word for word. That blows my mind. For me it was very comforting to learn all this and it just affirms that what we are holding in our hands is the real deal. I think if your walk with Christ wobbles over these variants then you’re looking for a way out. But for me it just puts my mind at rest.

So at the end of the night it was quite amazing to learn how sound the Scriptures are that we are holding in our hands. It’s the real McCoy. I know for me, growing up, it was very easy to think that the Bible was just bunch of stuff men threw together and that it can’t be the same as it was back in the day. BUT IT IS!!! So not only am I able to trust in God, but I can read this Bible with total confidence!

Grant Etherington

Session 3: Transmission of Scripture Part 1

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30
Writing about Session 3 Transmission of Scripture, Anna Lee shares her thoughts on having confidence in the Bible.

As Christians, it is imperative that we are confident in the Word of God we have in our hands. But few of us understand how the Bible has been transmitted from when it was originally written to the copy that exists in 2014. Transmission is defined as "to send something, pass something on, or cause something to spread, from one person thing or place to another."

When referring to Scripture specifically, it is the process of the original author writing it down, copies made over time, and leaving us with the Bible we have today. This begs the question: How do we know if we have the right words?

The Bible was inspired by God over a 1,500 year period. He used at least 40 men to put it in writing; ranging from priests and prophets to shepherds and tax collectors. To me, the transmission of Scripture seems like the perfect point of attack for an unbeliever. It stands to reason that considering the time span during which it was written and the number of authors from vastly different professions, that it would deem Scripture to be an unreliable source.

However, leave it to our great God to take something that would seem to shake the very foundation of our faith and instead use it to prove its authenticity. Not even the most hard-core atheists or liberals will touch this one because the evidence is overwhelming.

While we do not have any of the original manuscripts of the Old or New Testament, it is acknowledged that the closer a copy is made to the date of the original document, the more it is reliable. That being said, in the Theology Course curriculum (Session 3, page 74), a table compares the Bible with other reliable ancient manuscripts.

The New Testament was written between 50-90 A.D. with the earliest known copy made only 25 years later, and the number of copies made exceeding 25,000. The next closest is Homer's Iliad which was written in 900 B.C. with the earliest copy made 1,500 years later, and the number of copies made totaling 643. When you put it side-by-side, 25 years versus 1,500 years from first writing, and 25,000 copies versus 643, the evidence speaks for itself. God likes to go big!

How did we come to have Scripture in front of us today? God inspired the Word, men wrote it down, and copies were made. But as we all know, human error is inevitable. How then can we know that the copies of Scripture we have are not rampant with errors? While scribes were meticulously copying the Old and New Testament, many mistakes were made. In fact, in the New Testament alone there are more than 300,000 copyist errors.

When I learned about the large number of variants in the manuscripts it made me uneasy. But upon further discussion, it turns out that 99% of these make no theological difference at all. Some are merely grammatical or differ only in order of wording (an example being "Jesus Christ" versus "Christ Jesus"). But what about the other 1%?

An example is the classic Sunday School story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. In many Bible translations, this story in John 7:53-8:11 is in brackets because some of the early manuscripts do not include it. Should it be included? In these instances, whether you leave it in or take it out, it does not affect any major doctrine. The inclusion or absence of it does not alter the character of God or change how we come to salvation.

Before studying transmission, I assumed that the Bible was completely perfect in every way. After studying this, I am confident that it is perfectly the way God intended it to be. He was the One who created us. He knew that we are imperfect and would make mistakes. But He is also in complete control. Now, more than ever before, I trust the divine Author of the Word I hold in my hands.

Anna Lee

Friday, June 13, 2014

Session 2: Sola Scriptura

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30
Writing about Session 2 Sola Scriptura, Brady Warrick shares his thoughts on tradition.

The focus of Session 2 of our study was on Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is the belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. Not included in the definition is the word ONLY. It does NOT say scripture is the ONLY source of truth.

Solo Scriptura (not Sola) is the belief that Scripture is the sole (only) basis and authority in the life of the Christian. Solo Scriptura views tradition as useless and misleading, and creeds and confessions are the result of man-made traditions. This, of course, is the other end of the spectrum from the Sola Scriptura view of tradition and is flat wrong.

Sola Scriptura (not Solo) defines tradition as a “summary” of Christian beliefs that accurately represents the Scriptures. If it does NOT accurately represent the Scriptures, it is not true tradition.

Growing up, I typically thought of tradition as a bad thing. My biggest memory of tradition as a child was Christmas. At Christmas, we were a small group; a couple of aunts, an uncle, mom and dad, brother, grandpa and grandma – no cousins. We would eat a big meal, all help with the dishes, and then pass out presents so we could start “tearing” into them. Except, we didn’t get to “tear” open the gifts because it was a tradition for EACH of us to go around in a circle and open one gift at a time. That meant it took three plus hours for eight or so people to open Christmas presents. As a teenager, that is what I thought tradition meant; do things in a boring, meaningless, repetitious manner.

That negative view of tradition stuck with me throughout high school and college, especially with religion. When it came to church it seemed boring and repetitious. Then, I began to search for truth on my own outside of what I thought was the boring repetition of tradition.

As my slow walk with the Lord started to grow, I began to dig into the word more and more. In doing so, I determined Scripture was the only source of truth. Why go to church? Why go to Bible studies? God gave us His word that is complete so why do we need anything else? Without knowing it I had adopted the Solo Scriptura’s wrong view of tradition.

During the past few years of my life, spiritual tradition has become much more important to me. Tradition is an important part of my spiritual growth. I have listened to two or more sermons per week via podcast for over the past year and this has helped me grow tremendously. These sermons are summaries that accurately represent the Scriptures (right view of tradition). In addition, I have read Christian books, including topics of serving the less fortunate and parenting that accurately summarize Scripture (tradition). Both of these sources have helped my walk with the Lord. This is not to say these are the only aids to my spiritual growth as there is still no substitute for reading the Scriptures.

What really spoke to me during Session 2 of our study is to strike a balance of growth from the Scriptures and from tradition as defined above. The Scriptures are clearly in front of tradition; however, tradition still plays a significant role in my spiritual growth.

Brady Warrick

Loving God with Our Minds

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30
Our church is going to publish a series of blog posts from written by the first class of students in our theology program. They are now in the second 10 week course of the program entitled Bibliology & Hermeneutics. Each student has been tasked with writing a blog post about their impression and thoughts of one session from the course.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength ~Mark 12:30

Christians are called to love God with all their minds so Lakeside is offering a program of Christian theology (study of God) and apologetics (defending the faith) created with all believers in mind. The Theology Program (TTP) seeks to give people who may never have the time, ability, or circumstances that allow them to attend full-time seminary the same opportunity to study the great and rich Christian heritage of truth. This program is designed to engage Christians in a deep level of theological training that has traditionally only been offered at seminaries.

TTP equips the student to answer questions like these:
  • How do we know what books belong in the Bible?
  • Do all religions lead to God?
  • So many churches—what is the big difference?
  • Why does everyone seem to interpret the Bible differently?
  • The doctrine of the Trinity—can someone explain this?
  • Why should I study theology?
  • So many versions of the Bible... Which one do I use?
  • What about those who have never heard about Christ?
  • Why does God allow bad things to happen?
  • What is the difference between Protestants and Catholics?
There are six courses in the program of 10 weeks each:
  1. Introduction to Theology
  2. Bibliology & Hermeneutics
  3. Trinitarianism
  4. Humanity & Sin
  5. Soteriology
  6. Ecclesiology & Eschatology
If you have any questions or are interested in participating in the program contact me via email or call:

David Kyle 515-480-6822