March 12th, 1917
I am here, Luke.
I desire tonight to write on the subject of "What is the fact with reference to the authenticity of the Bible." I was with you at the lecture of the preacher on this subject, and was surprised that he could announce with such apparent confidence that the Bible is the authentic word of God, actually written by the men whose names appear therein as the writers of the same. The fact that he traced back the existence of certain manuscripts and versions to a hundred and fifty years subsequent to the time of the teachings of Jesus, did not establish the truth of his declaration that by such establishment the authenticity of the Bible, or the genuineness of the manuscripts as they now exist contain the real writings of the apostles, or of those persons who are supposed to be the writers of the same from the fact that their names are associated with these manuscripts.
Neither is it true that John's life was prolonged to the end of the first century in order that he might write the true declarations of the eternal truths as declared by Jesus, for John did not live until that time, and his writings were not preserved as he had formulated them, nor was the results of his declarations transmitted truthfully, as claimed by those who teach the inviolability1 of the Scriptures.
I was a writer upon these sacred subjects, and as I have before told you, I wrote a document which was called the "Acts of the Apostles," and left a number of copies of my writings when I died; but such compilation was merely a history of what I had heard from those who had lived with and heard the teachings of Jesus, and of their efforts to circulate and teach his doctrines after his death. I also had the benefit of some writings of the disciples about Jesus, but such writings were very few, for these disciples and followers of Jesus did not commence to place in the form of manuscript his teachings or the experience of his life until a long time after he had left the earth. They expected his speedy return when he would become their king and legislator, and hence, they saw no occasion or necessity for preserving in the form of writings the truths in which he had instructed them.
I know that after my own death the writings that I had left were not preserved intact, and that many things that I had incorporated therein, were in the numerous copying and recopyings of my manuscripts left out and ignored, and many things that I did not write and that were not in accord with the truth were inserted by these various successive copyists in their work of reproduction. And many of these omitted things and additions were of vital importance to the truth of things spiritual as they had been declared by the disciples as containing the truths that Jesus had taught.
And during the period - and the short period as the lecturer denominated it - between the earliest writings of the fathers of the church, and the times of the actual occurrences of the things to which these writings are supposed to relate and correctly describe, there were many changes made in the writings that I had left, as well as in those left by the other original writers.
Even in epistles of Paul, which these theologians and Bible students claim have more authenticity and greater certainty than the Gospels or other epistles of the Bible, many changes were made between the times of their writings and the times of the execution of the manuscripts or of the sermons of the fathers of the early church.
Within that one hundred and fifty years the truths of the spiritual teachings of the Master, had become to a more or less extent, lost to the consciousness and knowledge of those who attempted to reproduce the original writings, because these men had become less spiritual, and their thoughts and efforts had become more centered in building up the church as a church than in attempting to develop and teach and preserve the great spiritual truths. The moral precepts became the dominating objects of their writings and teachings and were more easily comprehended by them than were precepts that taught the way to the development of their souls and to a knowledge of the will of the Father, and the mission of Jesus to mankind as a way-shower and saviour of souls, rather than as a Messiah to establish his kingdom on earth.
No, I declare with authority that the authenticity of the Bible cannot be established as the word of God, for in very many particulars it is not His word, but on, the contrary, contains many assertions of truth that are not truths and diametrically opposed to His truths, and to Jesus' teachings of the truth.
This Bible has changed and perverted the whole plan of God for the salvation of man, and has substituted a plan that arose from the limited wisdom of those who attempted to convince mankind that they had a knowledge of God and of His designs as to the creation and destiny of man; and they were influenced very largely in this particular by their knowledge of and belief in the teachings of the Jewish church and the history of the Jewish race in its dealings with God, as they supposed, and in the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees. This fact was conspicuously shown by these writers attempting to substitute Jesus in their plan of salvation in the place of the animals in sacrifice in the Jewish plan of salvation. As the God of the Jews in order to be appeased and satisfactorily worshiped, demanded blood and more blood, so the God, that Jesus declared was the God of all the peoples of the earth, in order to be appeased and satisfactorily worshiped, demanded blood and that the blood of His dearly beloved son.
Among these writings of the Bible there are many things declared to be truths, and embodied as the actual words of God, that are contradictory and unexplainable, and which, if they were the words of God, or even the teachings of Jesus, would contain no contradiction, or admit of any constructions that were not consistent one with the other.
As the additions and emasculations and interpretations were made in the original writings of those who declared the truths as they had heard them from the Master, the decreasing want of comprehension of spiritual things and the growing wisdom of their own finite intellects, caused them to conceive a plan on the part of God for man's salvation, and as the recopying continued the thoughts of those who copied, or who dictated the same, became more centered on this plan, and so these copies were gathered together and considered, and efforts to have some agreement in the declaration of this plan; and as the new copies were made they were constructed with the view of showing forth this agreement.
It must not be supposed that the copies from which the manuscripts that are the basis of the Bible were made were executed and preserved in a manner that caused them to be isolated one from the other, and that they were not all known to the persons who copied or caused the copying of the writings from which the manuscripts were made, for that would not be true. These, what may be called the basic copies, were in circulation at the time the Christian fathers wrote, and they had access to them, and quoted from them and helped to give them the interpretations that now prevail in the churches with the additional interpretations since those days.
Men know now that among these Christian fathers were bitter disputes as to what was a part of the word, and as to what should be accepted and what rejected among these writings antedating the manuscripts that form the basis of the Bible and that many manuscripts, purporting to be the word of God were rejected as such, and for the reason that they could not have been the records of God's word, because they did not agree with what the bishops of the church in their human knowledge and reason accepted as God's word should be. Even these bishops disagreed and differed, just as the human minds and reason disagree with one another.
Then I say the lecturer did not prove the authenticity of the Bible as being the word of God. He did not go down the stream of time as he called it, far enough to discover the existence of any authenticity, and that being so, his argument of proof is just as weak as if he had started from the time of the printed Bibles, where their contents are substantially the same, but they not being the originals, the similarity proves nothing.
What I have said with reference to my own writings applies to the writings of all the others. The Bible does not contain their writings as they wrote and left them to humanity.
The Bible contains many truths, and enough to enable man to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, provided they are correctly understood and applied, but there are so many things taught therein as truths, which are just the opposite of truth, that they make it difficult for men to discern and apply the truth, and comprehend the Will of God with respect to men, and the destinies that must be theirs according as they follow and obey that will or do not do so.
John has already written you on this subject with reference to his writings and so has Paul as to his, so that there is no necessity for me to deal with the errors and interpretations contained in their writings.
I will not write more now as you are tired, but will soon come and write a message on another subject that I have been desiring to write for some time.
With my love and blessings, I am
Your brother in Christ,