I read with great interest Dr. Bill Cummings column of Feb. 16 (The word of God). As a simple lay Christian, with no other credentials or qualifications that I am aware of, I would like to endeavor to answer Dr. Cummings question: When you open the Bible, do you believe you are reading the word of God?
Absolutely. Unequivocally. Given the unique claims that it contains, it is either the word of God, or a worthless tissue of lies and exaggeration. There is no legitimate third alternative. Since we consider it to be revealed truth, Christians should welcome the effort to discover the earliest manuscripts of it available.
Cummings cites sources that claim there are substantial differences between the Old Testament texts discovered at Qumran, and the texts that comprise our modern Bible (primarily, the Masoretic Text). But he defers from stating the nature of those differences. The fact is, the differences are well known and documented, have been for centuries (from our knowledge of the Septuagint), and are virtually entirely limited to spelling variations and stylistic changes. Analysis has shown that the Dead Sea Scrolls are word-for-word identical with the earliest Masoretic manuscripts for 95 percent of the text, though they were written 1,000 years apart.
More importantly, those differences do not affect the central message, nor any vital doctrine. Most importantly, they do not affect in any way the over-arching message of the entire old and New Testament: the story of redemption made possible when God entered our space-time continuum in the person of Jesus Christ.
While an infinite God is surely interested in every aspect of our existence -- including idle chat with our buddies over coffee -- he is infinitely more interested in the one question each of us will eventually stand before him to answer: What did you do with my son, who died to pay the debt of your sin?
W. Wade Stooksberry II is a resident of Macon.