According to Karl Menninger millions of people in every age would be diminished in their abilities to handle life situations constructively without the stabilizing, under girding, nurturing, value-supporting ministries the churches provide. He further states individuals would have been much more vulnerable to mental, emotional and spiritual illnesses without the psychotherapy programs offered by the Church. This includes the message given to a group from the pulpit by a trained leader. As a society we miss the psycho-spiritual effect of scripture as it is read, spoken, heard and sung weekly during Church services, at home or Bible study. I discuss this in more detail in my books entitled FEED MY SHEEP and MISUNDERSTOOD.
The Bible is the only book that has a psycho-spiritual effect on all readers, Christian or non Christian alike whereby the words literally affect, influence, and or change the mind, will, emotions, makes us aware of short comings and brings remorse that leads to a deep heart change of all humans who hear the words, speak the words, read the words or meditate on the words. This includes all versions of the Bible that preserve the intended messages as translated from the original texts in Hebrew and some Aramaic as it pertains to the Old Testament and Koine Greek as it pertains to the New Testament.
As the main take-away no other book ever written has a psycho-spiritual effect on humans however warming and enjoyable the books are. The Bible is not just a book but a special document expressly given by God verified by its unique psycho-spiritual nature and effect.
The Apostle Paul understood the psycho-spiritual ability of scripture when he wrote "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
The Old Testament was given to man after the 'fall of man' from grace to take man on a daily psycho-spiritual journey to maintain good spiritual, mental, physical, relational, social, financial and comprehensive health first preventively and secondly restoratively. God's goal was to prevent problems which occur in life but also heal and restore when we encounter problems. For example God would instruct "Let not this book of the law depart from out of your mouth" Joshua 1:8, or " Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart." Proverbs 4:21, "This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." Proverbs 3:8. The words of the Bible affects change of heart, mind and body uniquely as a signature sign to all that it is God's express wish, instruction and word to mankind.
Remember, the Christian Old Testament is translated verbatim from the Tanak or the Jewish Bible which is an acronym that means 'Torah - Neviim - Kesuvim' or grouped as Teachings-Prophets-Writings in a different sequence but the books are the same. The Christian New Testament quotes much of the Old Testament and draws historic and cultural contexts all sourced in the Tanak. For more details see my book Many Faces of Judaism by Lemuel Baker, Ph.D
If you are in hearing distance of someone quoting words from the Bible whether you are aware of it immediately or not you are being influenced by its psych-spiritual effect in your spirit, soul and body. For this reason scripture reading is a central part of any Church service and given eminence.
Many people ask a valid question about the Christian Bible and that is how can I be certain the Bible we have today is the actual version that was penned by the original authors and are there mistakes in the texts preventing the true meanings from being conveyed. Can I trust the Bible? These are valid questions that are obstacles to a person’s acceptance of the Biblical World View.
The present text we possess of the Greek New Testament for example which we use today is among the 5,000 plus Greek manuscripts extant. There are approximately 150,000 variant readings. Don’t allow this data to scare you because this data seems as though the ancient scribes made many mistakes with transcribing copies of the New Testament. Not at all.
Of the 150,000 variants in the texts examined over 95% of these variants can be dismissed as changing the meaning of the earliest and best texts. These variants in no way affect the sense of the passages in which they were found. These variants are not influential to the original meanings simply because the variants consisted of minor spelling, grammatical and word order that do not change the intended meanings of the passages.
An example of the variants using English as an example is the sentence “Mary plese walk the dog as soon as yu get home.” The words “please” and “you” are spelled incorrectly but the intended message is quite easy to understand. The misspelled words in no way altered the message.
Most important to the Bible we have today textual critics by applying the textual criticism rule agree not one single historical, doctrinal and theological entry of importance was affected by any of the variations in the copies of the original texts in all of the New Testament.
The truth is all of the scribes did a phenomenal job transcribing the original texts given the results we possess today. The scribes worked within very strict guidelines and had severe penalties for making mistakes.
The New Testament we have today was scrutinized by the harshest critics who know the science of textual criticism. The scrutiny was not passive. The textual critics consisted of expert linguists, historians and scholars. To voice doubts about the Bible’s validity is senseless given the scrutiny it has endured as well as the validation process it was taken through.
The Bible meets every requirement of the original document rule especially because the original primitive documents exist in support of the New Testament versions we have today to test the accuracy of the versions we use today.
The original document rule is important because the time that passes between an original manuscript and a copy of the manuscript the more altered and less reliable the copy. Textual critics show clearly that very little time passed between the writing of the original documents of the New Testament written between 45 AD and 70 AD and the production of the copies we posses today. This is good news for the reliability of the document we currently accept as our New Testament.
What caused so many accurate copies of the New Testament to be available to us even today? The disciples intended their writings be widely distributed and commissioned copies immediately so that in a very short span of time from the original writings copies were sent to many parts of the known world. The more copies made the less chance of loosing the writing. For example if there were only 2 copies of John’s writings none of them would have made it to us today but Saint John and all the disciples immediately commissioned scribes who pain stakingly copied their works and sent them to Egypt and to many churches. Copies of John’s writings were found in Egypt as early as 125 AD only 55 years after he wrote it showing the distribution of his gospel was considerable and swift. The distribution of all of the New Testament shares this wide and swift distribution. For more information see my book Explanation by Lemuel Baker, Ph.D
We must note that scribes who made copies would destroy a copy with just one minor mistake such as one jot or tiddle mistake. The scribes were beyond meticulous which was a mark of their trade. Because of this attention to detail we know that the copies were accurate. The more copies distributed the more copies would survive and many copies of the New Testament did survive with accuracy.
The time span between originals and the surviving copies is very important as we use the original document rule to support the validity of the Bible. The time span between the originals and the surviving copies for most ancient authors such as Aristophanes (play writer), Julius Caesar (historian), Plato (philosopher), Euripides (poet), Horace (poet) and Sophocles (play writer) is 900 years.
This time span between original documents and the surviving copies is vastly inferior to that of the New Testament surviving documents. The comparison shows literally a few years for the New Testament documents and almost 1000 years for writings of antiquity.
The Christian Bible has on it's own 'ability' to influence, change, bring peace, instruct, guide, inform, lead, prevent, restore like no other book written. There is no book like the Bible! Read it, speak it, meditate on it for yourself and let me know what happens or what happened.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]