The Bible: Part 3: Unity
Marcion was one of the early heretics in Church history. He thought that the God of the OT was different to the God of the NT. He saw the God of the OT as one of law and anger, but the God of the NT as one of love and grace. He took a pair of scissors to the Bible and came up with a Bible that only had a butchered copy of Luke’s gospel and 10 of Paul’s letters. He could not see the unity of the OT with the NT, he could not see the compatibility of love and wrath, and so he created his own Canon. This instinct to attempt to divide and conquer the word of God is a recurring one and raises its head in various disguises in every generation. It comes in the form of uniformed prejudice from those who have never read the Bible who merely repeat the opinions they have heard, that the bible is just a disparate and jumbled collection of books written by men. The theory has popular versions like in Dan Brown conspiratorial The Da Vinci Code that claims that Constantine forced certain books of the Bible to be accepted and other rejected in order to control the religion that controlled the masses. And it can also come from people with PhDs in the form of what is called redaction criticism and form criticism. The assumption behind these views is that the various authors of the Bible where plagiarists who borrowed everything they said from their contexts and, that what they produced was not the work of the Spirit of God and inspiration but was merely a product of the times they lived in. Redaction criticism comes in very unbelieving forms saying that the gospels for example were not the results of Matthew and Mark and Luke, but rather that there was an editor who collected these gospels in their names. They make all sorts of assumptions about the theological influences upon the editor some even speaking of a Marcionite type influence. The OT had been subjected to endless divisions as some have attempted to find the apparent sources behind the Torah for example. A famous one is the J E D P theory. The theory here is that the Bible is a collection of these four major influences. J represents the Yahwist, E represents the Elohist, D is a lawyer and called the Deuteronomist, and P is priest. As they read through the first five books of the Bible they view it as an edited work from four different sources and concerns. That each of these four sources wrote at different times and with different concerns. They then in turn rewrote the history of Israel with their own biases squeezed in and shaping the narrative. The job of the critic is to discover these imaginary sources and to separate them from each other.
Sadly each of these views is fixated on the human authors and attempting to give an exclusively natural explanation for the Bible seeking to make it like any other book. We do not deny that the Bible is the work of men, it is 100% the work of men and 100% the work of God. It is inspired by God, preserved from error, and is not a work of deceit or manipulation. And one of the ways Christians can see the divine authorship of the Bible is its unity. The Bible tells a single story revealing a single author. In short the story is about a God of grace saving a sinful people for Himself by the work of His Son.
Today I want to give a glimpse of this unity. We will do it in two stages. We will look at those verses that tell us what unites the story of the Bible, and then secondly we will look at examples of how this unity is demonstrated.