Having been a Christian my whole life, I’m struggling to believe these days. One of the first doubts that started eroding my faith has to do with the divine inspiration of the Bible. I was hoping some of you could help address this.
I started by wondering, “How do we know we have the correct books in the Bible?”
–> Maybe we have too little. There could be books that God inspired, that were lost or left out of the cannon.
–> Maybe we have too much. There could be books that are NOT inspired, that made it in.
–> Maybe none of it is actually inspired… !?
Then I realized this could apply to the paragraphs, sentences, or even words within books.
–> Maybe we have too little. Maybe God’s Spirit was inspiring more than what the human author wrote down, and so any given book could have been longer. They failed to recognize it, or got lost in their own thoughts, or were hindered by sin and thus “missed” some of the truth they might have otherwise had access to.
–> Maybe we have too much. It’s possible that we have divinely inspired sections mixed in with human sections.
–> Maybe none of it is actually inspired.
There are a few possible responses to this:
God would have preserved his Word.
– This would be nice, but we don’t know it to be true. This is just our own idea about what we think God would do. We could easily be wrong. Human ideas about God and what he would / wouldn’t do can be inaccurate.
God guided the men who put together the cannon. And/or he would not allow his church to stray into error on an important issue like Scripture.
– Similar to #1, it would be nice if it was true. But sadly, a cursory glance at church history shows that all sorts of error is permitted by God. Even gross error, of a serious and even heinous nature at times. So these “preservation” arguments don’t work.
These books were written by apostles, and their testimony is true.
– Were they, actually, written by apostles? For a number of books - not least of which is Hebrews and the Gospels - we don’t actually know who wrote them.
– Even granting apostolic authorship for a moment, is apostolic testimony infallible? Clearly not. Just look at Galatians for an instance where Peter (the head apostle! the first Pope, if you’re catholic!) was wrong about an issue that was extremely important to the early church. So even apostles are not spared from believing and communicating error to the church.
– From history we see that even spiritual men and church leaders make lots of mistakes in doctrine and practice.
Again, just to underscore this point: assuming God exists, let’s consider the way he works through humans. He uses flawed human vessels and allows all sorts of error and mistakes… to permeate every area. This is undeniable.
With this in mind, why should we assume that the canon of Scripture was correctly put together? Or that the content of any given book is 100% inspired and infallible, without any human error mixed in? Or that ANY portion of any book is, in fact, inspired and infallible?