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The Authority of the Text

Clearview Today / Abidan Shah
The Truth Network Radio
March 29, 2023 9:00 am

The Authority of the Text

Clearview Today / Abidan Shah

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March 29, 2023 9:00 am

In this Contends-day Wednesday episode, Dr. Shah talks about what it means when we say scripture is authoritative.

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Hello, everyone. Today is Wednesday, March the 29th. I'm Ryan Hill.

I'm John Galantis. And you're listening to Clear View Today with Dr. Abbadon Shah, the daily show that engages mind and heart for the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can find us online at If you have a question for Dr. Shah or a suggestion for a future episode, send us a text at 252-582-5028, or you can email us at contact at

That's right. You guys can help us keep the conversation going by supporting this podcast, sharing it online, and leaving us a good review on iTunes, Spotify, anywhere you get your podcasting content from. We're going to leave a link in the description of this podcast so you can do just that. I'm very excited about the rest of the day today. I'm looking at the run sheet.

If you're not watching the video podcast, you may not know this, but we have run sheets in front of us, just as a guideline for the episode. But I'm very excited about this first. Why don't you take it, my friend? Okay.

That's an honor. Romans 8, one through two. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. We talk about Christianity, or we hear about Christianity a lot as this oppressive thing. Like, you can't do this because you're a Christian. You can't do this because the Bible says not to. God says not to do this. When in reality, that kind of language is completely contrary to what happens when you become a Christian.

It's not a matter of taking on this burden, these rules you have to follow. There's a spirit of freedom in following Christ. We are bound by sin.

We are bound by responsibility to the law, which is a standard of perfection that we can never attain. But in Christ, we have freedom, and that inspires worship. If you're in Christ, you don't face judgment with God. Discipline, maybe, but not judgment, not punishment. His Spirit lives within you, and his grace, like Ryan just said, has set us free from the power of sin and death, from the law of sin and death. Think about that. That's the law that you're following. It's bondage. But Jesus' blood sets you free because he's paid the price for your sins, because he has overcome sin and death. Now you are reaping the benefits of his foundational sacrifice.

Beautiful. I was having a conversation with David the other day about how people act up in restaurants. How people can go to a restaurant and just act like a completely different person. David, you worked fast food, and you worked in a restaurant.

I did. Not fast food, but I waited tables. I worked in a restaurant too, but I worked in the back.

I'd wash dishes, take the trash out. I was 15. It was a summer job. But I've never dealt with customers. And so I've heard horror stories about customers that I just have trouble believing because I've never seen it.

But David was telling me, he said this, and I think maybe you can agree. People treat restaurant employees like they're NPCs. Yes. 100% yes. An NPC, if you don't play video games, is a non-playable character. It's just like the characters that inhabit the world. Absolutely.

That is a great description. You think so? They think that you are merely a service. You are not an actual person with hopes and dreams and aspirations and a life outside of this establishment. You exist as a function within this restaurant. Yeah, absolutely.

I can totally agree with that. Do you think it's worse in sit-down restaurants, fast food, or do you think it's about the same? I don't know.

I think it could be about the same. Fast food, it's a much more fast-paced environment. So you're exposed to the customer a little bit longer in a sit-down restaurant. But there's that opportunity to build a rapport in a sit-down restaurant where you can have your table see you as an actual person versus a fast food restaurant where you're just like, I'm going to complete this transaction and then be gone.

I don't know. What was it like, David? What were some of the things that brought you to that conclusion, working in fast food? Working in fast food, I don't know what it was, but it was a great experience on the other side of the counter. All the people I was working with, it was fun, had a good time. The people I was working with were all pretty nice people, wanted to do the best they could.

It was just certain customers. They feel like they're owed. That's not me. I'm sorry.

I was giggling, but it's not funny. They feel like they're owed something. I don't know how to describe it. They treat you almost like you're not human. It's so weird.

It's such strong language. I agree with you because I had never worked with customers, especially in food. Even I worked in a grocery store, but I didn't deal with customers.

I worked in the back. I heard people always talk about it, like, man, it's so dehumanizing. I'm like, it can't be that bad. But then you start hearing more and more and more people talk about it. It's like, there might be something to this. I think people just act up in restaurants. It can be. I think some people go to restaurants so that they can act up.

That's what I said. I feel like there are these certain channels on YouTube or these certain things that are self-improvement where it's like, OK, I can do this and I'm going to try to do this and demand this. That way I can get better at being assertive or get better at doing whatever. I feel like people go to fast food restaurants and they're like, this is where I get to try it. On the employees of this fast food restaurant.

