|The Bible and Authority||WhyProphets.com|
|Very simple||Why Mormonism||Why the Bible?||What is authority|
|Who has authority||ONLY the Bible?||The Word of God||Which Bible?|
|Why should an educated person like you trust the Bible?|
A common language
The Bible is the best selling book of all time. God has seen to it that nearly everyone has access to it. It serves as an excellent first step in learning about God. It gives all Christians common ground on which to build.
While it is possible to interpret the Bible in many ways, the Bible does make some understandings easier than others. It is thus a powerful teacher. The first step in any theology has to be to accept the Bible and to declare our relationship with it. That way, we all know where we are coming from.
As a Mormon, I see the Bible as a record of ancient prophets. As such, it makes me look for modern, living prophets. Others see it as something else (as the foundation for faith, or as an allegory, for example). But as far as I can see, these other approaches contradict the Bible itself. The Bible is thus a great tester of religions.
It all comes down to personal experience.
I have found that the Bible makes sense (although most Christian churchs do not make sense, but that is a different matter):
The Bible works. It is a great collection of books!
The LDS advantage
Many people believe in the Bible, but when you press them for a reason, it often comes down to tradition - "the Bible is true because it is the Bible". One of the great things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that you have added reasons for trusting the Bible. Since the Book of Mormon is a witness to the truth of the Bible, every evidence for the Book of Mormon is also evidence for the truth of the Bible. And there is plenty of evidence!
It is also wonderful to see the church being run now in the same way that it was in Bible times, with Jesus at its head, directing by revelation. But the most important reason for trusting the Bible has to be personal experience - that is something that no clever argument can destroy.
Interpretations have to be simple
I take the Bible on face value. I trust God - he knows what he is doing when he gives us the Bible. If someone tells me that you need to know some obscure piece of history to understand part of the Bible, I know that they are wrong. God did not design the Bible for intellectuals alone, but for everyone. The simple gospel is best!
This has been my driving force behind looking at Daniel and Revelation. If Daniel says he saw a goat, then he saw a goat. If God showed him a goat and said that it represented Greece, then it represented Greece. If God uses symbols, it is because they make things easier to understand. It is easier to remember a picture (such as an animal) than it is to remember names, dates, and descriptions. God gave us the Bible to help us, not to confuse us. If an interpretation seems complicated, then it is probably wrong.
I like "Occam's razor". Occam was a theologian who decided that if there are two equally possible explanations for something, then we should take the simpler option. That is why I reject the idea (for example) that Daniel 11 is all about Antiochus IV - why delve into obscure corners of history, when the scriptures are fulfilled by well-known events? I also reject the idea that "abomination of desolation" is a phrase that can only be used one or two times. Why start arguing about ancient history when the phrase plainly applies to all kinds of things? The Bible is simple. Let's keep it that way.
From a Biblical viewpoint, the simplest and most important way to interpret the Bible was by revelation through a prophet. In fact it's the only way! Everything else is (including this) is speculation and should be clearly labeled as such.
"No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation". This is why Revelation 22:18 says that no man can add anything. Clearly revelation needs some explaining, but God has reserved that power for himself. Bible commentaries take note! You either find new revelation, or you announce your uncertainty loud and often. So Revelation 22:18 alone is enough to show the need for revelation beyond the Bible - which is yet another reason I belong to the LDS church. But I digress.
If at some future time God sees fit to comment on a verse of the Bible, then that revelation is the only one that counts. If my opinion differs from one revealed by God, then my opinion should be quickly forgotten. Needless to say, I have tried to keep this web site in harmony with those interpretations that have been offered already by prophets, in the Bible and elsewhere.
Different approaches to interpretation
There are only a few basic ways to interpret scripture. It basically depends on who you take as your final authority. If you take the Biblical text as we have it, then you tend to follow an "evangelical" line. If you tend to follow the best scholarship we have, then you tend to follow a "liberal" line. If you want to follow God, then you look for a prophet to guide you. This present website has chosen to take a literal view, assuming that the Bible is correct and taking it from there.
Don't all Bible interpreters disagree?
When it comes to interpreting Bible prophecies, you would be forgiven for thinking that everyone goes in a different direction. One list for example, gave details of 38 people throughout history who predicted the end of the world, and all kinds of different dates came out. It is a standing joke: the man with a sign saying "the end of the world is nigh", and getting it wrong. But let us look a little closer at those 38 doom-merchants. If we ignore those who also use tradition, pyramids, or other sources, only about 4 or 5 dates are obtained from the Bible alone. And only one of those had any real following - millions concluded that the Bible pointed to the year 1844. So there is a lot more agreement than we might think.
In my opinion, any disagreements or apparent failures in prophecy all hinge on an unwillingness among traditional Christians to admit the obvious: that the Bible predicted, and history recorded, a complete falling away from original Christianity, some time after the deaths of the apostles.
Chaos without a prophet
Without a prophet, Bible interpretation ends up in chaos. A joke might illustrate this...
|I was walking
across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the
edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, 'Stop!
Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said.
I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!' He said,
"Like what?" I said, "Well, are you
religious or atheist?" He said, 'Religious." I
said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
He said, "Christian.' I said, "Me too! Are you
Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
He said, 'Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are
you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?'
He said, "Baptist Church of God!" I said,
"Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God or
are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, 'Reformed
Baptist Church of God!" I said, 'Me too! Are you
Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or
Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"
He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God,
Reformation of 1915!' 1 said, "Die, heretic scum!"
and pushed him off.
(N.B. Another version of the joke is much longer - and funnier - distinguishing between Southern and American Baptists, between pre-trib and post-trib, pro and anti Disney boycott, and so on. But let's not pick on the Baptists - a similar joke could be made about any church that does not have a living prophet. I know. I live in Presbyterian Scotland.)
For a serious (but not too heavy) look at how different churches interpret te Bible, see www.religioustolerance.org
If you are skeptical about the Bible, you are probably thinking of a dozen reasons why you believe the Bible is not always right. Hold on there! I don't intend to cover every argument here. There are plenty of Christian apologetic web sites that discuss the issues from different angles. All I cover on this web site are Genesis 1, the dated prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, and a few of the standard atheist objections. One question at a time, please!
The bottom line:
You can trust the Bible - it's always been right so far, even if it takes a while for us to see it.
For a good overview of end-of-the-world predictions, see Wallechinsky , David, et al. "The Book of Predictions", London: Corgi, 1982.