Can I trust the Bible?
Non-Christian Historian Evidence
CS Lewis: Chronological Snobbery - the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.
Do Miracles Discredit the Gospels?
The Gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the events of the life of Christ. Early dating shows eyewitnesses were alive when Gospels were circulating and could attest to their accuracy. Apostles often appeal to the witness of the hostile crowd, pointing out their knowledge of the facts as well (Acts 2:22, Acts 26:26). Therefore, if there were any exaggerations or stories being told about Christ that were not true, the eyewitnesses could have easily discredited the apostles accounts. Remember, they began preaching in Israel in the very cities and during the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses. The Jews were careful to record accurate historical accounts. Many enemies of the early church were looking for ways to discredit the apostles' teaching. If what the apostles were saying was not true, the enemies would have cried foul, and the Gospels would not have earned much credibility.
There are also non-Christian sources that attest to the miracles of Christ. Josephus writes, "Now there was about that time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew to him both many of the Jews and many of the gentiles." The Jewish Talmud, written in the fifth century A.D., attributes Jesus' miracles to sorcery. Opponents of the Gospels do not deny He did miracles, they just present alternative explanations for them.
Do we need to defend the Bible?
Keller: Allow people to read the Gospels and they will speak for themselves (ring of truth).
· Gospels were written too early
· Gospels were too counterproductive
· Gospels are not mythological
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
CH Spurgeon: Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.
Keith Ward: The basis of biblical faith is not inferential reason. It is personal encounter. God is the one who liberates us from evil (from slavery in Egypt) and who fills the heart with joy. To have faith is to entrust your life to God. But neither faith nor abstract argument establishes that God exists. Reason tries, often rather feebly, to make belief in God rational -- self-consistent, coherent with other knowledge, and fruitful for understanding. Faith tries, equally feebly, to make the religious way of life a positive, personally and morally fulfilling relationship to God. But belief in the actuality of God, like belief in the actuality of anything real and vital, is rooted in encounter with a personal, moral, liberating, and transforming God.
What about biblical problems?
Do not assume that the unexplained is not explainable.
Do not presume the Bible is guilty until proven innocent.
Do not confuse our fallible interpretations with God’s infallible revelation
Understand the context of the passage. (Make sure you also understand the historical context)
Interpret difficult passages in light of clear passages.
Do not base teaching on an obscure passage.
The Bible is a human book with human characteristics. (Don’t assume that the author’s intent is the same as your own).
Do not assume a partial report is a false report.
Do not assume that divergent accounts are false accounts.
Do not presume that the Bible approves of all it records.
Remember that the Bible uses non-technical, everyday language.
Do not assume round numbers are false numbers.
Remember that the Bible uses different literary devices.
Do not confuse general statements with universal statements.
Later revelation supersedes previous revelation.
Keller:Think of it like this. If you dive into the shallow end of the biblical pool, where there are controversies over interpretation, you may get scraped up. But if you dive into the centre of the biblical pool, where there is consensus – about the deity of Christ, his death and resurrection – you will be safe. It is therefore important to consider the Bible’s core claims about who Jesus is and whether he rose from the dead before you reject it for its less central and more controversial teachings.
Violent Old Testament God?
Richard Dawkins:“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
1. God's command to kill the Canaanites was unique and not a pattern (this is confirmed by the rest of the Bible)
2. God is in control of life and death and allows death as an act of judgement against sin - maybe our perception of sin is far shallower than it should be.
3. The Canaanites were not innocent. They were guilty of vile and heinous sin, including child sacrifice. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)
4. God was not impatient in judging the Canaanites. God's judgement on the Canaanites came after years (430 in fact) of patient warning.
5. Redemption was always possible. As illustrated in the example of Rahab and her family (Joshua 6:17, 22-23). The actions of God in judgement against the Canaanites should act as a warning and an invitation to all to find grace and mercy in Jesus.