This is where I can test this out. Or they watch this YouTuber who's like, do this power move to get this. And they're like, oh, I can do that to the freaking cashier at Chick-fil-A.

What's worse? Dealing with someone like that, but they order completely fine. They just order their steak or whatever, but they're just mean.

Or someone who's nice, but they make the order really, really good. You were telling me your mom will try to mix meals. What was it she did at Georgia? She tried to get chicken wings with no wings or something? She wanted buffalo chicken.

It was just a side of buffalo chicken with a side of mushrooms. I'm going to just completely rewrite the order. I would much rather have had somebody make this completely custom order, but be nice. 100%.

Absolutely. I'll bend over backwards for you. If you're going to be nice, I'll get you whatever you want. I always heard it was really annoying when people would come in and they're like, I want this with no onions, but extra pickles and extra this with no that. It's only annoying if they are irritating. If they're forceful or snooty or if they have a bad attitude and they have a complicated order, that is the worst of all possible scenarios.

But if you're nice and you're like, hey, I'm going to get this, but I want this. Can I sub this? Yeah, if you're nice, absolutely. I'll create a custom dish for you.

100%. I'm willing to bend over. I'll create you a custom dish if you come in with a good attitude. See, I'm that way. I feel like I never order something as it comes. I always want it with no onions, maybe a little extra cheese, give me an extra pickle. That kind of stuff, like extra this or no this, that's not really that.

That's not annoying. Most of the time, if you're in a restaurant setting and you're keying in an order, there are buttons where you can quickly just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. But if you're like, can I get the buffalo chicken with hamburger instead?

I know that started on a bun, but can I get it on a taco shell? Yeah, doesn't your mom do that? That gets a little bit like, okay, you're getting a little out there, but I'm willing to work with you if you're nice. Does your mom do that? Where she's trying to customize her dining experience? Yeah, it depends. If we're at a restaurant that we don't really know, then no, she tries to be kind of normal about it.

I got you. If we're at a restaurant that she knows, Olive Garden's probably the worst. She'll pull up a menu from six years ago and be like, I want that.

Now that is frustrating when someone's like, no, you've done this in the past. I understand that. The menu has changed. We no longer have those ingredients. Or our chefs don't put it together that way anymore. Oh, goodness. That's pretty funny.

My mom, I don't know if she does that, but she is kind of like, well, y'all used to have this. This was on the menu 12 years ago. 12 years later. Well, guys, today is Wednesday, which means that it is Contends Day Wednesday on the show. Our Contends Day Wednesdays, we talk about issues related to apologetics and giving you the tools you need to defend your faith. We're going to get Dr. Sean in just a minute, but if you have any questions or suggestions for new topics, text us at 252-582-5028.

Or visit us online at We'll be back after this. You can have a good finish even with a bad start, and that's where this book comes in. No matter who you are or where you are in life, you're going to get stuck.

Instead of going out and buying some gadget or some planner, like I know I've done several times. I know that's right. 30 Days encourages you to find your fresh start in God's word. Life doesn't have a reset button, but our God is a God who does new things.

His mercies are new every day, which means every day is a new chance for you to start over. You can grab 30 Days to a New Beginning on We're going to leave a link in the description box below. And if you already have the book, let us know what you think about it.

That's right. Send us a text, 252-582-5028. Share what God has done in your life through this devotional. Hey, maybe we'll even read your story on the air. Ellie, you ready to get back to the show?

Let's do it. Welcome back to Clearview Today with Dr. Abbadan Shah, the daily show that engages mind and heart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can visit us online at If you have any questions or suggestions for new episodes, send us a text at 252-582-5028.

You can also email us at contact at That's right. And if you're joining us for the first time today, Dr. Abbadan Shah is a Ph.D. in New Testament textual criticism, professor at Carolina University, author, full-time pastor, and the host of today's show.

You can find all his work on his website. That's That's right. Dr. Shah, welcome to the studio today. Happy Wednesday to you. Happy Wednesday to you guys.

Good to be here. You kind of happy Wednesday to you. You put some real southern charm on that. It's contendsy Wednesday. Give me a little spittoon.

None of that. Today is contends day Wednesday. This is something that we've done a couple of times in the past, something that we love talking about here on the show. Apologetics is so important. It's important for us to be able to not only know what we believe, but to be able to articulate a defense to other people. Not that we're going to go attack people, but that we give a reason.

