…creating awareness for Christians to Watch and Pray

I almost could not believe my eyes seeing this. Mr Femi Aribasala has written an article overtime of the fallibility of the Bible, questioning the authority of the Bible.

As it appeared on Vanguard News today, Ven. Dr Stephen Ayodeji Fagbemi, the General Secretary Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has written replying him. Hear what He said:

“It is difficult to know what Mr Femi Aribisala intends to achieve with his provocative article on the above subject matter in the Vanguard Newspaper of Sunday, October 9, 2016. While this may be a cause of concern and worry to the teeming population of believers in the pews, Mr Aribisala’s article ought not to cause any agitation among believers.

Nonetheless, it is likely that Mr Aribisala has only tried to raise a question that could then enable him learn more while others might benefit from it. The article surely presents him as a non-specialist theologian who mistakenly found some information that he could not rightly process and therefore turned it to the public who might be left rather confused.

The article suggests that the Bible is not infallible because it is selective, that is the compilers of the Bible were selective in the materials they allowed to remain within the canon of the Bible. He also argues that there was double-mindedness in the Church especially because while it accepted the Book of Enoch until AD 363 it later dropped it at the Council of Laodicea. Aribisala argues that the decision of the Church could not have been infallible because the apocryphal books which are included in the ‘current Catholic Bible’ are ‘not in the Protestant Bible’. Furthermore, he states that because the Bible makes statements that appear inconsistent with scientific claims the position of the Bible therefore cannot be said to be infallible. In the overall he confuses the position of the Church with the status of the Bible as the inspired word of God.

These points cannot in anyway invalidate the scriptures as the authentic word of God to His people. The writer of this article has joined the bandwagon of so-called ‘modern people’ who have become critical of the Bible as though it is a scientific book that must be read as such. The assumption that the Bible should be read (in the words of Benjamin Jowett) ‘like any other book’ aided the application of the various rational procedures and questions to the erstwhile divinely given book. ‘Instead of taking scripture as a divinely-given book which is beyond human reason, critics thus assume that it can be treated for the purposes of study, as if it were a human creation.’

The eighteenth century Enlightenment opened the door to the modern age of reason and biblical criticism that later gave birth to the likes of F C Baur and David Strauss who are believed to be the fathers of modern biblical criticism. In spite of their efforts, to which neo-orthodox theologians of the likes of Karl Barth have responded, it is evident that to read the Bible in the way Femi Aribisala and the others have done is grossly mistaken.

The sixty-six books that form the unity of the Bible were handed down as the authentic Scriptures of the Church. As C.H. Dodd rightly notes, ‘These writings have their being, as they had their origin, within the life of a community which traces its decent from Abraham and Moses, from prophets and apostles, and plays its part in the history of our own time; and the Scriptures not only recall its past, but serve the needs of its day-to-day existence in the present.’ But as the Church faced the dangers of extravagances and eccentricities of beliefs, it had to set out its own life and beliefs, guided by the Rule of Faith and the Canon of Scripture.

It was important therefore that it had to select what it believed to be consistent with the faith that had been handed down from the early fathers of the faith. The Canonization of Scripture therefore needed to involve a process of selection, as the Church examined the various materials to ensure that they not only had messages but such as could be said to have been inspired with continual relevance to the generations of the people of faith. This process was guided by a number of factors which included the nature of the content of the book and its consistency with the salvific message of the Bible with Christ as its hermeneutical key.

The infallibility of the Bible cannot be questioned because the leadership of the Church misunderstood the scientific exploits of Nicolaus Copernicus (c.1500), Giordano Bruno and Galileo in the 1600s. That the Roman Catholic Pope apologized for the past mistakes of the Church is a remarkable action that cannot undermine the Scripture in anyway. It must not be forgotten that subsequent scientific advancement was aided by Christians.

The nature or grounds of canonicity is logically distinct from the history or recognition of canonicity. It is the inspiration that renders it authoritative and not the human acceptance or recognition of it. What is authoritative by virtue of God’s involvement is regardless of human agreement with it.

The problem with Mr Aribisala is that he asks the wrong questions, confusing the Church as synonymous with the Bible, and fails to understand the nature of the Bible as a living witness to the relationship between God and mankind, and as a witness to God’s saving plan for the world through Christ, the climax of divine revelation. It is therefore not a science textbook but a supernatural text that answers the questions that science cannot attempt.

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