Unity Speaks – Christianity Responds – Program 3

By: Rev. Sarah Travis, Travis Wolfe and Dr. Norman Geisler; ©1981
What does divine inspiration mean? Are there many books (not just the Bible) that can claim to be divinely inspired?

Is the Bible Divinely Inspired?

Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’re glad that you’re here. We’re talking with some friends, and we want to jump in on a topic that we left hanging last week. Travis, you were enunciating a very solid question that a lot of people have. And it was, “Norman, how do you know that the Bible is divinely inspired, and aren’t there other books that are just as divinely inspired?” Maybe you would want to add a comment to that and then, Norman, why don’t you just jump in on this one.
Travis: Yes, I think there are many books that are divinely inspired. In fact, I think all knowledge comes from God.
Ankerberg: And, of course, the book we have in question here to start with is the Bible, and comparing that with other books, other sources.
Travis: Yes.
Geisler: Well, what I would like to say in response to that is two things basically: One, if many books, that is, two or more books – say the Qur’an and the Bible – were both divinely inspired, and the Qur’an says Jesus didn’t die on a cross and the Bible says Jesus did, then we’d have contradictory truths divinely inspired, which is impossible. Either one of those has to be wrong or both of them, but they both can’t be right, because they say contradictory things.
Travis: Does the Qur’an say that Christ did not die on a cross.
Geisler: Yes it does. And the second thing I would like to say is that the Bible is the only book in the world that was personally verified by the Son of God, that is, Jesus Christ who proved to be God by fulfilling prophecy, living a sinless life, pronouncing and accomplishing His resurrection from the dead. No other world religious leader has ever claimed to be God and proven to be God in that way. And Jesus said the whole Old Testament is inspired: “every jot and tittle” of the Old Testament is inspired. [Matt. 5:18] And He promised to inspire the New Testament through the apostles. So this is the only book verified by Jesus to be the Word of God.
Travis: In other words, God has stopped writing the Bible?
Geisler: Well, once God has said everything He needs to say sufficient for faith and practice, there isn’t really anything else He needs to say, is there?
Travis: The door is closed.
Geisler: The door is closed to new revelations, because there aren’t any new revelations.
Travis: Closed to you, but not to me.
Geisler: The door is open, the Bible is open. It has 66 books; anyone who would like to know the Truth, it’s all right here.
Travis: Revelation is not closed to me.
Geisler: Well, how do you get new revelation and how do you test whether it’s a revelation from God or a revelation from man?
Travis: The same way that the people who wrote the Bible got it.
Geisler: How was that?
Travis: Through inspiration, intuition.
Geisler: But now, what if your revelation contradicts somebody else’s revelation?
Travis: That’s too bad.
Geisler: Then God is inspiring two people with contradictory things.
Travis: Well, you…this because you believe in two powers…
Geisler: Logic.
Travis: …right, and logic.
Geisler: Yes, that you can’t say contradictory things and be true. Jesus said and the New Testament apostles said we should discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. [1 John 4:6] And logic says the thing can’t be both true and false at the same time. Now if, of course, we don’t believe in the law of non-contradiction, then we don’t believe in Jesus and the New Testament writers either, because they believed in it. Paul said, “Avoid contradictions,” 1 Timothy 6:20.
Travis: Again, I don’t challenge the reliability of the Bible. I just don’t want to limit myself.
Geisler: But if you don’t challenge the reliability of the Bible, then you should believe that only the Bible is the inspired Word of God, because that’s what the Bible says.
Travis: That would be saying that people who write are not creations of God.
Geisler: No it wouldn’t. It would be saying that everybody who writes outside the Bible is fallible. Only these men who were directly inspired of God write infallible truth.
Travis: You say that. I do not say that.
Geisler: Well, Jesus said in John 10:35 that the Word of God cannot be broken.
Travis: I would like to hear what you have to say.
Geisler: Well, everything I have said is what I have to say.
Travis: And that’s right. That’s the truth.
Geisler: And what I have to say is exactly what the Bible says, because I quoted you only verses of the Bible when I said what I had to say. In other words, my opinion outside the Bible isn’t really worth anything. But if we stick to what the Word of God says – and Jesus and the New Testament writers said 92 times: “It is written… It is written… It is written” – if you can’t find it here, then it really isn’t infallibly true.
Travis: If I wrote a piece and I said, “It is written… it is written… it is written,” would you believe it?
Geisler: If you had fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, lived a sinless life and had resurrected from the dead and claimed to be God, yes.
Travis: You mean, Jesus wrote all the books of the Bible?
Geisler: No, I explained before that He verified the Old Testament books that were written, and He promised the New Testament books would be written through the apostles and prophets.
Travis: Okay, well it’s all clear in your mind I’m sure. It’s not so clear in mine, see, because I’m still open to truth.