Just like the Bible says, give a reason for the hope that's within us. Absolutely. It is more and more essential that believers, Christians, church members are aware of the issues plaguing our culture, especially our young people, and be able to give a reasonable defense.

You may not be able to get to the heart of all the issues and come up with all the right answers and the right references and all the footnotes, but you should be able to at least give an answer to what the world or culture or even your own children, grandchildren are asking. That's all we're saying. We think that people are more or less accepting, but faith is under attack for sure. There are people out there who think that the Bible that we base our lives on is just this well-crafted scheme or this fraud meant to control people. That's what they really think, and they think that we're perpetuators of that. It all began with the atheistic humanism that came into our culture back in the 19th century. Prior to that, overall, everybody was okay with the idea that this culture was founded upon or this civilization was founded upon the Judeo-Christian values. They may not all agree. There may be some deists here and there, but atheistic humanism just went to a whole different place. Humanism? Okay, I get it. Man is important, the center.

I don't agree with it. I think God is in all things. He is the center. He is the focus.

But I understand you want to give some attention to humanity or human beings. Atheistic humanism, that's the category that is completely destroying our civilization, where it's not just that man is a center, but there is no God. He doesn't exist. That's where the Bible gives only one half of one verse to the atheist. The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.

So you're a fool. That's a great thing to remember. That's kind of what we want to dive into today is this topic of authority, specifically the authority of God's word. If we don't start there, then that's what undergirds the entire discussion. Can we trust God's word, and to what extent is it an authority over our lives?

Right. People have almost created this narrative that the Bible is nothing but a well-crafted and elaborate fraud to keep this idea of God alive so that they can fleece the masses. It's all fraud. But this is the crutch. This is the opiate of the masses.

This is simply so that the established church can fleece the poor people who are barely eking by their living, their lives, and we're taking whatever little they have to build our castles, to build our massive cathedrals reaching up into the skies. So not true. The whole thing is that the only attack, according to this narrative, the only attack that you have is by asking these questions, and it's always the exact same questions.

No one has ever thought of these questions before. The Bible has errors, though, doesn't it? Aren't there books that aren't in the Bible?

Why is this one more special than other books? And they all, kind of like you said, Ryan, they all go back to authority. The only attack they have is the authority of Scripture. That's right. That's the only thing that they can actually, they can't undermine what it says. Love your neighbor as yourself is solid, and it stands on its own. Jesus' words stand on their own, so they have to go after the authority.

Right, right. And the Bible is unlike any book in the world. It is the word of God without any errors, and it claims authority over all our individual lives, our church, and the world. And submitting to the Bible, the word of God, the Scriptures, is submission to God.

And I would say, even more specifically, submission to the word of God, Jesus Christ. Amen. There's a point that you made in this book right here. I actually switched the books out, just kind of for this episode, because this is Dr. Shah's book, Changing the Goalpost.

This is your dissertation that you wrote for your PhD back in 2019. And I was reading it a little bit. I was kind of reading the introduction. But there's a point where you said, you know, without an authoritative text.

The whole book is about finding the original text and shifting the goalpost back to that search. But if you don't have an authoritative text, then you can't have an authoritative theology. Right. And if you don't have an authoritative theology, you have an unsettled Christian life. That's right.

And I think that's really deep, because we tend to think that textual criticism is just a game for scholars to play. But here, I've got the real, as long as I've got the Holy Spirit in my heart, but you don't have a solid theology based on an authoritative text. It's like your parents are going away somewhere and they give you a list of things. List of things as in dos and don'ts, but also list of things as in information that you need to know. Phone numbers, addresses, instructions about what to do in case of this or that and the other. And they give it to you before they walk out the door.

But let's say you lose it. Now, how do you know what is accepted and what's not? How do you know what to do in case of this and that? You don't have that information. So what you're going by is just your idea of how mom and dad are or their personalities and what they would expect.

There's nothing authoritative left. So how would you make decisions? Just hit or miss. You just got to try it out and see what works and see what doesn't. That's right.

And how noble can you be and how long will you be noble? Well, that's kind of like what you were saying earlier. Now it goes back to my own judgment.

It's human. It's putting me at the center again. I'm just trying this out until I find something that I think might work or might do me some good in life. Mom and dad wrote down, no parties. Right. No parties. When we're gone, no parties, okay?

Because you're going to destroy the house. But you decide to do your own thing. You're like, well, you know, mom and dad want me to be happy.

And happiness is when I'm happy and just having a good time. So parties are okay. Yeah. Or you even made the spin of justifying it like, I'm not throwing a formal party.

