“All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”​—2 TIMOTHY 3:16, 17.

WHAT a powerful expression by the apostle Paul on the excelling value of the Bible! He was, of course, referring specifically to that part of the Bible available to him at the time​—the writings that people sometimes refer to as the Old Testament. But in principle his words apply with equal force to all of the Bible’s 66 books, including those written by Jesus’ faithful disciples in the first century C.E.

Do you esteem the Bible as highly as Paul did? Do you think that the writers of the Bible really were inspired by God? First-century Christians did. That belief never wavered during the ensuing centuries. Fourteenth-century English cleric John Wycliffe, for example, viewed the Bible as “the infallible rule of truth.” The New Bible Dictionary, commenting on Paul’s words quoted above, states that divine “inspiration, therefore, guarantees the truth of all that the Bible asserts.”

Changing Attitudes Toward the Bible

In recent times, however, confidence in the authority of the Bible has waned. “In theory,” says the handbook The World’s Religions, “all Christians [still] accept the Bible as authoritative, both in guiding their actions and in forming their beliefs.” In  practice, however, that is simply no longer true. Many people now view the Bible as no more than “unreliable human tradition.” Though acknowledging that the Bible writers were men of great spirituality, they see those writers as no more than fallible men who struggled to explain deep spiritual truths but who lacked the knowledge and enlightenment we have today.

In truth, very few people nowadays really let the Bible guide their thoughts and actions. How often, for example, do you hear people say that the Bible’s standards of morality are simply old-fashioned and impractical? Many feel free to water down the Bible’s laws and principles​—or even to ignore them completely when it seems expedient to do so. Some who call themselves Christians blatantly ignore what the Bible says about fornication, adultery, dishonesty, and drunkenness.​—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.

Why is this so? Early in the 20th century, one reason was identified by archaeologist Sir Charles Marston in his book The Bible Is True. People, he said, were too quick to “accept without a murmur many of the speculations of modern writers” who attacked the integrity of the Bible. Could that still be true today? How should you view the opinions and theories of scholars who undermine confidence in the Bible? See what the next article has to say about this.