Category Archives for "The Bible"

How Do We Know The Bible Is Inspired?

Christian Apologetics , The Bible

 How Do We Know The Bible Is Inspired?

The claim of inspiration is really quite outrageous.  A visual that comes to mind is God dictating, and a 'scribe' writing down word for word what God intended to be revealed to the world through time.  This image, while intriguing yet silly at the same time, is not exactly what happened.  Make no mistake, the writers wrote what God wanted them to write:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."  2 Peter 1:20-21

Inspiration involves two actors:  God and man.  This is not to say that the men were inspired, similar to the way Mozart wrote 'inspirational' music, but rather that God utilized men to produce an inspired product.  The concept of 'inspiration' is described by J. I. Packer thusly:

 "Scripture is not only man's word – the fruit of human thought, premeditation, and art – but also and equally God's word, spoken through man's lips or written with man's pen.  In other words, Scripture has a double authorship, and man is only the secondary author; the primary author, through whose initiative, prompting, and enlightenment, and under whose superintendence each human writer did his work, is God the Holy Spirit."  

J. I Packer; "The Inspiration of the Bible"; The Origin Of The Bible; Philip Wesley Comfort editor (pg 30)

 Some retort that the claim of inspiration can only be attributed to the Old Testament Scriptures, since they were the 'Scripture' of Jesus' time.  But we must understand the attitude of the Apostles and the Early Church.  Peter, in remarks referring to the letters of Paul, attribute to them an origin that is from God, and offers a warning in their misuse:

…just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.  He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters.  His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."  2 Peter 3:15b-16

The inspiration of the Scriptures is evident in several ways:

1)  The Miraculous Design.  As we learned earlier, the Bible is a very complex collection of writings.  It was not written by one person, but over 40, from 3 different continents, in three languages!  All of these writings were accomplished over a period of over 1500 years!  When one considers the unity of purpose, the continuity of the content and the fulfilled prophecy (both described in more detail below), the Bible stands legions above any other so-called 'sacred text'.  It cannot be considered the invention of one man, or of a conspiracy of men.  The first writers had no idea what would be written later.  The later writers had nothing to gain from making up any stories.  The Bible's incredible preservation through the years, proven by the discovery of thousands and thousands of manuscripts and fragments, all displaying the virtual perfection of transmission, would be expected of any book that the Creator would provide for us to be the carrier of His message.

2)  The Continuity Of The Content.  The Bible focuses on one subject:  The establishment of God's authority, and the redemption of man.  This can be thought of as God's message to us, to bring us back together with Him.  The Old Testament begins the drama and describes the 'fall' of man, and describes our need (but utter lack of ability to accomplish on our own) for redemption.  The holiness of God is presented, which is contrasted to the utter failure of mankind to qualify for joining with God.  The long history of mankind's failing struggle to make peace is proof that we need supernatural intervention for our redemption.  The New Testament describes the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a redeemer. 

3)  Fulfilled Prophecy.  God has told us that fulfilled prophecy is one way that we will know something is from Him. 

You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?'  The Bible tells us:  "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken…"  Deuteronomy 18:21-22a

The Bible itself is replete with evidence of confirmed prophecy (over 600!).  Consider these two famous examples: 





[The Lord] says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid."  Isaiah 44:28

When the prophet spoke these words, both the temple and Jerusalem were intact and strong.  'Cyrus' was an unknown entity to them at the time.  100 years later, in 586 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed both.  In 537 B.C., King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the Jews be released to rebuild (a stone cylinder was found confirming Cyrus' decree!)

"I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves.  They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock.  Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets…  Ezekiel 26:3b-5a

In ~550 B.C. when this prophecy was written, Tyre was one of the most powerful sea ports in the world.  In 332 B.C., Alexander the Great began a siege of the island city (that was inhabited due to the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, also as prophesied).  Today, the ancient mainland of Tyre remains flat as a rock, used by fishermen to dry nets!