Geisler: Well, I’m open to truth, too; but I’m open to truth only where truth can be found. And Jesus said, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.” [John 14:6] And He said, “Thy word is truth.” [John 17:17] So I don’t look for truth any other place than through His Word and in Himself, because He is the Truth and this is the Truth.
Travis: Why do you feel you have to limit yourself to a book?
Geisler: I don’t have to limit myself to it. I feel that God has chosen to speak through His Son and through His Word and therefore, because God has chosen, I must limit myself to God’s revelation.
Travis: What if He chose to speak through you?
Geisler: If He chose to do that, that would be fine.
Travis: Would you know it?
Geisler: But He hasn’t chosen to do that, and He has told me He hasn’t chosen to do that.
Travis: Okay. That’s a good point.
Sarah: What do you believe Jesus’ “Greater things shall ye do….” [John 14:12] How do you interpret that?
Geisler: I think Jesus was referring in John 14, where that verse comes from, to greater works in extent. He had performed as great miracles as anyone could do. But there were more apostles and so there works were going to be greater in extent, but not in nature.
Sarah: And “Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” [Matt. 5:48]
Geisler: I interpret that as the command of the law. Jesus said, “This is the fulfillment of the law,” [Matt. 5:17ff] and the law says be absolutely perfect. But man can’t keep that standard, so that’s to help us to recognize that we’re sinners so we will realize that only Jesus, the Perfect One, was sacrificed for us. And without His perfection, we can never be made perfect.
Sarah: Why would He tell us that? Why would He say, “Be ye perfect”? It didn’t say, “But I know you are a sinner” in parentheses or….
Geisler: He would tell us that so that we would recognize that God’s standard is absolute perfection, and that we couldn’t attain it. “By the law is the knowledge of sin,” [Rom. 3:20] Paul said, so the point was to bring man to the point where he recognizes the impossibility of his keeping the law on his own.
Sarah: If I’m created in my Father’s image and you’re created in God’s image, how can you be anything but good?
Geisler: Because sin entered and the image of God is marred. The image of God is not erased in fallen man, but is effaced. And since sin entered, the image of God is imperfectly manifested in this world. That’s why we’re sinners.
Travis: How did sin enter?
Geisler: Fortunately the Bible answers that one for us. In Romans 5:12 it says, “By one man sin entered the world.” So the literal, historical Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden literally disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the forbidden fruit, and sin entered the world and has been passed down to all men so that all have sinned.
Travis: But what occurred when they ate the fruit?
Geisler: What occurred was several things. First of all, an act of disobedience separated them from God. Death occurred, and death is separation.
Travis: Not right at once.
Geisler: Well, there are several kinds of death. There is spiritual death, which is separation from God spiritually; there is physical death….
Travis: Do you think the spirit can die?
Geisler: I think the spirit can be separated from God, but the spirit cannot die. The spirit is immortal.
Travis: You said spiritual death, though.
Geisler: But I defined spiritual death as the separation of the spirit from God, not the annihilation of the spirit. And I think that what occurred that day was spiritual death, and physical death began to occurred and ultimately sealed. And finally the Bible talks about the second death, [Rev. 20:14] which is eternal death, where everybody who rejects God’s love is going to be separated from God forever in hell.
Travis: Aren’t you forgetting that before their deaths occurred, that their eyes were opened and that they knew right from wrong.
Geisler: Well, first of all that was not before; that was a consequence of their sin that their eyes were opened. [Gen. 3:7]
Travis: Well, that what was while it was happening…
Sarah: May I say the way I see that? Before meaning all they saw was God in Eden; and Adam was the one that decided there were two powers. That was the fall of man. When Adam turned around and decided to name good and evil, God said, “Who told you you were naked?” [Gen 3:11] In other words, “Where did you get this idea that there was anything in this universe but my good?” So it was Adam that turned around and made the decision for evil. It had no existence; only in the mind of man or Adam-man.
Geisler: You must be reading a different account than I read in Genesis, because what is says in Genesis is that God made the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So He was the first one to designate that tree, because evil was already in the universe. Lucifer had already fallen. The devil was already there. Then it says, “The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field.” [Gen 3:1] That’s before they ever sinned. God said, “There is a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Don’t eat of it because when you do you’re going to know good and evil and you’re going to be fallen too.” [Gen 2:17]
Travis: That’s right.
Sarah: But it was in the Garden. God made good and evil, and it was in the Garden. There is a polarity in this universe that we have called good and evil which is the divine polarity, the yin and the yang of everything in this universe.
Geisler: Well, now you say “We have called.” God called it evil first. And you’re saying that evil is not real. You’re saying that death is not real. You’re saying all of this is an illusion. If it’s all an illusion, let me ask you a couple of questions, because you’ve been asking me. If it’s all an illusion, if pain and sickness and death and sin and hell are all an illusion, “an error of mortal mind” as Mary Baker Eddy once said, then where did the illusion come from? Why does it seem so real? And why is the illusion so universal? And why is it when I sit upon a pin and it punctuates my skin, I dislike what I fancy I feel?
