The Old Testament as the Word of God

06/02/2014

I have this dilemma about the Old Testament that I’m hoping that someone can help me out with. You see the Old Testament is considered to be the Word of God by the Jewish people and is the basis for their religion and their belief system about God. The Old Testament is also considered to be the Word of God by Christians and, along with the New Testament, forms the basis for their religion and their belief system about God. It just seems to me that that is not possible. The reason for my quandary is that Judaism and Christianity come to different conclusions about what the Word of God in the Old Testament means. After all, by definition, their religions are different, right?

Not to digress, but I was reading the opinion of the Campus Crusade for Christ which addresses the question of why the Old Testament is the Word of God. Their website stated that,“‘Thus says the Lord’, or its equivalent, occurs more than 2,000 times in the Old Testament.”

Aside: For me, theses quotes in the Old Testament about “Thus says the Lord” kind of reminds me of my minister starting his sermon with, “And last night God spoke to me.”

A consensus of historians and theologians say that they don’t know exactly who wrote the Old Testament. So how can anyone accept at face value that these words were actually spoken by God. The answer apparently is that the prophets said so. More to the point, the stories in the Bible written by these same unknown authors say that that’s what the prophets said. How’s that for circular logic!

The only thing that we do know with some certainty is that these biblical passages were finally written down hundreds of years after the events were suppose to have occurred. To make matters worse, the New Testament says that God is invisible, God is spirit and that no man has ever seen God. Therefore, it’s unlikely that God actually spoke to anyone. Further, God apparently hasn’t conversed with anyone else in the last two thousand years or so. Not even a tweet.

And the answer is:

Keep in mind that Christianity has many different denominations some of which interpret the Word of God differently than everyone else, including other Christians. The truth is that there is no one Christianity and there is no one Christian interpretation of the Word of God (Note: even the Campus Crusade for Christ acknowledged the diversity in Christian doctrine as evidenced by the church fathers who differed in their teachings). However, despite the diversity the Old Testament is still suppose to be the Word of God, for everyone – Christians, Jews and, as the Pope would say, even the atheists. You see my dilemma? Help me out.

 

“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says – he is always convinced that it says what he means.”

– George Bernard Shaw

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3 Responses to “The Old Testament as the Word of God”

  1. It seems to me that part of the difficulty here is a gap between how people in contemporary post-industrial societies communicate accounts of events and how people in the ancient world communicated accounts of events. Because people in the ancient world did not have easy access to writing utensils and often weren’t taught to read or write, much of what was communicated was conveyed via oral tradition. And while oral tradition is certainly not a perfect mode of communication, our ancestors were pretty good at it because it’s what they had to use…and they used it a lot. Far more than we do today. We are much less skilled on average at remembering the content of conversations these days because we simply don’t need to bother being very skilled at it given the ease of communication with contemporary methods.

    The Old Testament (or the Tanakh in Judaism) is a collection of various kinds of oral traditions that were written down eventually. So it can’t be that God wrote it in the way that I might write my autobiography, because it wasn’t really written and when it was recorded, it was recorded by those who received the oral traditions. But it might be the word of God in the sense that it described the encounters of the Jewish people with God as they understood them, and in much the same way as my biographer might rightly call my biography the word of me. While I didn’t write the biography, the content of the book came from me and specifically from my stories, from my behaviors, from my relationships with others. That biography wouldn’t be perfectly accurate, of course. The biographer would not know everything and might not have time to tell everything. The biographer might misunderstand some things. But despite its imperfections, I would be willing to grant that the biography was an authentic picture of what I had communicated to the world, that it was the word of me because I had inspired it.

  2. Anyone that claims to be Christian that accepts different denominations in the church is not led by the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 1:10 makes it very clear that those who are Christian are to speak the same thing, 1 Cor. 1:10 does not support different denominations in the church.

    There is only one Christian church and that church are the group of people that no longer practice sin that believe Yeshua is the Messiah (John 20:31, 1 John 5:1 & 1 John 3:9), that is the definition of the Christian church in the New Testament.

    The majority of people that claim to be Christian, practice sin, therefore they are not the church according to what 1 John 3:9 says.

    1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren [the church], by the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

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