Monday, January 26, 2015

Why we can trust in the Bible


The Great Isaiah Scroll, 1QIsa
Recently there are articles that try to discredit Christianity by claiming the Bible is unreliable, that it changed over time, or that it contains only mythical stories. This is not consistent with sound Biblical historical research.

The Bible was written by about forty people over the course of fifteen hundred years who were inspired by God. It begins with books written by Moses fourteen hundred years before Christ. The New Testament Gospels were written by people who personally knew Jesus and were witnesses to His ministry.  All the books collected together are a history of God's revelation to His people. They all form a cohesive story.

The Bible is most reliable document in all of antiquity. We have much greater evidence of its reliability than any of the ancient Greek documents. Take Aristotle. He was writing in the 4th century BC. The earliest copies we have of his work are from 1000 years later. The New Testament scriptures were written in the first century AD, while there were living eye witnesses, and there exist manuscripts from one to two hundred years after they were written. Most other ancient documents that we assume valid, the copies we have were not only dated many more years after they were written, but there are only a few copies. The New Testament we have thousands of manuscripts. As for the Old Testament there was a discovery in 1948 of ancient documents called the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are over 2000 years old and were untouched from that time being buried in a cave. Among them is a scroll of the book of Isaiah that was found to be exactly the same as the one we have today. The historical evidence is overwhelming in favor of the reliability of these documents.

In addition, Archeologist have been hard at work in the last two hundred years and they are continually discovering new archeological confirmation of the history documented in the Bible. Some historians thought the kingdom of David was a legend. But recently they have discovered a reference to the house of David engraved on a 3000 year old stone column in the Middle East. Another example is the people called Hittites who are mentioned in the Bible more than fifty times. Until the 19th century there was no historical or archeological evidence that these people existed. In 1876 in Turkey archeologist discovered a number of artifacts that included a storeroom with ten thousand clay tablets. It turns out this site must have been the capital of the Hittite Empire. Today there is no longer any question about the reality of their existence by Biblical scholars.

The idea that the Bible has been changed over time or has recorded only mythical stories is totally false.  Even though there are some things that we still do not have historical evidence, we can see from the progressive unveiling of archeological evidence that this does not mean they did not take place historically. Of all ancient documents, the Bible is the most reliable we know.  It has been carefully reproduced in a way to avoid any significant change.

We cannot let doubters discourage us. What is central to our Christian faith is our belief in Jesus who was sent to renew mankind, to free us from our sinful condition separated from God.  He came not as a super human being, but as person both God and fully human. He took on flesh from a virgin. He showed us the way by His teaching, His miracles, and finally His voluntary death by Crucifixion at the hand of the Romans followed three days latter by his Resurrection. Then forty days after this He ascended in to heaven after instructing His disciples and within ten days sent to them the Holy Spirit which transformed them allowing them, against constant threat of death, to teach the good news about His Resurrection, His victory over death, and establish churches where the sacramental life could be practiced by all peoples for their salvation. We may not want to believe in the story of Noah and the great flood, although there is historical evidence of a world wide flood eight or ten thousand years ago, We should not let this distract us from the central truth of our faith, which is Jesus Christ. Our faith is not dependent to Noah building an ark but it does depend on the divinity of Jesus and His Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension to heaven and sending the Holy Spirit establishing His Church. For this the record of how it happened is well documented.

Reference: The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? by F. F. Bruce

6 comments:

  1. What was 1st wrote they wouldn't published

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  2. They are so scared.and think they can sensor us true believers.those who worship CHRIST JESUS

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  3. Avery, I removed the comment because it was not in the spirit of a civil dialogue. Also it was posted Anonymously. If you would like to enter into a discussion on this article I would be more than willing to do so. Simply state what it is you object to, why, and how you substantiate your position. Then we can begin a sincere dialogue. I can assure you that believers of Jesus Christ are not scared but try to be respectful while sharing their beliefs. Jesus was a historical person and the Bible accurately documents His teaching, His unjust death, and His resurrection. It has also been supported by other historical documents close to the time of His life that were written by Roman and Jewish historians who you would not expect to be biased toward a Christian view, please share your position so we can discuss.

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  4. It is not the bible's reliability, but it's believability that's the question! The ancient near and Middle East as a practice back to ancient Sumer mixed myth with history. The bible is a genuine artifact but so is Homer's Iliad but I don't have to believe in Zeus to get anything out of it.

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  5. The next post should address this question. Stay tuned. There are other historical documents and archeological evidence as well as the nature of the way it's written. It's written as an eyewitness account which is quite different in style from the mythical stories. There are also the disciples who were willing to give their lives based on what they witnessed and experienced. Not likely they would have voluntarily risked their lives for a made up story. More to come.

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  6. You don't need a PhD to know the Bible is false.

    Instead of reading scholarly responses to (Bart) Ehrman as recommended, he (Gary) renounced faith. ...The pastors at Gary's former church were concerned as he sparred with capable disciples of Ehrman that he had not yet come to an understanding of Lutheranism. His formation as a Lutheran required time and inculturation. So, yes, in this sense I failed to form him as a disciple of Jesus and for that I am sorry. ---my former orthodox Lutheran pastor

    My former pastor is not alone in his assessment that my lack of knowledge is the source of my problem. Many a Lutheran pastor and layperson has accused me of not fully understanding Lutheran doctrine and teachings as the cause of my loss of faith and deconversion from Christianity. What's fascinating is that many an evangelical pastor and layperson has accused me of not understanding "true Christian" (evangelical) doctrine and teaching as the cause of my deconversion. Both groups have given me long lists of apologists (from their respective denominational flavor of Christianity only, of course) to educate me in the truths of Holy Scripture (as they read and understand it).

    But here's the thing: I don't need to understand the nuances of the Doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration, the Real Presence, Predestination, or Justification by Faith Alone, to know that the Bible is a book of nonsense. All I need is a high school education and a functioning brain.

    Here are the cornerstone beliefs of orthodox Christianity:

    1. The first human was created by an ancient middle-eastern god blowing air into a pile of dirt.

    2. Death, disease, and all the pain and suffering in the world are the result of the first humans eating an ancient middle-eastern god's fruit.

    3. This same ancient middle eastern god soon had pity on humans for inflicting horrific suffering and death upon them for eating his fruit, so he decided to send himself to earth, in the form of a human being, to sacrifice himself, to appease the righteous anger of...himself.

    4. This ancient middle-eastern god sent himself to earth in the form of a human being by having his ghost impregnate a young Jewish virgin, giving birth to...himself....as a divine god/man.

    5. This divine god/man grew up to then preach the news of eternal redemption and forgiveness for ancestral forbidden-fruit-eating; "good news" meant for all the people of earth...by going to one desolate, sparsely populated, backwater corner of the globe where he taught in riddles that not even his closest followers could understand.

    6. Even upon his death his closest followers had no clue what he was talking about. This god/man left no written instructions regarding what he required of mankind, only his confusing, often contradictory oral riddles. However, he allegedly left the job of written instructions to four anonymous writers, three of whom plagiarized the first, and, one bipolar, vision-prone, Jewish rabbi, who concocted contradictory wild tales of resurrections and ascensions into outer space.

    Dear friend: You do NOT need to read the books of Christian apologists, theologians, and pastors to determine if these assertions of ancient, middle-eastern facts are true. No. All you have to do is use your brain: These kinds of things do not happen in real life. They only happen in fairy tales and ancient myths. It is all superstitious nonsense.

    NO ONE in the 21st century with a high school education should believe these ancient tall tales.

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