Another amazing example is the prophecy concerning the Jewish people:





…if you do not obey the Lord you God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees…all these curses will come upon you and overtake you…the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other.   Deuteronomy 28:15bc, 64a

The history of the Jewish people is most unique.  There have been many races of people who have held positions of power and influence in the world, but none share such amazing changes of fortunes as the Jews.  Their history (Biblical AND extra-Biblical) show them both as conquerors and then slaves.  The small portion of the world they currently occupy remains a focal point of world concern.  What other race of people can you recall that has been dispersed, yet retained their heritage?  World history has always referred to Jewish people as Jews, whether they were Polish Jews, Russian Jews, German Jews, etc.  They uniquely maintained their culture despite being disbursed, as the Bible predicted in Deuteronomy.  For a long time, the prediction of Ezekiel was embarrassing, and seemed impossible.  NO ONE could have predicted that a World War would focus on this race, and result in their gathering together again in their homeland!

"I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." Matthew 24:2b  "The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you…they will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."  Luke 19:43a, 44b

I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries…I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.  Ezekiel 36:19a, 24

4)  A 'Super Natural" Message.  The Bible is unique in its message, in addition to the content described above.  In no means does its message benefit any man or institution, as one might expect from a man-made document (indeed, this is one acid test for the other so-called 'sacred texts'.  With a universal 'religious' nature, a natural means of manipulation would be to tap into this nature, and purport to have an answer for the masses, especially one that the particular 'human' writer can fulfill, for a 'price'!)  But the Bible is different!  It does not describe how mankind can redeem itself, as does Buddhism or Naturalism, or many other 'religions'.  The Bible is unique in the message that God is indeed looking for us – and has provided a means to reach him that we cannot achieve ourselves!  There is nothing to be paid, or practiced, only a trust in Him and His grace is required!  Again, this message is unique among all 'religions' that promise a 'peace' that can be earned upon this earth, by human means. 

So is the Bible 'Infallible'?  Is it 'perfect', inerrant, exactly the way that God intended it to be, even in our newest translations?  Christian orthodoxy maintains that the Scriptures were inerrant in the original.  What exactly does this mean?

Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." 

     Proverbs 30:5

Wayne Gruden, author of Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Biblical Doctrine, defines inerrancy thusly:  

The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.  There are several key messages that need to be understood about inerrancy.  1) The Bible must be interpreted as it was intended.  We should read allegory as allegory, statement of fact as statement of fact, description as description, etc etc.  When we say that we take the Bible 'literally', we mean that we interpret what it says as it was intended to be interpreted.  For example, when Jesus says "I am the vine and you are the branches", we do not interpret the Bible as saying that Christ has transformed Himself into a plant and expects us to as well!  (While painfully obvious, that example is a good reminder to those who claim to 'woodenly' take Scripture literally, to the detriment on what was meant in the writing!)  2)  Perspective of original authorship must be allowed.  To claim that a portion of Matthew's gospel conflicts with say, Mark's gospel because they may have documented an instance in a manner that appears contradictory.  We must remember that it is the intent of the passage that meant to be brought across.  Most of the so-called 'errors' of the Bible can be attributed to improper interpretation, or of a mistaken (more on interpretation of the Bible later.)   3)  Orthodoxy does not insist that the modern 'translations' are inerrant.  Does this mean that they are 'wrong'?  What it means is that the Bible is meant to be studied seriously, to determine the intent of the Creator is His originals.  A cursory reading of the Bible is likely to lead to errant interpretation.  When studying the Bible, with the intent of truly determining God's word and will, we must make a diligent effort of pursuit, and work to understand the intent, syntax, context, and history of the passages and translations (more on translations of the Bible later.)

Finally, regarding the inspiration and the Bible, we must remember God's edict to us to follow when considering the Bible, and His purpose of giving it to us:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:14-16

The Bible is Unique

Christian Apologetics , The Bible

The Bible is without a doubt the most amazing, unique, and influential book in history

In fact, it is wrong to think of the Bible as just one book.  It is actually a collection of books, written over a huge period of time in many different locations and by dozens of people.