I'm just inviting a few friends over. And your rationalization, even though it's tainted by your sinful nature, starts to sway your decisions. So not quite risky business. Right.

Yes. And it's kind of that way because we talk about the original text. It's like, I lost the list. I can't be sure that it was on there. I'm pretty sure they wrote it, but I don't have it. How can I know?

How can I know? And what you have in front of you are many copies that mom and dad left, okay? Every time they went away, they left some copies. So you have all these copies sitting in front of you.

This is great, by the way. Yeah. This is a good illustration.

This is a really good illustration. So all those copies are lying there on the dresser in mom and dad's room. They left it there. And you're saying, well, I don't know for sure which one is the right one. Right. Right. But overall, if you compare those lists, you know what mom and dad expect.

They all say no parties, but I don't know which one is for this time, so I think I can have a party. In one of them, the P was capitalized. Right. In the other one, there's an extra exclamation mark. See?

They did it different each time. Right. Because this illustration is copyrighted, folks. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Someone write this down quick. This is our illustration.

Do not take it. This just evolved. Yeah.

That was pretty cool. I love it when illustrations, like you start to dig into them more, and sometimes they fall apart. But sometimes they hang together. They really stick.

This one seems to work. You know, talking about authority, I think that's, like we were saying, that's the one way that people challenge God is to question his authority. And it's just one of those things that, it's almost, it is non-negotiable, but I mean, either you fall into it or you don't. There is no, like, sometimes I treat him with authority, or sometimes I don't. Yeah.

You know what I mean? So, I mean, if we dig into that some more, you know, we may be able to kind of scratch the surface and know that it's there, but for the benefit of our listening audience, how do we know that the Bible is authoritative? And what does that mean for us? Well, if you go back to the beginning, first is the doctrine of revelation, okay? God chose to make himself known to human beings.

Now, he did that in two different ways. One is general revelation, what you find in nature, what you find in history, what you find in human nature. All that is general revelation.

They're not truths about God, but they're not as clear, they're not as direct about the answer to sin. Like I can't look up at the clouds and be like, I think I need a savior to die for me. Right. And I'm telling for my sins. Yeah.

If you stretch it, maybe you can make it say it, but it's really, you'd be hard pressed. But special revelation is where information is given regarding sin and salvation and a savior. And Bible is that special revelation. This is where those 66 books come in.

The information in them is personal, the information in them is anthropic, the information in them is analogical. It comes as historical acts like Abraham and Isaac and Babylon and exile. It also comes as divine speech where we often hear the prophets say the word of the Lord came to me. And ultimately the book is about the incarnation of Jesus, that one day God is going to come. His son is going to come. Fully God will become fully man and he will die our death. He will die our substitutionary atonement death. And in that process, he will find, he will bring us forgiveness. He will bring us eternal life.

He will conquer death. This is part of that special revelation of God. And it begins in Genesis and it's consummated and completely finished in Revelation. So the authors get this inspiration from God and they record it and they write it down. And this is where inspiration comes in. They get this revelation and now that they've written it down, because it came from God, this is why we can say that the scriptures are inspired. Because they're God-breathed. You know, 2 Timothy 3.16, all scripture is given by inspiration of God, theopneustos, is God-breathed and it's profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction and righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So this is where Revelation becomes inspired because it's God's breath coming to us. And so, you know, it is verbal plenary, which is every word, not just concepts and subjects, plenary, all is equally inspired, even if some parts may be more beneficial than others. Like when I read Leviticus, it's kind of tough to read.

Then when I read, say, James, it's very easy to understand. Very big difference. Yeah. Yeah.

And if we understand this issue of inspiration, that scripture is breathed by God, if we hold God in authority and God is the one who breathes scripture, although it was penned by human hands, it was written by God, can we then say that the Bible, if God is authoritative and this is his word, can we not then say the Bible is authoritative? Yes. Yes.

But let's back up for a second. It's also, it has no errors in it because if there's errors, then authority is weakened. Right. That's a good point. Just like mom and dad telling you to do something, but they made some mistakes.

They made some wrong assumptions. You know, then how, how can I really truly listen? I can, but it's not going to have the same weight as in, this is what we want you to do. Nothing else, nothing less, nothing more this. Right.

Oh wait, our calculations are wrong. The next time to obey mom and dad would be very hard because what if their calculations are wrong? Yeah. What if they're overreaching?

