Skip to main content

Discussing Religious Authority: Who wrote the Bible, God or man?

Written By | Aug 8, 2018
The Bible, Religious Authority, Word of God or man

FLOWER MOUND, TX: If The Bible is to have any authenticity in the continuing discussion of evolution versus creation, its Religious Authority needs clarification. Apparently, there is much confusion over the issue among those claiming to be Christian over who wrote The Bible. Is it the Word of God or Man?

Among the 251 million people worldwide who embrace Christianity (Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s witnesses, and Orthodox Christians), only 37% believe the Bible is God’s word with a literal meaning, while 30 percent believe it is God’s word with multiple interpretations.

Only 26% believe there is only one way to God (Pew Research Center).

The blurred issue of Religious Authority

With such vastly different understandings of the Bible and God among those self-identifying as Christians, little wonder the issue of religious authority is blurred.

Since the reader is asked to evaluate the truth claims of evolution and Christianity, the authority supporting one’s views must be examined. If the stats quoted above reflect actual facts, then a reasoned approach to the problem is sorely needed.

The main source for questioning the authenticity of the findings of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is the Bible. Some scientists would argue that, beyond the Bible, there is scientific data that contradicts evolution. Then it is asked, “What is the Bible?” “Who wrote it?” “Is it trustworthy in modern society?”

Religious Authority of The Bible

The Bible is composed of 66 individual books (39 Old Testament, 27 New Testament) written by 40 authors over 1,500 years. Some were leaders of Israel, kings, prophets, priests, fishermen, a tax collector, even a physician. Some of the main personalities recorded in the Bible did not write any of the books it records: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.

Nevertheless, the Bible is amazingly consistent in its unified message.

Unlike Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” the Bible claims dual authorship: God and man.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

“All Scripture” refers to every book included in the Bible. Peter writes of Paul’s writings,

“He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16) (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

Referring to the Old Testament Law, Matthew calls it the “word of God.” (Matthew 15:4-6) They are to ‘honor their father or mother or they nullify the word of God. It also states that the words come from the breath of God. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6)

How does dual authorship work?

God dictated some words in the Bible word for word: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

While God spoke directly, God’s message generally came through human authors who used their own personalities, literary styles, and grammatical structures. Paul, for example, used reasoned arguments to persuade his listeners of the truth of the Scripture. Luke used known literary sources to construct his books of Acts and Luke. Yet, the result of the author’s work was God’s intended meaning.

Peter offers a glimpse into God’s process of expressing human words to capture the Divine’s meaning.

“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Just because the writers of the Bible claim their words to be God’s words doesn’t make it so. The claims to divine inspiration must be supported with evidence for these claims. Can it be demonstrated that the Bible is authoritative and rises to the level of reliability on some level—any level?

Authority in English Translations

It must also be recognized that the vast number of English translations are not divine in the same way the original message was. The original words in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek have a variety of meanings when translated into English or any other language. English versions can be deemed to be inspired only when they represent the same meaning as intended by the original authors—an interpretive challenge.

This has led to many arguments among Christians as to which is the best translation.

The naturalist’s worldview rejects the Bible’s claim to divine authorship—they deny anything supernatural and conclude it is a human book. For many evolutionists, Darwin’s work is deemed more authoritative than the Bible.

Ultimately, mankind doesn’t have enough knowledge to prove absolutely the existence of God, let alone proof of His direct revelation to mankind. Everyone must deal with possibility, probability, reasoned evidence, and a measure of faith when deciding on authority and trustworthiness.

Can it be demonstrated that the Bible is trustworthy when claiming to present truth? If the Bible can be considered trustworthy, can science rise to a level of trustworthiness that can be equally trusted?

Is there a balance between what science teaches and what the Bible teaches? That’s next.

Donald Brake

Donald L Brake, PhD is Dean Emeritus of Multnomah Biblical Seminary, past president of Jerusalem University College; and is author of: They Called Him Yeshua, How 30 Missing Years Changed Human History, a novel coming in 2018 (with Shelly Beach) Jesus, A Visual History, Zondervan 2014 (with Todd Bolen) A Monarch’s Majestic Translation: The King James Bible, Christian Faith Pub, 2017 A Visual History of the English Bible, Baker Books 2008 A Visual History of the King James Bible, Baker Books 2011 (with Shelly Beach) A Royal Monument of English Literature 2011 (Leaf 1611 KJV) Wycliffe New Testament (facsimile) 1986, IBP