[I have added a few notes of my own which I thought about and looked up while putting together this synopsis]Let’s focus on the NT for now, as the resurrection is the key to the Christian faith (1 Cor 15:14-19), “…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…”When asked why we trust in the bible we shouldn’t just say…
- “I tried it and it changed my life” – This is true of numerous other practices and beliefs too so not necessarily unique to the bible. e.g. the ex-alcoholic who found freedom in Buddhist meditative practices.
- “I was brought up to believe it was true” – people are fallible and just because someone (your parents or a pastor) tells you it was true doesn’t mean it is true e.g. Santa? Or I was brought up in the Catholic church and I now don’t believe all of their teaching.
This is what we can say… (2 Peter 1:16)
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, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Note that although starting off with a bible verse which will lead us into thinking about the arguments below, we will not rely on the self-referential ‘circular’ arguments found in the Bible (Psalms 12:6, Matthew 5:18, 2 Timothy 3:16-17) as we can’t objectively rely on these verses as ‘proof’ of the Bible’s truth.
The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents…
- 66 books
- Over 40 authors
- 3 languages
- Over 23,000 archaeological digs which confirm the Bible’s contents.
The Bible is written by eyewitnesses so we can be confident in its accuracy.
Let’s focus on the NT as the resurrection is the key to the Christian faith (1 Cor 15:14-19), although not written at exactly the same time as the events took place, one other fact provides even greater confidence in its accuracy…
It was written in the presence of other eyewitnesses…
When most of the NT was written there were still people around who were fist hand witnesses to the events described. If these did not actually happen then these accounts would quickly have been proved false. e.g. In 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 would have still been alive at the time of writing.
It reports supernatural events which took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies…
Eye witnesses actually heard the audible voice of God and other supernatural events as recorded in these books e.g. the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:9-13), Jesus walking on the water (John 6:16-21) and especially the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 28:1-10,Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-12, John 20).
There are loads of examples of prophesies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the NT. They are specific and are clearly fulfilled. e.g. 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.
It also claims to be divine…
My own opinion is that there is enough evidence in the points above that we don’t have to rely on the ‘circular’ logic of the Bible telling us that it is divine but it does in any case.
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 fulfillment of prophesy in order to verify their claim that none of this is of human origin.
In conclusion, how do you prove that the Bible is the Word of God?
People might ask you to prove it scientifically. 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. We have internal consistency and external corroboration through the likes of Philo and Josephus and also through 23,000 archaeological digs.
Some arguments against the accuracy of the Bible
Chinese whisper argument – the Bible is not the same as the original any more since it has been translated so many times.
This doesn’t hold up to scrutiny as the translators always go back to original manuscripts to do their translation so no change over time as translations are re-translated.
Over zealous monk argument – At the Council of Nicaea in 325AD, the early church bishops got together to decide what was canonical and what made it into our Bibles. This argument states that they had to doctor the chosen texts so that Jesus looks like the divine Son of God.
There are over 6,000 original documents or portions of documents pre-dating 300AD which support new testament. The ‘monk’ would have had to find and change all of these.
Before Nicaea the NT docs had already been translated into three languages. The ‘monk’ would have had to get hold of these translations, learn the languages and have these docs changed too.
Early church commentaries on the NT books predating Nicaea already existed. These would also have needed found and changed.
Interesting Note: these commentaries actually quote enough of the NT books that 95% of the NT could be reproduced from these even without any of the NT source docs.
No original docs argument – We have none of the original documents how do we know the docs we have are accurate?
The NT books were thought to have been written within the first century AD due to contextual references, journey details of Paul, etc. but we don’t have any copies from within that century. The earliest is from the second century. So it is true that we don’t have the original documents.
However, as noted above, there are a huge number of supporting docs which help provide confidence in their accuracy. The quantity and quality of biblical sources is exemplary for historical documents. Historians place reliance on documents with much less support than the Bible:
– 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
Another synopsis of the video is here: http://www.metanoia123.com/blog-home/why-i-choose-to-believe-the-bible