By Colleen Tinker


A few weeks ago I read a question on an online forum. The writer, a former Adventist who has been out for a few months, asked how we can know we can believe the Bible. What about all those books that were “left out”? After all, “based on logic”, we can see that the Bible leaves out details that other books include. Therefore, why shouldn’t we consider those books to be as authoritative as the ones included in the Bible?

As I responded to the question, I realized again how as Adventists we were taught to use our own analysis and logic to determine truth. First of all, I wrote, former Adventists have to settle the question of authority. We were taught the Bible was God’s word, and that Ellen White was inspired exactly as the Bible writers were. Because we believed that our prophet was inspired the same way Isaiah and Paul had been, then it fell to us to use our logic to figure out what parts of both the Bible and of EGW we could believe. After all, if the prophet was full of contradictions and errors (and we knew she was), then the Bible, inspired exactly as she was, must also be open to our logical questioning and interpretation, our own decisions about whether its words were true.

This belief is wrong. The Bible makes claims for itself no other work makes in any religion. It states it is God’s own word, God-breathed, living and active, able to pierce even between our souls and spirits, joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Heb. 4:12-13). If the Bible is what it says it is, we absolutely cannot ignore it or change it. God has spoken. Peter (1 Pet 1:23) tells us we are born again through the living word of God, and Hebrews 4:12-13 explains that we cannot separate God’s word from God Himself. God’s omniscient power works in and on us through His living word. How does God’s word work in us so personally? I have no idea, but it does as its Author, the Holy Spirit, applies it to our lives.

If we decide, “based on logic”, that the Bible is incomplete, that other works give details the Bible leaves out, we have just made our own heads the “last word”. We have put ourselves in the position of deciding what constitutes eternal truth. We have essentially just done a version of what Ellen White did: we have added to the Bible and subtracted from the Bible. We have decided that we know better than God what is real and true.

For example, the Book of Enoch was not written by Enoch. Scholars can date it, and it is a much later book than Enoch. Second, the books that were “left out” do not bear the marks of the books in the Bible. They teach different ideas, have different emphases than Scripture, and the books dating from post-cross times that were not included lack apostolic connection: they were not written either by an apostle or by a person who knew and worked with an apostle. They are not eye-witness, immediate books.

Ultimately, the question of Scripture is the ground on which we live out our faith. If we do not believe the Bible is what it claims to be, what the Lord Jesus claimed it was when He, God the Son, told his disciples post-resurrection (Lk. 24:44) that everything written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled by Him, then we are claiming we, not God, have the knowledge of reality. We have made our own heads our own last word.

We are finite and unable to know or see eternity and truth. We have to be made alive and given the mind of Christ, and we are asked to believe Him and to trust His word. If we distrust His word, we are guilty of the oldest sin: the sin of unbelief that caused Eve to question and discuss God’s word instead of obeying it. Our marching orders are to believe, not to decide whether or not God and His eternal word are believable. He reveals Himself to us, we don’t discover Him—but He asks us to trust Him. If we don’t trust Him, we will not be able to trust His word, and if we distrust His word, we are back to square one. We have only our own heads and the deceptions of this dark world into which we are born (Eph. 2:1-3).

There will always be questions which will tempt us to doubt. God’s word, however, reveals the truth and reality of who God is, who we are, and how we can be freed from the tyranny of our unbelief. God has given us His word, and His word—unlike our own logic—cannot fail.

I would rather stake my eternal destiny on what He has said than on anything my head can rationalize.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:12-13). 

Colleen Tinker

Colleen Tinker

Colleen Tinker, the editor of Proclamation! magazine, and her husband Richard left Adventism in 1998 with their two sons, Roy and Nathanael, who were in grades six and ten. They have co-led the Former Adventist Fellowship since 1999. Colleen, a graduate of Walla Walla University, is a former high school English teacher and also the former managing editor of Adventist Today magazine. Colleen became the stepmother of Roy and Nathanael in 1989, and in 2008 she adopted them. Romans 8:15-17 has assumed new depth and significance for her and Richard since she and her sons chose to claim each other legally and permanently. She and Richard share an office and a commitment to sharing the gospel of the true Jesus with all of those seeking a way out of the bondage of the false gospel of Adventism.
Colleen Tinker

One comment

  1. The fact that the Bible makes the claim to being divinely inspired in certain places should not be sufficient reason for us to accept that claim without asking for evidence. After all, Ellen White’s writings made similar claims, as did the Book of Mormon and the Quran.

    Furthermore the Bible is not a monolithic whole. The fact that claims are made in certain books, even if they were true does not mean that all the individual writings were inspired. In some cases other books were written at a later date than these statements about inspiration were made, and then even later added to the canon.

    The claims of each individual book should be examined separately. For example take 1st and 2nd Chronicles. They are essentially records of the kings’ court. There does not appear to be any suggestion that they were inspired, and I seriously doubt that the Jews considered them to be inspired.

    Many people have the mindset that somehow the Bible was essentially delivered direct from heaven. They never stop to realize that there were some very fallible and perhaps corrupt human beings who made the decisions on which writings to include and which to exclude and even destroy.

    Many of the books in the Bible are of unknown authorship. Even the gospels did not contain the names that we know them by until well over 100 years after they were written. We don’t really know who wrote them or whether they were disciples or even eye witnesses. A number of the writings commonly ascribed to Paul are thought to have been written by other people fraudulently claiming Pauline authorship to gain credibility.

    The passage in Hebrews 4 refers to ‘the word of God’ as a ‘He’ who is living and can judge the thoughts, etc.. Most likely it is referring not to a ‘book’, but to a ‘person,’ the same person who is being referred to in John 1:1-4. The idea that the Bible should be called “The Word of God,” is most likely folklore that has grown up around a misinterpretation of Hebrews 4.

    If we are going to be seekers for truth we must not stop with asking questions about Ellen White and and the SDA Church, but be willing to keep digging and ask the hard questions.

    We must be willing to follow the truth no matter where it leads and no matter what it costs.

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