Does the Bible Need to be Decoded?
Edited by Rolaant McKenzie
There has been some discussion of late
in Christian circles about the new book by Michael Drosnin entitled
"The Bible Code". A brief description of the book is below:
For three thousand years a code in the Bible has remained hidden. Now it has been unlocked by computer -- and it may reveal our future.
The code was broken by an Israeli mathematician, who presented the proof in a major science journal, and it has been confirmed by famous mathematicians around the world.
This book is the first full account of a scientific discovery that may change the world, told by a skeptical secular reporter who became part of the story.
The 3,000 year old Bible code foretells events that happened thousands of years after the Bible was written. It foresaw both Kennedy assassinations, the Oklahoma City bombing, the election of Bill Clinton -- everything from World War II to Watergate, from the Holocaust to Hiroshima, from the Moon landing to the collision of a comet with Jupiter.
The book is based on Drosnin's five-year investigation. The author interviewed all the experts, here and abroad. He spent many weeks with the world-class mathematician who discovered the code, Dr. Eliyahu Rips, and he met with famous mathematicians at Harvard, Yale, and Hebrew University. He talked to a senior code breaker at the top secret U.S. National Security Agency, who confirmed that there is a code in the Bible that does reveal the future.
No one yet knows if the Bible code accurately foretells what is yet to come. But the code may be a warning to this world of unprecedented danger, perhaps the real Apocalypse, a nuclear World War.
In any event, the Bible code forces us to accept what the Bible itself can only ask us to believe -- that we are not alone.
And it raises a question for us all -- does the code describe an inevitable future, or a series of possible futures whose ultimate outcome we can still decide?
One reader of the book made the following comment:
This whole book seemed to shout to me. We are in the end of times. These are the last days. I am going to speak to the entire world in a new manner, and all the earth will hear together. There will be no excuses for anyone. I have come to accept that. If the Hebrew is what they say, then these messages, if you will, must have been placed there by God, for now. There, according to my understanding, is no other acceptable explanation. But I would really like another one.
Stephen Rives, a Christian and computer programmer with an interest in cryptography responded:
What concerns me, is that God has given us His word, the Bible, and it is not able to excite some people as much as these secret Bible codes. Do we need secret codes to get us excited about God's Word? Is the Bible not sufficient in and of itself? Must we find hidden codes to validate the Bible? Are the accounts of the Gospels not sufficient? We have the Law and the Prophets and the Epistles and the Gospels. Do we now need something more? I guess so. However, I tell you, I believe that a faith based on secret codes is a faith that begs the question: "Is it real?" Our forefathers did not need secret codes to get excited about God. Those who went before us and suffered and died for Christ did not need more confirmation than that which is given by the clear teachings of Scripture. Are we so shallow in our trust that, in order to validate our faith, we need the secret mathematical findings of people who do not even believe in Jesus Christ? I believe the Bible is sufficient. I do not need the validation of secret codes. I have the testimony of Scripture, which is far more powerful than some secret codes found by supercomputers. God does not need the testimony of any man, let alone a computer. This whole topic saddens me, because I see people who care nothing of doctrine who are getting excited over the Bible; all in the name of statistical probability. What I am saying is that many people are looking to the writings of people like Michael Drosnin for proof, and the very same people can not even explain the legal transaction of justification. The only thing this phenomena will produce is better mathematicians. I doubt that it will restrain the flesh, and it certainly does not save. This new teaching may bring many to a faith in the Bible. But, such will come to a faith in the Bible that is not in accordance with good works. Many will have a trust founded on secret codes, and will not tolerate sound doctrine. So, I seriously question the value of these secret codes as applied to our faith. Now, I do not deny that the codes exist. I don't believe in chance. I have a degree in mathematics, I understand the probabilities that are at work here. And I realize that there is no such thing as true randomness. However, I can tell you that the same code finding methods have been used by the Muslims for years to validate their sacred writings. Have we become like the Muslims: so unsure of our cannon that we seek for secret codes? Furthermore, the "math" of the Bible is not new. Donald Kunuth, the father of computer science, has developed a book on the mathematics of all the verses that are in the 3rd chapter and 16th verse of each book. So men have long turned to math to make them feel better about their faith. This is not as new as one might think.
