Part 1 – Is the charge of corruption consistent with the character of God?
I recently read an article about a Victoria Cross lent by the Prendergast family to the National Army Museum. The problem is that the medal held by the museum was examined in 1983 by an expert from Hancocks (the sole makers of the Victoria Cross) and found to be a fake. The contention, which is not our business here, concerns what happened to the real one the family say they lent to the museum.
The reason I bring up this story is to make the point that the difference between the authentic medal and the fake one, was that the authentic one bore certain specific characteristics that linked it back to its origin in Hancocks.
Similarly, that which truly comes from God, must bear the character of God within it. We are not here presenting arguments for the original writings of the Bible being the Word of God. We are taking that for granted, and examining more specifically the charge of corruption. In other words, is it still the Word of God.
There are many different aspects of God’s character that we could consider, but in terms of our subject, let us just focus on four: truth, immutability, faithfulness and omnipotence.
God is true and cannot lie! And this never changes – truth and immutability [John 17:17, Titus 1:2, Malachi 3:6, ]. We can trust that His words, promises and judgements will be fulfilled. They stand the test of time. God will not abandon us, forget to act, or fail to keep His Word. For God is faithful [Deut 7:9, 2 Thess 3:3].
Neither can any man, no matter how powerful, or how cunning, change God’s Word. God is in control of all things. There is nothing too hard for Him. He is omnipotent and therefore able to preserve His Word [Gen 18:14, Jer 32:27, Luke 1:37].
This is all made clear and summarised in the following verse:
‘Forever, O LORD, your Word is settled in heaven‘. Psalm 119:89
I am sure you will agree that God’s Word is preserved eternally in heaven. But how does this impact the preservation of the Bible as the uncorrupted and unchanged Word of God here on earth?
First we learn that God’s Word, while ‘settled in heaven‘, or we could say ‘anchored in heaven’, has not been hidden in heaven, but given to accomplish God’s purposes on earth.
‘So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.‘ Isaiah 55:11
If God’s Word here on earth could be changed or corrupted, then God’s purposes could also be changed, and I think you’ll agree that in view of God’s character, this is impossible, especially when we learn of the indispensable role of the Word of God in working out God’s purpose in our lives.
This is the topic of Psalm 119, already mentioned, and here are a few examples of the practical importance of God’s Word to us.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
25 My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
28 My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
58 I sought Your favour with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
And so, having examined the character of God as true and faithful, immutable and omnipotent, and seeing the importance of God’s Word in working out His purposes here on earth, it seems clear to me that the charge of corruption is inconsistent with who God is.
Further, the Qu’ran itself speaks in similar terms.
‘And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.’ Surah 6:115
Now some Islamic commentators² try to limit the meaning of 6:115 to the fulfilment of divine purpose in the world, rather than the literal words written in the book. They say that while the words in a book, in this case the Bible, can be changed, the truth of God’s revelation in dealing with men does not change.
However, considering the intrinsic link between the literal words in the Bible and the out-working of God’s purpose through those words, I must disagree with their interpretation. The words are the vehicle that bring us to the destination – the fulfilment of divine purpose. We cannot separate the one from the other.
Therefore, in concluding this first part, it is clear that based on the very character and nature of God Himself, we can have confidence that the Bible we hold in our hands today is the uncorrupted and unchanged Word of God.
In the next article we will look at what the Qu’ran itself has to say about the Bible and examine any accusations of corruption.
Part 2 – Is the charge of corruption consistent with the teaching of the Qu’ran?
Until then, God bless you through His Word.
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God’. John 1:1
‘And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth’. John 1:14
1 : It is clear that there are some unreliable versions, that should not be called the Bible. Firstly, there are those that we know evidentially have been tampered with, such as the Jehovah Witness’ New World Translation. Secondly, and to a lesser extent, I would include paraphrase versions that have been so focused on the overall message they have lost the detail, depth and precision of the divine revelation. An example is The Message.
2 : al-Tabari & al-Qurtubi as quoted by Zawadi.