Why Should We Believe the Bible?
There are a number of ways to answer this question. These may not prove that the Bible is inspired, but they are consistent with that idea.
1. Textual History –
- We have an increasing number of Old and New Testament manuscripts that tend to point to very old history.
- It was popular in the 1900s to say that the Gospels were written after the year 200. We have good reason to date parts as early as within 30 years of Jesus Life (Galatians).
- The Old Testament bears literary similarity to 2nd Millennial BC documents.
- We have more historical documents about Jesus life than we do about Julius Caesar.
2. Distance from Event to Writing
- Buddhist writings were composed as much as 6 centuries after the life of Gautama Buddha. Buddhists are not very sure of the Century in which he lived.
- The New Testament was composed within the life time of eyewitnesses, and they record a shared “oral tradition” from the early preaching of the church. I Cor. 15:1-5 records that which was already received as established teaching by about 55 AD.
- The Bible is written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) over the course of many centuries by over 30 authors. Yet it has a continuity in it’s story line and in its details. (think how much writers, artists, politicians and scientists change over much shorter periods of time.)
- This suggests that God is the author behind the authors.
- There is a lack of internal contradictions: once the supposed contradiction is studied, it is usually found to be a matter of contrast or emphasis.
4. Historical Accuracy
- The Bible describes the Hittites, who were not believed to exist until their civilization was discovered in the 1900s. You can study Hittite at the U of Wisconsin.
- Luke’s use of terms for political offices and regions within the Roman empire in the book of Acts would be hard to replicate by someone who did not live in that time.
5. Prophetic Accuracy
- Daniel describes a succession of Empires that looks very much like the succession of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. So much so that some try to back date the prophecies to explain the fit.
- Ezekiel 26 describes the historical (future) destruction of Tyre.
- Jesus was born, lived, died and rose according to Old Testament prophecies, none of which he could control. (How much say did you have on where you were born?)
6. Fit to Experience – the Bible describes things that are a fit to how life is.
- The succession of seasons, the reproduction of plants and animals by kind are accurate.
- The sense of morality, of our need for eternity, of the existence of a creator within the human hearts cannot be easily explained.
- The brokenness and injustice of this world is realistically described.
- Even the heroes of the bible are imperfect (with the exception of Jesus)
7. The Classic Argument for the New Testament
- We have no reason to doubt the historical accuracy of the witnesses to Jesus life (unless we pre-judge that miracles are impossible).
- These witnesses describe Jesus as the son of God and give evidence of his miracles and teachings.
- In his Teachings, Jesus showed he believed the Old Testament was given by God and was reliable in its details. (Mt 9:12-13/ Hos 6:6; Mt 19:3-6)
- There were many witnesses to Jesus Resurrection – a claim that many died to tell. (I Cor 15)
- Thus from Jesus authority, we hold that the Old Testament is the word of God and it is true. (Mt 5:17-20 ; Jn 10:34-35)
- Jesus claimed such authority for himself and for his Apostles after his departure.(Mt 7:24-29; Jn 17:6ff)
- It is consistent to take the New Testament as God’s word and reliable.
- It is not consistent to claim Jesus was a Good Teacher if so much of his teaching was mistaken.
8. What about Biblical Scholars who reconstruct the Bible as a human document only?
- Consider their presuppositions: e.g. Miracles do not exist; God cannot be cited as a reason for an event.
- Consider their limitations: The biblical material is the main source for understanding Ancient Hebrew – and this is used to inconsistencies of style or vocabulary by scholars working 20 to 30 centuries later.
- Consider the Bible – a “living book” – scholars are limited to studying the body (grammar) and not the spirit (revelation, inspiration, illumination of the Holy Spirit.)
9. Consider the centuries of testimonies of those who have received grace and meaning from the words of this book.