Last post, I explained my EXACT position on the Bible (I believe that the Bible was inspired and inerrant when it was written, and that the copyists have done an incredibly good job, although not inerrant). This view is often attacked in one of two ways…
- Inaccuracy or change: “The Bible has changed over the years” or “the church leaders changed what it actually said and edited out what they didn’t like.” Et cetera, et cetera.
- Non-supernatural: “Sure, Paul wrote a lot of the New Testament books, but how do we know that Paul didn’t just say whatever he wanted to say, and then just tell us that this was God’s word?”
My explanation of my exact position last post automatically would lead me to argue against the inaccuracy or change…so if you are interested in that, scroll down and click the last post arrow. Other than that, it’s time to move on to the next objection/question: Why do we believe that the Bible is supernatural? And does God give proof in that regard?
Here are some arguments that Christians make that I find totally insufficient.
- “The Bible is the Word of God because the Bible SAYS that it’s the Word of God.” When it comes to apologetics, I have an important rule: I do not put forth any argument that I would not accept from the other side. The Quran says that it is divine revelation. So does the book of Mormon. I do not accept those arguments as convincing from them, so I do not put forth that argument myself. It’s not convincing.
- “As you read it, you can tell that the words simply sound divine.” (Divine meaning “from God”) This is a matter of opinion of what “sounds divine” or not. Islam argues this for the Quran, which is an incredibly poetic book.
So what reasons do I call on to defend my point? Two things…true prophecies and apostolic authority, authority bestowed by Jesus himself. But let’s expand on those two, shall we?
Prophecies coming true:
As I mentioned in previous posts, God doesn’t ask us for blind faith…He asks us for faith, and He gives as much evidence as He chooses to give. So one of the ways that God proves that the Bible is His word is by showing it’s “supernatural-ness” by predicting the future.
Now, let me back up for a second and define “prophecy.” Prophecy by EXACT definition simply means a message from God…however, our culture’s usage of the word “prophecy” tends to mean “prediction of the future.” For this post, I am using the latter definition.
The Bible made predictions that came true. The Bible made these predictions BEFORE they came true. This is one of the reasons I believe the book to be supernatural.
OBJECTION: “Yeah, right. The Bible predicts future events because somebody added those parts AFTER they happened. I might as well write a letter that says ‘World War 2 will end in 1945’ and date the letter for 1910. Would you believe that as prophecy?”
- Our presuppositions color our interpretations. A lot of people do believe that these were added later. But we must remember this rule, and this rule is found in everything. Our presuppositions color our interpretations. Liberal scholars (those who believe that the Bible is not supernatural) date certain books as written for AFTER certain dates based upon the belief that the supernatural doesn’t happen. Other than that…is there any other evidence that they base it on?
Here’s a simple example: Jewish exile to Babylon prophesied by different Old Testament prophets. Other Old Testament prophets predict that exile will only last 70 years.
Anti-supernaturalists: “This must have been written after 538 BC, because there is no way that they could’ve known the future.” (Do they have any reasons to date it for this time, other than that?)
Supernaturalists: “It must have been written before these events…because this was prophecy!” (Again, presupposing that the Bible is the Word of God colors the interpretation of the evidence.)
As you know, I do believe that the Bible is the Word of God. However, I have to watch myself, too. My interpretations are also colored by my presuppositions.
2.For the New Testament: Adding the prophecy afterwards would have taken too much work.
Remember that the letters were distributed rather quickly. In order to add words after certain things happened, somebody would’ve had to follow the copies of Scripture to 1000 different cities at once.
One of the New Testament prophecies that happened: Jesus predicted that Jerusalem would be destroyed. His hyperbole was that “not one stone would be left on top of another.” Sure enough, Titus Antioches sacked and destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70.
If Jesus didn’t really say this, then they would’ve had to change all the copies of Mark’s written gospel and added this portion after 70 AD. Mark’s gospel had already been copied and distributed to many cities. There would be no way to change all the copies. It was not available in Word format. It was not backed up on Google Drive. Sure enough…Jesus predicted it, and it happened. The idea that it was added after the fact is simply too hard to back up.
Modern example: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Isaiah Scroll
Back in 1947, Bedouin goat-herders (Bedouin’s are like, nomadic, wandering dudes in the Middle East) found a cave somewhat close to Jerusalem. They found a bunch of scrolls in a cave. Then, they found more caves. Then they found more scrolls in those caves. So on and so forth. These scrolls came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls was an entire, intact, complete scroll of Isaiah. It was dated to be from about 100 BC, whereas at the time the oldest copy of Isaiah that we had (the Codex Leningrad) was dated at 1000 AD.
So, the two were compared. In Isaiah 53, there were about 17 differences found. But these differences were simply letters being added or omitted. It would be the equivalent of saying “Our current copy says ‘isn’t,’ but this ancient text says ‘is not.’” The meaning did not change. Thus, we found further evidence from the Isaiah Scroll that the Codex Leningrad was accurate.
Why is this significant? Observe. Here is Isaiah 53 in its entirety:
Isaiah 53:1-12 (NIV)
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,and like a root out of dry ground.He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men,a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,yet we considered him stricken by God,smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,each of us has turned to his own way;and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.And who can speak of his descendants?For he was cut off from the land of the living;for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,and with the rich in his death,though he had done no violence,nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,he will see his offspring and prolong his days,and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul,he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied;by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death,and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many,and made intercession for the transgressors.
It seems pretty blatantly obvious that this passage, this passage in which we have a copy that modern science dates at 100 BC, is talking about Jesus. It is talking about Jesus 130 years before this all even happened. It was written sometime around 700 BC.
God wanted evidence to be available, that we may know that the Bible is His Word, because the Bible is supernatural.
The second reason: Apostolic Authority
OBJECTION: “So people wrote the Bible after Jesus ascended, right? Who is to say that they didn’t just say whatever they wanted to say, and then simply claim it was the Word of God?”
REBUTTAL: Remember this tendency: When God puts something NEW in play, He tends to use miracles to back up His point.
Follow me through this line of thought for a moment.
- Jesus came with a message. To verify that this message actually was from God and that Jesus wasn’t insane, God used miracles to show His stamp of approval.
- Jesus gave His closest disciples authority (apostolic authority), saying that whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven, and that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven. In other words, Jesus actually trusted them and basically said that He would back their decisions. They could make decisions for the future of the church. (If they would’ve said “circumcision is required!!!” then it would be required. But they didn’t, saying in Acts, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose no burden upon you other than this…keep away from sexual immorality, and don’t eat meat sacrificed to idols.”
- God did miracles through the Apostles, showing that they had God’s stamp of approval.
- Apostles (those with decision making authority) wrote the New Testament.
This is important because as we answer the question: “Is the Bible the Word of God?” Let me say it like this…God’s Spirit was in these people as they wrote it. However, they weren’t mindless robots as they wrote. The Spirit of God led their hearts a certain direction…however, they were allowed to make some decisions in what they required of the churches or what they didn’t require. And since Jesus said that whatever they bound/loosed on earth would be bound/loosed in heaven, then the words of Scripture stand backed by Jesus Christ, being “His” words while at the same time being “Paul’s/Peter’s/John’s” words, etc.
Scripture was not just made up by guys who were just “really convincing” and inspired a following. Scripture was written by people who, by the power of God, busted out some miracles. God didn’t just ask us to “guess.” God gave evidence.
So why do I have faith that the Bible is the Word of God? Because that faith is reasonable. Faith and reason have never been opposites.
Next time…the three questions that EVERY SINGLE WORLDVIEW tries to answer.