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Question 293:

Should not the book we believe in be purely received from God and not produced by human reasoning, the content of which can be easily altered?

 

Answer: 

From a Muslim perspective, Islam is based on the Qur’an and so the assumption is made, as Christians are called in the Qur’an, the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab), that Christianity likewise should be based on a book in a similar way to the Qur’an.  This is not the way that Christianity understands itself.  The Bible is not a direct, verbal, literal revelation from God, as Muslims understand the Qur’an to be, but rather a work written, edited, re-worked and compiled by human authors working under divine inspiration.  So, Christianity does not work on the basis of a book “purely received from God” but it also does not see the Bible as a work simply “produced by human reasoning.”  The Christian understanding that the Bible is inspired by the Spirit of God is taken very seriously, and so we can say that “God speaks to the human heart through the words of the Bible.”  Working on this basis, rather than starting from an understanding of an “original revealed text,” Christian scholars are not discomforted by the thought that most of the books of the Bible are the work of multiple authors and have been re-worked and edited during the process of coming to their final form.  Christians believe that the Spirit of God is still at work in those who read or hear the words of the Bible today, leading them into truth, as Jesus promised, and helping them to interpret his Good News in their own lives.

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