How Can You Trust the Bible?

Question in Response:

Are you aware of any known factual inaccuracies or contradictions?

Have you looked into the evidence (archaeological, bibliographic, historical) that supports the reliability of the Bible?

One Minute Response:

1. It claims to be reliable–to set forth accurate, historical, eyewitness accounts (1 Jn. 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:16).

2. It proves to be reliable on the basis of bibliographic, archaeological and historical tests.

There exists better manuscript evidence (a greater number of manuscripts, dated more closely to the original and with few significant variants) for the NT than for all of the other top ten pieces of ancient literature combined. (See Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, ch. 1).

World famous archaeologist Sir William Ramsey spent over 30 years examining the gospel writer Luke. He came to the following conclusion (stated in Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, ch. 1):

“Luke is a historian of first rank, not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, but this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness.”

Other ancient historians substantiate the reliability of the NT (Cornelius Tacitus, Seutonius, Flavius Josephus, Younger Plenty, Julius Africanus A.D. 221 quotes Thallus 52 A.D.).

3. The Bible claims to be the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20,21)

4. Evidence supports the Bible’s claim to be the word of God

  • All time best seller, most translated book in history of world.
  • Predicts the future (e.g., over 300 messianic prophecies, cf. Isaiah 53)
  • Unique in its survival through time and persecution
  • Unique in its continuity (40 plus authors from all walks of life, over 1600 years, 3 different continents and languages, writing on hundreds of controversial subjects without contradiction, one unfolding story–reconciliation between God and man.)

Prolonged Response:

Concerning reliability

Ancient non-Christian writers/historians who made reference to Jesus Christ in their writings (see Darrel Heide, “Apologetic Notes,” p. 47. and J. Miller, “Christian Evidences,” p. 21.):

  1. Cornelius Tacitus. Annuls XV. Born A.D. 52-54. Governor of Asia.
  2. Seutonius. Life of Claudius 25.4 Lives of the Caesars 26.2.
  3. Flavius Josephus. Antiquities XVIII 3.3. A.D. 70-90. Born A.D. 37.
  4. Julius Africanus A.D. 221 quotes Thallus 52 A.D. a Samaritan historian who recorded an unusual eclipse that took place at a time that corresponds to Christ’s crucifixion.

Concerning Inerrancy

Objection: The Bible is a human product and therefore it has errors.

Response: The Bible is fully inspired, inerrant in all areas. It can be effectively argued as such on the basis of the following line of reasoning:

  • If the NT is reliable then Jesus Christ did rise from the dead.
  • If Jesus did rise from the dead, then He is the Son of God who knew all things and spoke truth.
  • Jesus referred to the Old Testament as being the authoritative (Jn. 10:35) word of God, inspired and accurate to the most minute detail (Mt. 5:18 “not one jot or tittle”–the smallest marks in the Hebrew language) and the full extent of the cannon (Lk. 24:27, 44; Mt. 23:35).
  • Thus, we can conclude that God was able to deliver, through men, a fully inspired document, preserve it accurately for 1500 years and that God’s people would be able to recognize it from non canonical writings.

Concerning Jesus being deified by followers

Objection/Doubt:

  • Jesus Christ was simply a great man who was idolized by his followers and made into a god after his death.
  • There was too much time between the life of Jesus Christ and the writing of the New Testament for it to be accurate. Thus, He was likely made to appear greater than life by the time the New Testament was actually written.

Response:

  1. 1. Point of Agreement: Such a statement asserts correctly that Jesus’ followers attributed deity to Jesus of Nazareth. Such a criticism therefore must show that the Scripture is not reliable
  2. 2. There is not enough time from the death of Jesus (33 AD) to the writing of the NT for mythology to enter in.
    1. Paul’s letters: Even if we throw out the letters that liberal scholars say Paul did not write, we have seven letters written 16-29 years after Christ’s death. Within those 13 years we find no change in Paul’s Christology. Christ becomes no more supernatural and less human.
    2. Creeds and Hymns of the early church: The early creeds and hymns show that the high Christology did not come from Greek culture and mystery religions mixing with the apostles’ teaching about Jesus.
      • These creeds are identified in Paul’s writings (Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Cor. 15:3-8) by several factors: They translated back into Aramaic easier than the surrounding context, show signs of Hebrew poetry, don’t sound like Paul (e.g. the use sin in plural when Paul uses it consistently in singular).
      • They must have come from early Christian community in Palestine.
      • They are dated within five years of Christ’s death.
      • The early creeds and hymns show that Christ was considered divine and a miracle worker .

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