“Why do you choose to believe the Bible?”
“I choose to believe the Bible because it’s a reliable collection of historical documents written by eye witnesses during the lifetime of other eye witnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfilment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.” Voddie Baucham
This is not using the Bible to defend the Bible; we are not interested in defending the Bible, but rather why we choose to believe it. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.”
The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents
2 Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power." The writers of the New Testament were not interested in writing myths or legends, they were writing about what they saw. They were intentionally keeping a record of their testimony for other believers to read so that we could know the truth about what they had seen. The gospel writer Luke was a physician and a historian. His prologue makes it clear that his goal was precision and truth, not myth. The bible is filled with history, with names and dates and places that can be verified by investigation. We have people who are grasping at straws having devoted their entire lives to undermining the historicity of the bible. In over 23000 archaeological digs we have been able only to confirm historically what we find in the Bible.
Written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses
2 Peter 1:16 “but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Eyewitnesses change everything.
1 Corinthians 15 Paul says that after Jesus was resurrected he appeared to Peter then he appeared to the twelve then he appeared to more than 500 brothers at once – most of whom were still alive at the time of writing, though some had died. Then all the apostles. People often say things like “the Bible that we have is not the same as what was written back then. It’s been doctored so much that what we have now is not reliable at all.”
Argument number 1 is the multiple translation argument.
This is a favourite of professors in colleges and universities. “The Bible has been translated so many times that what we have now is no longer reliable or even resembles what was there earlier. I’m sure you’ve played the game where one person whispers into the ear of another person and another and another and another and so forth, if you have ten people, by the time person number nine whispers into the ear of person number ten, and you go and try to ascertain what was said originally, it sounds nothing like what was given to person number 1.”
But here’s the problem: how do we make a Bible translation? You go back to the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. Not the previous translation. You’ve got to be ignorant in order to make that argument in light of the fact that that’s how we do translation. Or you’re evil and you know better, but you know that these young people are impressionable and ignorant about their own faith and are afraid of their teachers so they will swallow it up anyway.
Argument number 2 is the overzealous monk argument.
This (or something like it) is the idea the DaVinci Code and others have put forth.
“In 324 Constantine called together this council of Nicea and told them to choose 66 books. Then they had to doctor the chosen texts so that Jesus looks like the divine Son of God.” There is no evidence for this whatsoever; it’s all conjecture. The council of Nicea only acknowledged what was already Bible but let’s ignore that and assume that our overzealous monks are going to actually attempt to do this. There are some significant issues with that idea.
For the New Testament alone, we have 6000 manuscripts or portions of manuscripts. We’ve got less than a dozen copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. This is how we know anything we know about Julius Caesar. The earliest thing we can touch was written 1000 years after the original. Aristotle’s Poetics we’ve got less than 10. That’s how we know about the writings of Aristotle. The earliest thing we can touch was written 1400 years after the original. There are no surviving writings of Socrates. The only thing we know about Socrates is that which was written by Plato. For the New Testament we have 6000. The earliest thing we can put our hands on today was written down probably about AD 120 – which is within 25 years of the writing of the originals.
Jesus told his followers “go and make disciples” panta ta ethne that means every people group. The problem with people groups – they speak different languages. So early on in the first couple of centuries, we have the Bible translated from Greek into Syriac, Coptic and Latin. The early church fathers wrote commentaries on the New Testament and quoted extensively from the New Testament in their writings. A recent study found that through the writings of the early church fathers, we can reproduce all but eleven verses in the New Testament.
So in order to pull off this fraud, our overzealous monks have to:
· Learn to lie effectively and consistently in Greek, Syriac, Coptic and Latin
· Find 6000 manuscripts and portions of manuscripts in the Greek
· Change them without showing ink work and get them back without getting caught
· Find all of the Syriac, Coptic and Latin translations of the 6000 Greek manuscripts
· Change them all to match the Greek and get them back without getting caught
· Now find and steal all of the writings of the early church fathers
· Change them all to be consistent with everything else without showing any ink work
· Then get all those texts back where they were stolen from without getting caught
· they would have had to live 300 years in order to get this done
: This is why it is called a collection of reliable historical documents.
They report supernatural events
2 Peter 1:17: He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
These eye witnesses actually heard the audible voice of God. There are many examples of supernatural events in the scripture recorded by eyewitnesses. Some examples are the man with the withered hand [Matthew 12:9-13, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11], Jesus walking on the water [Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21] and the resurrection of Christ [Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-12, John 20].
Events that took place in fulfilment of specific prophecies
2 Peter 1:19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
There are heaps of examples of prophesies in the Old Testament that speak directly to the events of the New Testament. They are specific and are clearly fulfilled. Psalm 22 shows a picture of the crucifixion of Christ written 1000 years before Jesus’ birth, and by someone who had never seen crucifixion; that method of execution had not been invented yet.
They claim that their writings are divine
2 Peter 1: 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
People often say that because a human put pen to paper to write the bible, it is a human book, and subject to the same failings as any human being. The writers of the Bible actually claim to be writing the Word of God. They write about the fulfilment of prophesy in order to verify their claim that none of this is of human origin.
How do you prove that this is the Word of God, rather than the words of men? People often assume you are going to ask them to just believe by blind faith. People today generally think of themselves as people of science, and not prepared to believe anything by blind faith.
The bible never asks anybody to believe anything by blind faith. If God wanted blind faith why did He provide, preserve, and protect for us His self-revelation in the Bible? He doesn’t want us to have blind faith, He wants us to know who He is and trust Him based on the consistency of His character.
So the question comes again, how do you prove that the Bible is the Word of God? People might ask you to prove it scientifically but in doing so they’ve demonstrated that they’re having the wrong conversation in order to make an objection. They fail to understand that the scientific method is no good for proving historical events. In order to use the scientific method to prove something it has to be observable, measurable, and repeatable. History is none of these. When we talk about history we use an evidentiary method, looking for reliable witnesses whose stories are corroborated.
This is what we have in the bible: 66 books, 3 languages, 3 continents, 40 authors, 1500 years.
We have internal consistency and external corroboration through the likes of Philo and Josephus and also through 23000 archaeological digs.
This is why we choose to believe the Bible.
Also: when we tried it… it changed our life.
Something to think about,