By London Harben
Is the Bible true? A general question asked across the world by Christians, non-believers, and seekers among other religions. So what would you say if someone asked you, “How do you know what the Bible says is true?” Would you be able to answer this simple, yet in depth, question? Would you stare back the questioner and say, “ummm, because I have faith?” Well let us look at WHY we should trust the Bible, and WHY it can be considered a viable text from ancient origins so you can be prepared to give and answer. (Review and pray over 1 Peter 3:15)
What evidence backs the Bible as historically reliable? Is it a book full of fairy tales and make-believe like many claim; or is it a text that is divinely inspired and is a letter of how to live from God himself? Did you know the Bible is much more widely accepted as a legitimate collection of historical books in the East compared to the West? The West’s doubts are a topic for another day, but know we as believers — or even seekers of truth — we must stand for what IS TRUE, so let us start. (In the beginning was the Word, ‘the Word’ – a translation of the Greek word ‘Logos’ and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.) – John 1:1
The Bible is a compilation of 66 books, written over more than 1400 years, by an estimated 40 people (this estimate varies), most of which have never met, and are hundreds or thousands of miles apart. What could all of these writers have in common? They ALL point towards God and agree on His doctrines. So what? We can argue that these books were collaborated by powerful people trying to push their own agendas upon the world. Or can we challenge these questions…?
We have in our current collection, which continues to grow, over 20,000 manuscripts of ancient biblical texts written in various languages, collected from many different locations, and many of which are dated back to 2,000 years. What about textual variations, London? Great question! The variances seen in over 99% of the manuscripts are verified as the same with the only variations being minor grammatical differences. What does this mean? It means no context, command or direct meanings are affected. But what about the many variations or issues with recordings with different writings among our many copies? These variations allow us to compare the texts in an accumulated view to compile the TRUE meanings of the texts and choose the correct canonical texts to carry on the most accurate version of the texts overall; in other words, the discrepancies seen allow us to make an accurate Bible-based conclusion on any variety of recordings found with the manuscripts.
The New Testament alone has thousands of copies and contains literary writings that can be traced back to within less than the assumed 40+ years after the resurrection. This claim is made by a non-believer below which is backed by other professionals in the field (please read up on Gary Habermas for other supportive works on the historicity of the Resurrection). Bold claims, and yet supportive evidence that is there, cannot be rationally denied. You may also compare the Bible to ANY other ancient work of history and it will surpass in authenticity by sheer volume and accuracy without contest. See Homer’s Iliad – 643 manuscripts , Plato – not a single full copy within a 1,000 years of his writing , or research other classical literature for yourself to see how it compares. Note, we recognize many ancient works as valid and accurate writings, so why is there so much doubt in our society today? If an All Loving God wanted us to have an accurate message delivered to us, you have to ask, “would he give it to us in a simple form, or would he have it transcribed by hundreds of people from around the ancient world to an extent you could remove every copy from existence and His word would STILL exist in quotations made in letters between church leaders? Hmmmm something to think about; this is just one aspect to revere compared to the centuries of theological, moral, and philosophical contemplation made by millions of humans without necessarily fully understanding the Bibles loving teachings in their entirety.
Can anyone explain why an Agnostic/Atheist who is a professional in the field with a P.H.D., M. Div. and holds a chair position in New Testament criticism would argue for the historical accuracy of the Bible? Dr. Bart Ehrman has professional debates with fellow non-believers on the subject regarding the validity of the Bible as historically accurate. He, a non-believer positively affirms the life of Jesus, His death, and recognizes that His disciples believe they saw Him resurrected, and that they were willing to die for what they believed they saw (many were martyred- “killed” in the name of faith and their belief in Christ). These deaths were mostly recorded by extra-biblical sources of the those that hated Christians- research Titus Josephus.
This is just scratching the surface to explore the ancient manuscripts and our current Bible. I encourage you whether you are close to God, or far away from Him, to seek out this data for yourself and find the TRUTH that is within the texts. God provides us with enough things in this life to “woo” us to Him; however, he cannot go beyond the relatively obvious, or he would be impeding on our ability to make our own choices through free will to trust in him.
- Reflect on Romans 1:18 – 20. Then continue and pray over those far from God who reject the rest of Romans 1:20 – 38.
- If you are in doubt, know you are loved by a God that loves you, and know that you are welcome to become a brother or sister in Christ no matter your past.
Prayer: God thank you! Thank you for making your presence known among us in everything we see. Please humble me and show me how to share the love you have given to me when I have been everything but deserving. You are the truth, help me to never forget that fact and to learn as much from you and your Word as I can. Amen.
If you have any questions or need guidance please feel free to reach out 🙂