by Robert G. WittyThe Bible: Fact or Fiction
The Bible: Fact or Fiction? - Part 5 of 10
Editor's note: In his book, The Bible: Fact or Fiction, Dr. Witty proposes a series of tests by which a doubter who is willing to set aside his biases, and judge the Bible as he would judge other books, can be convinced it is the Word of God. In this installment the author elaborates on the Quality of the Message Test.
All books, but especially sacred writings, must undergo the test of the ethical quality of their messages. They must be unique, original, and worthy revelation.
The thirty-nine Old Testament books contrast with all other religious writings in one clear aspect: the quality in their message. The unique message of "deity holiness" distinguishes the Old Testament books from all other religious writings. No other writing, secular or sacred, can claim to have originated or communicated the Bible's unique revelation of ethical righteousness. Even the Koran falls short. The Old Testament presents the first and the unique revelation of one holy God who requires holiness in His worshipers and provides a way to obtain it.
1. The Old Testament reveals the one God who is holy.
Though the Old Testament human writers lived in the midst of cultures whose many gods exalted sexual promiscuity, violence, deceit, child abuse, and degradation of women, these biblical writers presented the unique message of one God of holy character who rewarded righteousness and punished iniquity.
No other Oriental or Western nation projected the concept of a holy god. The Mesopotamians, among whom Abraham lived, reveled in sexual orgies in worshiping their deities. The Canaanite tribes worshiped the god of the lust of the bull. The sun and moon gods of Egypt fell far short of possessing holiness of character or requiring holiness in mankind. Greek philosophy never achieved the ideal of holiness. The gods of Rome magnified the human lusts for sexual immorality and oppressive power. Of all sacred literature, only the Bible teaches the truth of one God who is holy and eternally righteous. This unique message requires an adequate explanation.
2. The Old Testament reveals that God requires holiness in mankind.
Whereas non-biblical religions projected human passions into the character and conduct of their gods, the Old Testament writers called for human character and conduct to be patterned after the holiness of God: "I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves, and be holy, because I am holy" (Lev. 11:44).
This holiness related to every aspect of human life. Not only religious ceremony but personal, family, business, political, and recreational aspects of daily living required conformity to the holiness of God. This unique religious requirement of holiness produced a quality of ethical life that included the rights of women and children, slaves, and properties.
The Old Testament writers revealed a unique system of God-given laws and ordinances that would affect all future generations. Henry Ward Beecher declared that "the Bible stands alone in human literature in its elevated conception of manhood, in character and conduct." Bacon declared that "there never was found, in any age of the world, either religion or law that did so highly exalt the public good as the Bible."
While such quotations could be multiplied, these adequately show that this concept of holiness in God and man is unique to the Bible. It is an established fact that no other secular or sacred book deserves credit as a source of the concept of holiness in God or man-only the Bible.
Further, the actions of the leading characters of the Old Testament contradict any possibility that the concept of holiness was the natural outgrowth of their thought. Moses was a murderer, Abraham and Isaac were lying deceivers, Jacob was a cheat, the patriarch heads of ten of the twelve tribes sold their own brother into slavery, the Hebrews were a rebellious nation, and David was an adulterer and a murderer.
The biblical revelations were possible only by what the Bible claims. Thus the unique concept of holiness gives evidence that validates the Bible's claim that it originated from a source above, not from a rebellious and evil humanity.
No acceptable alternative has been found to the explanation that God revealed Himself and His righteous requirements to the human writers of the Old Testament and, therefore that the Bible is what it claims to be: the Word of God.
Dr. Witty founded the Luther Rice Seminary and served as its president for twenty years. In addition to a radio and internet ministry, he is presently a semi-retired Bible teacher, church consultant, and writer. The Bible: Fact or Fiction? was published in 2001 by CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA 19034.