What if they're expecting too much of me? Maybe I will mitigate this. I will go ahead and do what I need to do because they may be mistaken.

Yeah. They may be wrong. And that's the thing is that in our human analogy, like we can all say yes, no, but none of us are human. None of us are error free, but God doesn't claim that. God claims that he is error free.

So even one error kind of takes away that authority completely. Yeah. Yeah. Inerrancy is a corollary of the doctrine of full inspiration of the Bible. So, you know, because we believe God's word Bible is inspired by him, hence it is inerran because God doesn't make any mistakes.

Nice. I noticed that you said inerran and not infallible. That's right. That used to be the word at one time until progressives or liberals, whoever you want to call it, began to use it as a, as a hiding place to say, oh, I believe this is infallible. But what they were really saying is, oh, they, it's only in matters of faith and practice. What is the difference between infallible and inerrant? Well, it shouldn't be any difference. Okay.

Okay. But people have used that word infallible to hide their lack of belief in inerrancy. So, oh yeah, the Bible, God's word.

It will come to pass. But does it have mistakes? Does it have historical problems?

Does it have wrong names? Oh, infallible is like a, is like a watered down version of inerrant. It's basically, okay. It's like saying, hey, look, there may be some mistakes, but it's still the word of God. Yeah.

Okay. But if I open that door, it's like Pandora's box. If I open that door, then I'm opening the door to errors.

I see. It's like the people who are giving God like a back door, way out sort of thing. Just in case, you know, one of those King's genealogies are kind of messed up, you know. Just in case the synoptic gospels don't line up properly, just let's, let's leave the back door open.

So God can give God a little wiggle room. Yeah. He'll have a little dignity on his way out. As if God needs allowance from us.

Yeah. He needs to be given a way out to say, oh, I'm sorry. It's okay, God.

You can, you can slip out the back here. He said, let's give God a little dignity on the way out. I mean, that's exactly what's infallible. Yeah. The idea of scripture, that idea is behind it. And it's kind of in its own way undermines the authority. You know, if we're talking about an authority of scripture, especially a scripture that's claiming to be inerrant, man, that's got to be ironclad. Yep.

Yeah. And so that's how authority is looked upon. And then of course, you know, we talk about which books. So that's where Canon comes in. Those 66 books, 39, old, 27, new. Of course, recent years with postmodernism and all this, you know, inclusivist world, all the apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books are supposedly, you know, also part of the Canon because they were somebody's sacred book somewhere, you know?

And that's not true. It smells like Dan Brown in here. Yeah. Or Bart Ehrman.

Or Bart Ehrman. Yeah. Bart Ehrman didn't like Dan Brown's work. Really? Oh no.

Not a fan. When all this stuff came out about the Da Vinci Code, it was Bart Ehrman wrote a scathing book against Dan Brown. You know, I didn't know that. It was late in life until I realized Da Vinci Code was a novel. I thought it was like, this was really what this guy thought. And this was like his, I mean, maybe it is, I don't know, but I didn't know it was like a work of fiction until a while into it.

That's how sensational that thing was. Yeah. One of those people who have spun that into an entire like system of belief and approach and worldview and all that. People really, people can really take hold of fiction and treat that like it's got some authority behind it. Isn't that crazy? It is crazy. Yeah.

So when we, when we talk about God's word being authoritative, it's authoritative because God said it first of all, and it's authoritative in what it teaches us to do. Is that fair to say? That's absolutely correct. Yeah. They go hand in hand.

Yeah. So important for us. And God said at the top, it undergirds everything that we believe, how we approach apologetics, how we, how we see the world. I mean, if you truly take God's word as authoritative, then it must be followed.

It has to be applied. Now keep in mind, interpretation is different. There'll be times that your interpretation may differ from mine and mine will differ from yours. And that's okay.

In order to obey scriptures have to be properly interpreted and we have to use all the possible methods that will help us get to the heart of what God has said in his word. That's so helpful. If you guys enjoyed today's topic or you have questions or suggestions for new topics, send us a text at 252-582-5028, or you can visit us online at and you can partner with us financially on that same website. We're grateful to those of you who have given, who have contributed and who have joined us as partners in our mission to impact the nations with the gospel of Jesus. That's right. I want to close out on a quote by one of the greatest military minds of all time. This is from Alexander the great. I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep.

I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. Wow. Man, I love that.

Deep, deep. We love you guys. We'll see you tomorrow. We'll see you in the next video, and we'll talk to you today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-31 18:53:04 / 2023-03-31 19:06:03 / 13

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