Sarah: Maybe we should use the word “secondary reality” instead of illusion. Because, of course, it has reality to the physical vehicles that we’re sitting here in; but it has no reality to the spiritual, eternal Christ that dwells within us. It has no reality at all.
Geisler: It is or is not real? I cannot understand what you’re saying.
Sarah: It’s real if you believe it’s real.
Geisler: So it’s only an illusion.
Travis: We believe.
Sarah: We believe. We’re the creators. We decide.
Travis: Believe. That’s the key word.
Geisler: So we create the illusion of evil, but it’s not real in and of itself.
Sarah: No.
Travis: Belief makes it so.
Geisler: There is no personal evil, devil in the universe?
Sarah: Could I say this about the devil. Do you believe that this is a person? That he has a body and that he….
Geisler: You don’t have to have a body to be a person. God is a Person.
Sarah: I mean, do you believe that the devil is a personality?
Geisler: Yes.
Sarah: Okay.
Geisler: The Bible teaches that Jesus talked to him.
Sarah: Then I would say that Unity students are probably the people he hates the most because, you see, we won’t even acknowledge him or give him, the whole thought of him….
Geisler: So you’re saying there is no personal devil.
Travis: Only in the mind.
Geisler: So then Jesus was hallucinating when He was tempted by the devil; when He talked back and forth with the devil.
Sarah: No, I believe that Jesus called His own ego “Satan.”
Geisler: Jesus’ ego is Satan?
Sarah: That the human part of Jesus….
Travis: The human part.
Sarah: And the temptations were all coming from within.
Geisler: But don’t forget that the human part of Jesus is God Incarnate in human flesh. You can’t separate that, because….
Travis: That’s right.
Geisler: …the Word became flesh. [John 1:14] So the human Jesus is the divine being too, because He has that eternal nature.
Sarah: Well, Jesus had a human nature, too.
Geisler: So what you’re really calling then is God evil because if Jesus is God, and Jesus’ human ego is Satan, then you’re calling God Satan.
Sarah: Well, the Christ in Jesus had no conversation with Satan. It was Jesus’ human nature.
Geisler: But Jesus is the Christ. So the real Jesus did have a conversation, and if Jesus is the Christ, as the Gospels say, and He did have a conversation with Satan, then Christ did have a conversation with Satan.
Sarah: Later on in His ministry, I don’t believe He ever had a conversation with Satan again. But in the early years of….
Geisler: Well, one is enough to prove that he exists, isn’t it?
Sarah: Well, I believe in Jesus’ humanness as well as His divinity, remember.
Geisler: But one Person.
Sarah: One Person.
Travis: Because that was the part of the resurrection was that He was a human and He died and rose again…
Geisler: But if that one Person was God and that one Person talked to Satan, then either that one Person was wacky, talking to somebody that doesn’t exist, or Satan really exists.
Sarah: Oh, the ego exists.
Geisler: Jesus really exists and Jesus is the Christ, and the Christ talked to Satan. But the Christ called His own ego, which is Satan, God?
Travis: Do you find it strange that Christ would talk to Satan?
Geisler: No, not at all.
Travis: Well.
Geisler: But I believe that he is a person. I find it strange that he would talk to an ideal, an illusion. People who talk to illusions, we generally have little white wagons to carry them away.
Travis: Do you not talk to yourself at times? Does your mind not function on….
Geisler: I do not talk to myself as though I am another person that’s tempting me, though, to do evil.
Sarah: I believe that to the people who believe in Satan, he must be real. As real as anything.
Travis: Sure, he’s real if you believe it.
Sarah: I wouldn’t call him an illusion at all.
Geisler: But he’s only real if you believe in him; and for those who don’t believe in him, it’s all in your mind.
Sarah: That’s absolutely right.
Geisler: So it was all in Jesus’ mind.
Sarah: We are the creators of our own universe.
Travis: We create, we are co-creators with God.
Geisler: So Jesus created this illusion of Satan, then, there.
Sarah: I believe so.
Ankerberg: Okay, when we have different points of view, the question I think maybe you at home are asking is, “How can you come to discovering which position you’re going to believe?” And at this point I have to ask you both to lay the evidence on the table for what you are saying. Why should the folks at home go one way or the other? And, Norm, why don’t you start this one?
Geisler: Well, two things I’d like to say. When we disagree as to how much a gallon is, we go ultimately to the Bureau of Measures and Standards in Washington and they have an objective standard there that everyone in the country can measure it by. In the spiritual realm, we also have an objective standard, not just a subjective feeling. You can’t say, “Well, I feel a gallon is this much” or “I feel it’s that much,” it’s, “What is it?” And I believe that the Bible is the objective standard by which everyone can test what is true or false.