For a moment, consider that it is not a book that claims supernatural authorship, and approach an open minded survey of it similar to any survey of any object of antiquity.  Since we cannot prove that the Bible is 'inspired' by using Biblical passages (that would be using circular arguments!) we can begin by proving that it is a legitimate and trustworthy manuscript, and THEN consider what it says.  Once it is proven reliable, in fact it will be proven MORE reliable than any other ancient manuscript, we can assume that it is worthy of serious consideration of its subject matter. 

So, consider this assertion: an honest skeptic or agnostic cannot honestly doubt the impact and uniqueness of the Bible.  In fact, the noted French skeptic Rousseau considered the possibility of the Bible being an elaborate hoax and sums up the obvious conclusion as thus:

“I must confess to you that the majesty of the Scriptures astonishes me; the holiness of the evangelists speaks to my heart and has such striking characters of truth, and is, moreover, so perfectly inimitable, that if it had been the invention of men, the inventors would be greater than the greatest heroes!”           As quoted by Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense; pg 406

We have previously discussed the logic of a Creator leaving us a record of His intentions.  If the Bible is truly this record, it should logically stand up to the greatest scrutiny, and provide incredibly insightful instruction.  One must pursue the study of the Bible and its teachings with his presuppositions set aside, and seek the Truth, based upon the evidence alone and not any preconceived notions.  With this in mind, this web is developed to provide basic understanding of the Bible and its history, so that we can consider some basic questions about the Bible, see if it is worthy of our study, and whether it is consistent with what we might expect of a supposed 'revelation' from God.

What is it that makes the Bible so special?

Lets begin with what makes the Bible unique.  Remember our discussion about the Bible's uniqueness when we described how we can know that God exists.  For a refresher:

 More than just any other book, even any other 'religious' book, the Bible is singularly unique.  It is neither a single book, nor is it written by one person, as are most 'religious' texts.  It is a collection of 66 books that were written by 40 or more different authors in three different languages, in 3 different continents.  These books were written over a period of about 1600 years.  The authors represent society at large.  They were not just scholars and preachers, but they also ranged from common folk such as shepherds, doctors, government officials, fishermen, and tax collectors, to Kings.  There are many styles of journalistic method involved, including history, poetry, government records, dialogue, parables, sermons, prophecy, letters and religious instruction.  The Bible has been translated into over 1200 different languages or dialects.  Despite this huge diversity of history, there is one central theme of the whole collection of writings:  that God loves us and has a plan for our lives.

 The only other 'competing' scripture (in the sense that it claims to be the 'word of God'), the Koran, was written by ONE man, and has exponentially less evidence in antiquity, and many other aspects that raise eyebrows for a book that claims 'divine inspiration.'  At a glance, one can tell the vast differences between the Bible and the Koran – but more on that later.

To summarize, the Bible is unique in it's claims, unparalleled in documentation, miraculously transmitted through the ages, clear and unequivocal in its message from God, and capable of changing lives.

The following web pages will assist you in a little more history and evidence, so you can begin your journey of understanding the most amazing book in the history of the world.  And for the sake of Christianity, the Gospels bear the ultimate importance, because they declare the words and works of Jesus and include the cornerstones of the Christian faith.  Regarding these, we can be assured that:

"Archaeological, historical, and documentary evidence, scientific and medical evidence, evidence presented by the arts, evidence of statistical probabilities – all types of evidence exist to prove much more than a sufficient case that the testimony of the writers of the Gospels is true."  Pamela Binnings Ewen, Faith On Trial, pg 11.

By keeping this in mind and honestly and openly studying the evidence provided in this site and elsewhere, we can rationally conclude that the Bible is what it claims to be…the written documentation of the actions of God toward mankind, and was provided by Him for us to study and determine the will of the Creator.