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An Age-Old Conflict
The Bible has for centuries been a source of confusion to men everywhere. Many people have concluded that it cannot be a reliable source of information because so many contradictory theories claim to be based upon its contents. The purpose of this section is to show that the Bible, carefully studied, can be a consistent, reliable source of information.
Men need an Authority
It is in the nature of man to want a good authority for his thought and his behavior. In religious thought, especially, it would seem desirable to have sound evidence as a basis for conclusions. Yet, today man faces a challenge in the field of religious thought: Is there a religious authority? Or is every man to believe what he believes with no more evidence than his own personal preference? Actually, there is an authority. In practice, few men recognize one.
In this section an effort will be made to demonstrate that the Bible can answer reasonably and consistently any question provided the student learn how to use it. This section will endeavor to show that the Bible is, indeed, the ultimate authority which men have been seeking.
What is the Bible?
If the idea is accepted that a personal God does exist, then the student must next decide if he has access to knowledge relating to God. The Bible claims within its covers to be the sole source of information about God and about what He is doing.
This section, therefore, is based on a very important assumption. It is assumed from the beginning that the Bible is what it claims to be the Word of God. Even if every student does not also make this assumption, it is suggested that he temporarily accept it as such while examining the Bible. If its contents do not live up to its claim, he is not obligated to accept it as anything more than another book. If its contents do reveal the answers being sought, he has found what few have found: THE TRUTH.
The initial hypothesis that the Bible is the Word of God is made because there is great strength in studying any matter from a positive rather than a negative point of view. Such a position of study allows a person to see intricate beauties which another person might quickly dismiss as contradictions.
It has been for some time the practice of theological seminaries to study the Bible utilizing various kinds of criticism (text, form, etc.). This approach, however, has been negative. It has, in essence, begun the study of Scripture by saying, "What can we find wrong?" The method of study presented in this section will be totally different from that which is commonly being practiced, but it should give a positive confirmation of the validity of this great Book, the Bible.
Five Separate Interlocking Approaches
1. Exhaustive Topical Examination
2. Study of Symbolic Language
3. Study by Time Frame
4. The Importance of Context
5. Study by Type and Antitype
Because mans mind is not capable of retaining and cross-referencing all of the passages in the Scriptures, study which examines one book of the Bible at a time is somewhat fruitless. How can one be certain that conclusions are correct on any question unless he has examined ALL that the whole Bible says relative to that question? After all, if the Bible is the Word of God, its testimony on a given subject should be consistent and revealing from Genesis through Revelation.
In order to know ALL that the Bible says on a given subject, therefore, it becomes necessary to study a single TOPIC at a time. The study of many topics, one at a time, then, can be carefully molded into a larger, comprehensive picture of what the Bible is about.
The first of the five important methods of study, therefore, must be the examination of one topic at a time.