A majority of the articles on this site present arguments for truth based on interpretations of the Holy Bible. The authors share a common respect and appreciation for the Bible as a foundational source of truth. We believe that the teachings of the Bible are so important that they need to be correctly understood and taught, and errors need to be exposed.
Some readers may not see the Bible as an authoritative source of truth. Our use of Holy Scripture is irrelevant to those who don’t see the Bible as we do. Certainly, much of Western culture has drifted away from a respect for the Bible as the inspired Word of God. For those without an understanding or appreciation of how unique and valid the Bible is, we may as well be claiming that Aesop’s Fables can predict future events.
I come from a science-minded background, having been a software engineer for over 20 years. I consider myself a very logical, reasonable thinker, not one who is driven to believe things based on personal feelings, charismatic speakers, or the winds of popular opinion. I did not come to my position of respect for the Bible lightly. As you can see from some of my other articles, I’m willing to challenge long-held church teachings because I respect the Bible more than traditions.
I know many of my fellow pragmatic realists have heard arguments that throw the claims of the Bible out as unscientific. Perhaps you’ve visited churches that teach strange things or behave like crazy people. Maybe you’ve heard that the Bible has contradictions, that it was written by men with a hidden agenda, or that church/state conspiracies of the past made everything up.
If those things were true, you’d be right to reject the Bible. My question to you is:
Do you know whether those things are true?
Have you searched out the Bible’s validity or lack thereof for yourself?
If not, how “scientific” is your approach to discovering truth?
Obviously, the authority of the Bible is a huge subject. Countless scholars over the centuries have devoted their lives to studying and writing on every aspect of Biblical authenticity, including studies of history, archaeology, and linguistics. It seems possible to find scholars that defend almost any perspective on the Bible, from those who assert its authority to those who dismiss it as complete myth.
Given the complexity of the analysis and contradictory statements from many sides, how can you decide whether you should trust the Bible as an authoritative source of truth? I recommend this approach:
- Start with a willingness to follow truth wherever it leads. Whether you’re an atheist, agnostic, or come from another faith tradition, an honest truth-seeking attitude is absolutely required. That’s not to say that you need to bring an empty head—quite the contrary. The Bible itself expects people to study hard (2 Timothy 2:15), to check facts (Acts 17:11), and to not be deceived (James 1:16). However, if you come to the Bible with an unwillingness to learn or change, you’re wasting your time. If the Bible is true, are you willing to believe it?
- Next, look to the fact that Jesus Christ really existed. According to the best scientific techniques used to research any other historical figure, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was a real Jewish rabbi named Jesus Christ. (For example, see this recent ABC news article.) He really lived and died around 2,000 years ago.
- From Jesus’ existence follows the fact of his actual, physical resurrection. The Bible makes the incredibly bold claim that if Jesus Christ didn’t actually rise from the dead, everything else in the Bible is irrelevant (1 Corinthians 15:3-19). I believe the evidence that shows Jesus died, was buried, the tomb was empty, and many people willingly gave their lives—unwilling to deny that they saw Jesus alive. Several books document the evidence for the resurrection very well, including some listed at the end of this article.
- Given the fact of Jesus’ existence and resurrection, he becomes the clear authenticator for the validity of the Bible. With credentials like that, I’m going to take Jesus’ opinion over anyone else’s. In the New Testament gospel of Matthew, Jesus quotes the Old Testament more than 40 times, quoting from at least 19 Old Testament books. That’s nearly half of the Old Testament books referenced by Jesus in just one gospel. It’s clear that Jesus held the Bible in very high regard.
- With Jesus’ validation, the remaining question is: how accurately has the Bible been translated? How can I know that the Bible I have in my hand is a faithful reproduction of the original? Fortunately, archaeological evidence for the accuracy of the Bible is stronger than nearly any other historical document. Near the Dead Sea, for example, ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament were found that date back to 150 B.C. New Testament manuscripts have been uncovered and verified to be within 40 years of the original writing. These dates are hundreds of years closer than documents about historical figures like Caesar, where earliest known specimens are within 900 years of the originals.
This is a huge area of study with vast amounts of evidence and research. I challenge anyone to investigate the Bible’s historicity and accuracy as deeply as you desire. I will list several books at the end that you should consider in your research.
Once you study and consider these five things, there remains an action on your part: faith, or choosing to believe the evidence. Faith doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about things deeply, or you accept irrational or false ideas. It does mean that with all the possible, reasonable evidence, you come to a conclusion, then step out and decide.
Do you reject the Bible based on hearsay? If what it claims is true, it is the most important book you’ll ever read. Do you take the unscientific approach of rejecting it without actually reading it and studying the evidence for yourself? Will you allow the false teaching of both secular and religious leaders to drive you away from personally investigating its message? Or will you, with a willingness to follow truth wherever it leads, research the scriptures and the evidence and come to your own conclusion?
Resources for your consideration (with thanks to Dr. Bobby Harrington for his excellent library and suggestions):
- John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Walter Kaiser, Jr., The Case For Jesus The Messiah
- F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable
- William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus: Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity
- Douglas Jacoby, Compelling Evidence for God and the Bible: Finding Truth in an Age of Doubt
- Walter Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant
- Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection
- Jeffery Sheler, Is the Bible True? How Modern Debates and Discoveries Confirm the Essence of the Scriptures
- Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