Examining Objections About The Bible:
Rules of Engagement
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
In the course of talking to non-Christians, I run across many objections and misunderstandings toward Christianity and toward the Bible specifically. I, myself, had many of these same objections and misunderstandings many years ago, so I can empathize, but Iíve also found answers to the objections I had. This week on KLMX, Iíd like to examine some of the arguments against the Bible. Now, donít get me wrong here- Iím not trying to prove anything and I certainly canít make you believe. What I want to do is show you why I believe what I believe today and why my attitude has changed. Maybe youíll come along for the ride and maybe you wonít- Iíll have to leave that up to God. And speaking of God, may He bless this message, may it glorify Him, and may the truth that is Jesus Christ shine into a dark land and dark hearts. Amen.
I commonly hear things like this: "The Bible is just another book. It was written by normal men who were just trying to explain the things they saw around them." Some critics even go so far as to claim that the versions we have today have been deliberately altered by the scribes who made hand-written copies of the original manuscripts. Critics will frequently point to various English translations, such as the King James Version vs the NIV vs. the New American Standard, emphasize the differences between them and use this in their arguments to show that the Bible canít possibly be true. "After all", theyíll say, "WHICH Bible is true?"
These are all good logical arguments which deserve a good logical answer. However, in the end, neither side can really prove anything. Both sides can point and counterpoint until Kingdom come. All we can do in the meantime is lay out the various evidences, weigh them, and then make a decision. Or, as Iíd say being the Bible believer that I am, let God work on hearts. Letís take a look at why I think the Bible is exactly what it says it is- the living word of the living God.
Before we look at the Bible, letís take a side-trip to set some rules of engagement. "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" was allegedly written by Benjamin Franklin himself. How can I prove this to be true, to my satisfaction? The copy down at the library says "Benjamin Franklin" on the spine, but is that enough proof for me? For some, it may be- the book says it was written by "Benjamin Franklin", I believe it, and thatís good enough. But others may be more skeptical; how do we go about demonstrating to them that Ben Franklin wrote his autobiography? One way might be to find some notes or rough drafts in his handwriting that contain phrases or passages which eventually appeared in the book. If we could find Franklin saying similar things in letters as he said in the book, we might then believe that he was capable of writing the book. A piece of evidence against Franklin authorship might be if we could find copies of "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" existing before Franklinís birth. Obviously, if we could find a copy of "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" existing before the American pioneer Benjamin Franklin, then we would probably consider that weíre talking about different Ben Franklins. Evidence in favor of Franklin authorship would be if we found information in the autobiography that seemed to point to critical and perhaps previously unknown facts regarding the development of some of his inventions. For instance, suppose the autobiography stated that Ben first tested his lightning kite in his backyard and then suppose we found some evidence- say in the writings of a neighbor- which backed that up. And finally, we have the testimony of people associated with Ben Franklin. If Thomas Jefferson wrote to a mutual friend "Ben would like to be with us, but heís busy writing his autobiography", then weíd probably place that in the stack of evidence which supports that Ben Franklin actually did write an autobiography.
Probably no single one of these evidences would be enough, but all of them together would probably convince most people that Ben Franklin did indeed write his autobiography. Of course, there will always be people who refuse to believe even when all the rational evidence points the other direction. You could lump Bigfoot into that category, the third shooter on the grassy knoll, and so on. Many people would toss belief in the Bible into that category! But, I think thereís plenty of evidence for the Bible.
Letís take a quick look at the history of the Bible. First, the word "Bible" means "books" and thatís exactly what the Bible is- a collection of books. Itís a single book today only because the various books have been collected together into one. Genesis, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, Ruth, Exodus, and all the rest of the Old Testament chapters are actually individual books. Authorship is often disputed or debated, but there is little question that many different authors have contributed to the collection of books. In the New Testament, the gospels are written accounts of Jesusí ministry. There are several letters or epistles and again authorship of all of these is often debated, but again, thereís not much question that different authors were involved. That is, we are 100% sure that neither Moses nor Paul nor Matthew nor Luke wrote the entire Bible. Weíre also equally sure that the Old Testament existed well before the New Testament.
So, what do some of the individual books in the Bible say about themselves? The first verse of the first book, Genesis, has this to say:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Right from the beginning of the Bible, God is involved and He is furthermore credited with creating everything that exists, from the universe to the earth to man himself. Itís not long before we find this statement:
Genesis 2:4 This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
Whatís significant about this is that we now have some qualifications added to "God". Heís called "Öthe LORD GodÖ" Weíll find another qualification in:
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.
Here God himself allegedly says to Abram, "I am Almighty GodÖ" So far these are indeed men writing about God, but in Isaiah and Jeremiahís books we find this statement fairly often:
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'
If Isaiah and Jeremiahís book are to be believed, we have a direct statement from God Almighty Himself in that "thus says the LORD." And really, weíll find that statement or a similar in nearly every book of the Bible.
Habakkuk 2:2 Then the LORD answered me and said: "Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.
Haggai 1:2 "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built." ' "
Malachi 1:2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved;
Moving on to the New Testament, we find those authors testifying to the reliability of the Scriptures. According to the writers of the gospels, Jesus quoted frequently from the Old Testament and stood upon its reliability:
Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. THIS WAS THE LORD'S DOING, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES' ?
Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Paul tells the young pastor Timothy:
2 Timothy 3:15-17 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
And Peter both compares Paulís writings to and references the Scriptures in:
2 Peter 3:16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
There are just a few of the many, many passages in which the Bible claims to be the word of God. A skeptic will answer right now and say "Well, so what? Just because it claims to be something or just because someone claims to be writing for God doesnít make it so." That is, of course, a valid objection. Referring back to the example I used with the "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin", just because it says "Ben Franklin" on the spine of the book doesnít automatically make it true. What other evidence do we have to support the Bible?
In the case of Ben Franklin, we looked for some evidence that he might be the writer- did any parts of the "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" exist before Franklinís time? Applying this to the Bible, do we have any texts existing prior to the Bible in which a deity claims to have created the world? As far as I know, we do not. Thus, the Bibleís claim that "In the beginning, GodÖ" remains unchallenged.
Do others testify of the accuracy of the Bible? Well, yes, they do. The entire Jewish nation is based on the historicity of Abraham and Moses. Jewish culture, traditions, and writings take the first 5 books of our Bible as fact. The early church fathers- Origen, Clement, Irenaeus, Augustine, Justin Martyr, and so many others, some of which had direct contact with the apostles, testify to the accuracy of the New Testament. If every existing copy of the New Testament were destroyed, we can find enough of it quoted in the writings of the church fathers to completely restore it. And by testifying to the New Testament, they by default testify to the accuracy of the Old Testament, since so much of it is quoted in the new.
And besides all of this, the Bible itself testifies to its accuracy through the number of fulfilled prophecies. Among other things, the appearance and manner of Jesus is predicted, historical event after historical even is accurately predicted, and so on. In fact, this aspect of the Bibleís accuracy is important enough that, rather than rushing through it today, I think weíll just come back to it tomorrow. So, join us again tomorrow at 9:45 am here on KLMX radio and weíll look at some of the fulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament. In addition, weíll look at how tightly the Old and New Testaments mesh. If ordinary men wrote these books in ordinary ways, they did an utterly amazing and completely unmatched thing. If ordinary men wrote these books, they did so in such a way that theyíre worthy of praise themselves! But, I donít think so. I think the Bible is exactly what it says- the living word of the living God.
Iím Bryan Kimsey from First Baptist Church Des Moines and youíve been listening to the Ministerial Alliance program on KLMX radio.
Forward to Part 2