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Reasons to Trust the Bible: Unlocking the Bible's Reliability

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In our second session of this series, we delve into a critical aspect of understanding the Bible's trustworthiness — manuscripts, and textual variants.

The central question we're tackling is: Can we genuinely trust what the Bible records? To address this, we're examining whether the Bible, particularly the New Testament, can be considered historically reliable. We're exploring five key reasons that support our belief in its reliability, one aspect at a time.

Manuscripts and Variants

Some skeptics challenge the Bible's reliability by suggesting that because we lack the original documents penned by the authors themselves, the copies we have must be corrupt, rendering us unable to know the authors' original words. This notion implies that we're dealing with "a translation of translations of translations," obscuring the original meaning. However, this claim doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Now, we focus on the question of transmission: Can we have confidence that the original Bible texts have been accurately preserved throughout history? Are we, as some suggest, left with "hand-copied copies of copies of copies"?

Copies of Copies of Copies?

It's essential to acknowledge that we don't possess the original biblical manuscripts. All we have are hand-copied copies, and yes, the scribes made both unintentional errors and intentional corrections. Furthermore, there are approximately 400,000 variations among Greek manuscripts.

However, this doesn't mean we can't be highly confident about the Bible's original text. The key lies in the thousands of pieces of original-language text found in papyrus, vellum, and parchment from each book of the Bible—around 5,400 distinct pieces for the New Testament alone. These ancient documents, dating back to the first 3-4 centuries of Christianity, offer valuable insights.

The Importance of Many Manuscripts

The presence of numerous manuscripts is significant. Early Christians, churches, and individuals sought copies of these biblical texts. This demand, combined with the absence of the printing press, led to hand-copied versions. While scribes strived for accuracy, they still made some errors.

The existence of so many variants is partly due to the vast number of manuscripts. Variants appear clustered around specific sections of the text. Only in a few isolated cases are there more extensive doubts about the original text.

Significant Variants

While the number "400,000 variants" may seem overwhelming, it's essential to clarify this number. Variants don't mean unique readings; they indicate instances where words, phrases, or letters may differ. However, these variations are not uniformly distributed throughout the text. Most variants are quite unremarkable, with spelling differences comprising around 70% of them.

Textual Criticism: Solving the Puzzle

Textual criticism allows us to piece together what the original document most likely said, just like solving a logic puzzle. By identifying why a scribe introduced a change, we can infer the original text. Some variations are accidental, while others are intentional corrections or clarifications.

Scholars use these variants to arrive at confident conclusions about the original text, and this isn't a critique of the Bible. It's a method for discovering the original message. The vast number of manuscripts, along with textual criticism, underpins our confidence in understanding the Bible's original text.

Conclusion

The charge that we cannot know what the originals said is unfounded. The gap between the original documents and our earliest copies is not extensive. The numerous manuscripts we have, even with variations, enables us to reconstruct the original text with a high degree of historical confidence like the picture on a jigsaw box. The Bible's reliability remains intact.

As we continue this series, we'll explore more facets that affirm our trust in the Bible. But beyond these scholarly discussions, the core question remains: Are we truly trusting the Bible in our daily lives? The Bible offers wisdom for various aspects of our lives, from marriage to finances, calling us to heed its teachings. We'll address this fundamental aspect in the weeks to come.

Warm Welcome Space

Our Warm Welcome Space is open at Cale Green Life Centre every Thursday, from 10am to 3pm

Lots to do

Newspapers, board games and craft activities are available free.

Café open

Open for cake, hot drinks and a light lunch. All free.

Toddlers

Toddlers takes place every Friday morning during school term times, from 9:30am to 11:30am, at Cale Green Life Centre, 71 Adswood Rd, Stockport, SK3 8HR.

Who is Toddlers for?

Toddlers is for children aged from birth through to 4 years old, together with their parents and carers.

What does it cost?

It costs just £2.00 for one adult with one child, plus an extra 50p for each additional child or adult.

What's included in the price?

The charge includes a drink, fruit and toast, and all craft materials.

Coming along for the first time

Just turn up!

We have to limit numbers to 30 children, so it's advisable to arrive soon after we open since Toddlers is a popular group. Once we reach 30 children we are unable to admit anyone else.

A monthly event at Cale Green Life Centre - usually held on a Saturday from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

Come and go as you wish. Stay for as long as you want. Choose how to pray.

The Prayer Space provides creative "zones" for you to pray and reflect, either on your own or with others.

Kintsugi Hope Well-being Groups

The stress and demands of modern living are taking their toll on our mental health and well-being. A Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Group is a safe and supportive space for people who feel or have felt overwhelmed, providing tools for self-management in a facilitated peer-mentoring-style setting.

Groups

Well-being groups run for 12 weeks, each week looking at a different theme of mental or emotional health such as anxiety, disappointment, loss and resilience. Groups are free to attend.

Watch this space for news of when the next group is running.

Aims

The aim of these groups is to equip individuals with self-management tools at the same time as providing space to develop relationships with others.

Sessions

Sessions include group and individual activities designed to help participants to accept themselves, to understand their value and worth, and grow towards a more resilient and hopeful future.

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A chance to meet and chat with other Dads

Who Let The Dads Out takes place at Cale Green Life Centre on the third Saturday of every month from 9:30am to 11:30am.

Who Let The Dads Out? offers a place for you and your children to spend time together having fun while mixing with other dads and their children.

You’ll find a relaxed and warm welcome, tea & coffee & juice, a free breakfast barm and plenty of toys and activities.

Neighbourhood Chaplains

An estimated one-fifth of the UK population (9 million people) are lonely. Charity research says that the UK culture leaves many completely isolated, in what the press is calling “the UK’s loneliness epidemic”.

In response to this, our Neighbourhood Chaplains team aim to help tackle loneliness through befriending. We offer a listening ear and practical help towards meeting our neighbours’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

  • 360Life Church's Neighbourhood Chaplains began operating in the first half of 2022.

  • Help available includes “helping hands” for simple daily tasks which those in need may not be coping with. There is also an opportunity for regular phone calls or visits for those on their own who would like someone to chat to. Volunteers can also offer prayer and signposting to other helpful local agencies and events.

Keep In Touch

Sign-up for our news emails

We won’t bombard you with emails. Emails only go out when we post new updates - rarely more often than once a week.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the Unsubscribe link provided in every email.

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  • Cale Green Life Centre
  • 71 Adswood Road
  • Stockport
  • SK3 8HR
  • 0161 850 8360

The Life Centre car park has disabled parking spaces.

The building has wheelchair access and an accessible toilet.

Wheelchair access is not available to the upper floor, which is used for some children's groups during Sunday services.

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