Posted by: everynation | February 17, 2009

In FIVE minutes, explain to me how I can know if the Bible is true!

Simon Bardoneby Simon Bardone

I recently participated in a panel “roast” where a church audience (Christian and non-Christian) fired off questions about war, religion, hell and the Bible for about an hour. It was quite a morning! The roast was broken up into 3 sections according to topic. Each section began with a five-minute answer to a specific question.

As was asked to give the five-minute answer to: “How can we know if the Bible is true?” That’s a BIG question to answer in just five minutes. Imagine if you were asked that question by a non-believer… If you had just five minutes to respond, what would you say? Here’s what I said…

“The Bible is a compilation of 66 books penned by approximately 40 different writers over a period of about 1600 years (1500 BC – 100 AD). The Bible is comprised of poetry, pros, history, prophecy, doctrine, practical wisdom, biography, as well as personal letters written by the original followers of Jesus to other groups of believers.

So when we ask “Is the Bible true?”, we ask not only an extremely important question, but an incredibly massive one as well!

To even begin answering such an entailed question, we need to ask a couple of preliminary questions first:
1. What criteria would we apply to any book in order to determine if it’s trustworthy or “true”?
2. Given the literary scope and diversity fo the Bible, where does one even begin?!

First question… What criteria do scholars apply?

There’s many things to look at here, but you’ll find that experts generally look at three areas when determining the legitimacy of ancient writings. They are:
1. Manuscript reliability
2. Archaeological consistency
3. Eyewitness testimony

Manuscript reliability addresses the issue of the accuracy of our current copy of the Bible. Held up to the same scrutiny that scholars apply to any writing of antiquity (like Plato, Aristophanes, Caesar, Aristotle, Homer’s Iliad, etc.), the Bible far outweighs all others in the area of manuscript reliability.

There are currently approx. 5600 original manuscripts of the New Testament in known existance. Of those, the earliest one dates back to less than 100 years of the original test! All other ancient texts pale in comparison to the Bible when held up to the scrutiny of manuscript reliability.

Archeological consistency of course deals with the actual physical evidence that exists either supporting or contradicting what we find written in a given document. The Bible happens to be packed full of names, dates, locations and events that reportedly took place throughout history. Is archeology consistent with what the Bible says?

There has never been any archeological evidence disproving or contradicting the Bible. On the contrary, archeologists have actually unearthed mountains of evidence verifying and supporting the Bible.

Eyewitness testimony naturally deals with the trustworthiness of the witnesses themselves. That is, assuming we have accurate records and ample archeological evidence, how can we be sure the people who allegedly witnessed the events can be trusted in the first place?

Looking specifically at the eyewitness accounts of Jesus and His words and ministry, all of the men (minus one) who gave eyewitness testimony died a martyr’s death! This fact gives us a huge look into the motivation behind the testimony of these men. It tells us that these men gained nothing from lying or fabricating stories about Jesus. On the contrary, they gave up everything for their commitment to the truth.

Second preliminary question… Where does one even begin?!

Even though penned by approximately 40 different writers (from all different backgrounds, cultures, professions, etc.) over a period of 1600 years, the Bible in amazingly cohesive! As you study it, you’ll find the this book foreshadows, builds up to, centres around, and supports a single central theme and character – that is God’s plan to redeem fallen mankind through His only Son, Jesus, and His work on the cross.

From beginning to end, the story is about Jesus and his mission to save US.

So if you’re genuinely open and interested in finding out for yourself just how true the Bible really is, I suggest you begin by looking at Jesus. The Bible’s about Him. From cover to cover, you’ll find His story. However, instead of just starting in Genesis, I’d pesonally recommend beginning with one of His biographies… Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Remember, the Bible was never intended to simply relay information. The Bible is a ‘living’ document… intended to guide you to a living God. His name is Jesus.”

Simon Bardone is a missionary in London and is the author of Simonslife Online.

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