Ankerberg: Okay, Sarah? Travis? What would you say is the evidence that would point people to the interpretation that you’re giving?
Travis: Well, it’s a matter of belief. I mean, how can you prove God? You’ve got your book, but can you prove God? You cannot prove. You have to rely on that presence within you to know that there is a God, right?
Geisler: Wrong.
Sarah: Do you intuitively believe that there is a God or have any feeling of a God in this universe other than just an intellectual perception out of the Bible?
Geisler: Yes. It seems to me that God has given plenty of evidence that there is a God, objective evidence in the world. Just to mention one scientifically, we know that the universe is running down. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the amount of available energy is decreasing. If the universe is running down, it had to have a beginning. But since something can’t come from nothing, there must have been someone to produce that something from nothing. So that’s just one objective, scientific argument. I could give you many other philosophical arguments for the existence of God as well.
Ankerberg: Okay, the question, in terms of after he said that, is when you’re talking about feelings, I’m sure that you realize that in our country there are 3,000 religious groups all claiming that their feelings shows that what they are saying is true. Do you believe that God, if He is loving, could actually say something different to every one of these people and still be loving? In other words, He could say to one guy, “This is the way to heaven,” and give him a completely different set of rules than somebody else, and you would still call Him loving?
Travis: That’s because you see division, John.
Sarah: If we are the creator made in His image, then we also create. And we could create heaven and hell. We can create anything we want. So, yes, anything He said: if He says, “I love you, John” and “I love you, Sarah,” and says it in completely different ways, they’re both valid.
Ankerberg: How do we know the word “love” then, if it’s all feeling?
Sarah: We don’t. We have no idea of what unconditional God Love is because we have a limited human concept of love. We have conditions on love. And when people say “God is Love,” it’s hard for us to swallow because of these conditions we put on love. But I think we’re yet to find how much God is Love means and how much that word “love” means. It means total non-resistance to everything. In other words, with no judgment against any of our brothers and sisters on this planet. We’re loving unconditionally the way the Father loves all of us unconditionally. And I don’t believe until just now we’re even getting a clue of what unconditional love must feel like.
Travis: That’s a future revelation, right?
Sarah: No, it’s happening now.
Geisler: But I don’t think that feeling can create any fact. I think facts can create feelings but I don’t think feelings can create any facts. If I feel I’m going south and I’m going north, all the feeling in the world isn’t going to create the fact that I’m going south. There are objective realities to which our subjective feelings must be brought into accord. And the Bible is an objective reality, an objective word from God, and we must bring our subjective feelings in accord with God’s objective facts, not the reverse.
Ankerberg: For example, if I went to the medicine cabinet and it’s in the dark and I pull out the bottles there and I just take something, I might feel that it’s aspirin, but if I really picked up arsenic, it makes a difference, don’t you think?
Travis: But on the other hand, if you believed strong enough that it was aspirin, you might not be affected by the arsenic.
Geisler: Would you like to try it?
Travis: Well,…
Geisler: I’ll give you some arsenic pills and let you try it.
Ankerberg: I think you’d have to admit, Travis, that that’s pretty rugged to handle when you say that.
Sarah: Well, we’re confusing feelings….
Travis: Well, we’re talking about faith. We are talking about faith. Is that not what we’re talking about? Belief?
Sarah: There is a vast difference between the intuitive spiritual level and “feelings.” And many times we don’t interpret the voice of God because it’s filtered through human feelings and human emotions. Therefore, it’s scary to make statements or even to interpret the Bible when we know that we’re filtering the way we see it with our human judgments.
Ankerberg: Sarah, if I were to say to you, though, that in terms of understanding what you’re saying, if I accepted that, how would I have a basis for understanding what you’re even saying? Because it doesn’t have any content to it. In other words, whatever you want it to mean by your feelings, it’s going to mean that. Whatever book I open, it doesn’t necessarily mean what it says, it could mean something else. And so even the fact that I’m saying that, it doesn’t have to have any sense at all. So I could just throw my mind and put it on the shelf over here and whatever is there can happen to me.
Sarah: Yes.
Ankerberg: Is that what I hear you saying?
Sarah: All I can say is that intuitively I can pick up a book, I can’t think of one at random that would be well known publicly, but a book that one person might pick up and read the book and one person might see it as a logical story without anything. Where I intuitively will see God or the Holy Spirit or whatever you want to call it on that book and receive so much more out of that than just logic or intellect.
Ankerberg: Okay, Norm. Would you like to just kind of give a final comment here?
Geisler: Well, my only comment is that God has given us the facts. We are obligated to place our faith in those facts which was that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, and then we will get the proper feeling in response to those facts.
Ankerberg: Okay. Thanks for being with me, all of you. I really appreciate the conversation.

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