Let me assure you, I thank God for everyone who comes to trust the Bible. My passion is that all men would come to do likewise. But I want such a faith and trust to be based of the clear teaching of Jesus Christ and the message of the gospel. No other teaching is of eternal value. When you wrote of these secret codes as saying "I am going to speak to the entire world in a new manner", you have betrayed a hidden belief in the insufficiency of the teaching of Scripture. Do you need a new teaching, because the Bible is not sufficient? You have taken a very big leap! You have gone from a mathematical curiosity, which is not isolated to the Bible, and claimed a new revelation from God. You are claiming new authoritative teaching. What new teaching is this that you bring us? What new words do you want us to hear? I beg of those with the supercomputers to tell us the secret teaching of God. Enlighten the rest of us.
Have you not fallen into Gnosticism? Has it not always been the desire of men to be heard? Are secret teachings, known only by a few, not really a platform for which to set yourself up as a teacher of the secret information from God? Anyone with new information from God will have a hearing from the masses that want to have their ears tickled. Anyone who has some new doctrine will attract a certain following, and the teachers of this new doctrine will be given prominence. This is a serious charge that I bring against the motives of those who claim a new teaching.
I write to you rather seriously, because what you are attacking is the first and most fundamental tenets of Christianity. That is, the belief that the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are the authoritative Word of God, divinely inspired and written in the words of men. And that the Bible is entirely trustworthy and is the final authority in everything it teaches. We do not believe that mathematical codes found in some manuscripts to be of the same divine inspiration. To assert as much, is to assert that the Bible is no longer the final authority. Would you have it be that there is more divine revelation, heretofore unknown, yet equally authoritative?
The fact is, all manuscripts have errors in them, we don't have the originals. This does not mean that we have not retrieved the originals through trusted reasonable methods. For we have. It is exactly because we have so many manuscripts and copies that we are able to reconstruct the Bible. I think a lesson in textual criticism would do most readers more good than a lesson in mathematical probability. If you really want to make your faith sure, look at the manuscript evidences that validate our Scriptures. We can be sure that we have God's word. You can trust the Bible. And if you want evidence, look at the great archeological proofs; look at the prophetic declarations of Christ in the OT; look at the mountain of manuscript evidence; look at the historical proofs. Demand nothing less than historical proof. You will find that God has validated His word, and that He used open and plain methods. Our faith has always been evidential. Evidence that would stand in a court of law. We have sound and reasonable proofs.
Let me recommend a great book that will further demonstrate why we can trust our Bible. The book, by James White, is called "Letters to a Mormon Elder". Now, you might ask, "How can such a book could answer these questions?" Well, Dr. White gives a great run down on manuscript evidences. Let me recount a part of what I learned from his book. Based on all of our manuscript evidence, 75% of all the text from the different manuscripts are in direct agreement, without variation. So the manuscript evidence right away reconstructs 75% of the original Bible without debate. The other 25% of the readings have variations, but of that 25%, 95% can be accounted to scribal errors and simple explanations of common copying problems. As such, it is academic to explain the variations and to arrive at the original. That leaves us with 1.25% of the readings of the Bible that are questioned and debated. However, we have all known variations of that 1.25% preserved in the different manuscripts. And, of the debated readings, none of it is doctrinally significant.
That information should be of value to the person who wants to know that we have the Bible as God meant us to have it. We can have great confidence in the Bible. You can trust it. I believe that every Christian would do well to gain a knowledge of the origin of our cannon. We don't need secret codes or new teachings to have a faith that is founded on fact. The facts are not secret or hidden. The evidence is available to everyone, even to those without supercomputers!
I hope this helps. To claim new divinely inspired teaching, equal with Scripture, is to put yourself in direct opposition to God. Go fearfully as you enter into these new caverns.