• Apologetics,  Scripture

    Should Christians Quote the Bible to Unbelievers?

    Is there any benefit in quoting the Bible to someone who doesn’t believe the Bible? On the surface, it seems counter-intuitive. Why would we appeal to the Bible as authority if someone does not recognize that authority? For many Christians, if someone does not recognize the Bible as being from God they will try to argue for God in other ways. But I would propose that Christians not only can quote the Bible to unbelievers, but they should quote the Bible to unbelievers. An example of a hesitancy to quote the Bible comes form Matt Walsh, conservative blogger and devout Catholic, entitled, “When Christians Shouldn’t Quote the Bible.” In his article, he made a fairly bold statement: I contend that Christians should not appeal to the Bible when arguing with unbelievers about political and cultural topics. There is no need to quote Scripture when trying to explain, for example, why…

  • Apologetics,  Scripture

    Using the Bible to Prove the Bible

    Christians are often accused of circular reasoning when they attempt to prove the Bible by citing the Bible. Those who level these accusations say that it is improper to attempt to prove that the Bible is God’s Word by using the Bible as evidence for that. This argument may appear strong at a surface level, but it neglects the real issues involved in epistemology (the study of how we know things). How do we know anything? Most people will acknowledge we can prove truth claims by three means: Which of the three options is most reliable in attempts to prove something? Either someone has the authority to tell us what is true (God), or we logically figure it out (reason with logic), or else we are able to observe or experience it (i.e., observe it through a scientific process). What most people fail to realize is that in questions of ultimate…

  • Hermeneutics,  Scripture

    Reading Bible Stories the Wrong Way

    Everyone loves stories. And we all enjoy stories in a variety of ways. We watch movies, read books, or simply tell stories to each other about our daily lives. Although some stories are more epic than others, stories are an essential part of us. We cannot escape them. The majority of the Bible is written in story form. This means that when you read the Bible, you have the highest probability that you will be reading a narrative of some kind. Because we are surrounded by stories all the time, one would think we would understand the Bible better—if for no other reason than our familiarity with stories. However, we often struggle in the Bible’s narrative texts because we are not sure what the application is for our own life. This often leads to reading Bible stories in the wrong way. Reading Yourself into the Bible Story The most common…

  • Hermeneutics,  Scripture

    The Cross Reference Curse: A Warning on How We Wrongly Use the Cross Reference

    We cross reference all the time when we study the Bible. A cross reference is simply using one text of Scripture to help understand another text. But is it always good to cross reference? While it can be very helpful, the idea of cross referencing also can also lead us to mistakes in our biblical interpretation. Consider the following situation. Let’s say a friend or neighbor comes up to you and says, “The Bible is clear that baptism is necessary for salvation.” Now, you may be immediately put off by such a suggestion, but what if he goes on to quote Acts 2:38? Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” How would you respond to such a statement? Perhaps you would respond by saying,…

  • Biblical Languages,  Scripture

    Why the Idea of Literal or Dynamic Bible Translations Isn’t Quite Right

    I am often asked what makes for a good Bible translation. To many people, the answer is simple—you just need a literal Bible translation (i.e., one that translates word-for-word from Greek or Hebrew into English). However, there is a little more complexity to the issue that needs to be considered. Literal and Dynamic Bible Translations Bible translations have traditionally been classified as literal-formal or dynamic equivalence. Dynamic equivalence is normally used to refer to translations which attempt to emphasize the meaning of phrases rather than each individual word (NIV is often used as an example). In these kinds of translations, there is a little more flexibility in how a word or phrase might be translated given the given context. Alternatively, a literal translation (or formal equivalence) is often touted as the best due to its word-for-word approach and its attempt to be more objective or consistent in its translation (KJV…

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament,  Scripture

    Are the Red Letters Special in the Bible?

    When it comes to the red letters of the Bible, as Christians we often revere and cherish those portions of the text more highly than others. After all, the red letters are the words of Jesus! Why shouldn’t we value what Jesus says higher than other parts of the Bible? It is certainly popular to value what Jesus says over and above other parts of Scripture. In fact, there is a whole group called, Red Letter Christians, who exist “to take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount” (quote from their stated purpose). Perhaps you are not a card-carrying member of the Red Letter Christians. But, I imagine you gravitate to the person of Jesus. I bet that you value him above anyone else who is mentioned in the…

  • Misc,  Scripture

    What is the Longest Book of the Bible?

    There are 1,189 chapters in the English bible, and 31,103 verses. But which book of the Bible is the longest? The answer surprises most people! Hint: It is not Psalms! At least depending on how you are counting. I am at least partially motivated to write this blog post on the issue of the longest book of the Bible because it makes such a great youth group trivia question! But, it also helps puts things in perspective for what you can expect when reading through the Bible. There are a variety of ways to calculate the longest book of the Bible. You can count chapters, verses, or words. You could also technically make a differentiation between Greek or Hebrew, and the common English translations that we use. Of course, it should be noted that we are not combining any books of the Bible. So, although 1 & 2 Samuel, 1…

  • Old Testament,  Scripture

    Did Old Testament Saints Know Scripture was Authoritative?

    From our perspective we sometimes take for granted that we have an authoritative canon—a collection of inspired Scripture from God. But it is worth thinking through how the Old Testament saints viewed the collection of authoritative writings. Did Old Testament believers recognize a specialized, authoritative collection of writings? Looking at the Old Testament evidence, it seems that the Jewish people recognized certain writings as authoritative from God, while at the same time acknowledging a different quality of other writings. We see early evidence of Scripture being regarded as authoritative in the book of Deuteronomy. For example, Moses instructed all the people to gather every seven years to hear “this law” (Deut 31:9-11). Further, Moses instructed the Levites to store the book of the law along with the ark of the covenant (Deut 31:24-26). Additionally, Israel was instructed that nothing could be added or deleted from these words (Deut 4:2; 12:32).…

  • Scripture

    Can We Trust Our Bible Translations?

    Can we trust our Bible translations? This question naturally belongs as part of our previous series on the King James Version. Some people claim that the King James Version is without any errors in it, thus being the authoritative, inerrant Word of God. However, as we demonstrated previously, there are mistakes in the translation of the KJV. This brings up the question, how can we trust other Bible translations (any of them) if there might be errors in them? This question not only applies to the KJV, but also the newer Bible translations (NASB, ESV, NIV, etc.). In order to work through this question, it will be helpful to consider the following points. 1. God’s Word is Inerrant Only in the Original, not in Translations Because every word of Scripture was given through prophecy, and since prophecy is considered authoritative and accurately representing God (cf. Deut 18:22; 2 Pet 1:21-22),…

  • Christian Living,  Culture,  Scripture

    A Christian Critique of Personal Experience

    Personal experience is currently regarded as the primary means of knowledge and truth in our culture. Whether it is the current issues of racism or LGBT rights, or it is something like biblical interpretation; personal experience is regularly elevated as the controlling determiner of truth. Take for example the following claims of experience: “Systemic racism must exist because I have experienced it.” “You cannot judge a transgender individual because you don’t have his experience. You don’t know what it’s like for him.” “I have had the experience of speaking in tongues; therefore, Scripture has to be interpreted to allow for speaking in tongues.” Now at the outset, I freely acknowledge the value of personal experience. Scripture clearly expects wisdom to be possessed by the mature because of their many days of experience (Job 12:12). Also, many of the Psalms are based on a response to personal experience. Further, our personal…