Apologetics - Is the Bible True?
And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify (I.e. set apart) Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense (Or argument; Or explanation) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:14b,15 - NASB - Ref. NASBRE)
Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. (Proverbs 30:5 - ESV)
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. (Psalm 33:4 - NIV)
How do you know that the Bible is true?
There is much evidence that confirms the Bible is reliable.
History and archeology confirm the biblical record. Over 25,000 archeological sites have now been discovered that pertain to the Bible. As Nelson Glueck, renowned Jewish archaeologist said, "It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference." Even though archeology does not prove spiritual truth, archeological confirmation is an amazing testimony to the accuracy of the Bible.
Biblical prophecy and its accuracy is another fascinating and unique aspect of Christianity. There are over 2,000 accurately fulfilled predictions in the Bible including some 300 specific details and implications about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. For example, Isaiah 53 beautifully describes the life of Christ 700 years before it took place! Even the town of Jesus' birth was foretold in the Old Testament (Micah 5:2). And there are NO prophetic failures.
The Bible contains page after page of history written in advance. The skeptic must come to grips with this evidence.
Eyewitnesses - Concerning the New Testament, it is helpful to appreciate that all of the New Testament writers were of the generation of Jesus. Each writer was either an eyewitness to Jesus or was an interviewer of eyewitnesses. Three of the writers were Jesus' disciples; Matthew, John, and Peter.
Manuscript evidence is another key fact. Recognizing that there are no known original manuscripts in existence for the Bible or for any other ancient writing, let's examine the Bible. For the New Testament, there are over 24,000 handwritten copies or portions thereof from antiquity now extant. This is far more than other ancient books. For example, the second most available ancient manuscripts are from Homer's Iliad, for which there are 643 manuscript copies, while most ancient documents have fewer than 25 existing copies.
Important is the time interval between the actual events, the date of writing, and the earliest known manuscript copy. For the Bible, manuscript copies or portions thereof exist that were written within 35 to 160 years after the originals. Recent dating of one manuscript of a portion of the Gospel of Matthew (the so-called Magdalen text), suggests that it was written in about A.D. 50, a mere 17 years after the crucifixion of Christ. If these findings hold up, it means that the Gospel of Mark, which predates the Matthew Gospel, was written as early as A.D. 40, only seven years or so after the crucifixion.
The interval between the historical events and the written evidence is far better for the New Testament than any other ancient manuscript. For example, the first account of Buddha's life was written 700 years after his death. The earliest copy of Caesar's works is 950 years after being written, and the earliest available copy of Plato's works is dated 1250 years after the original. Yet we do not question the authority of these other works!
Even more impressive is the degree of textual variance in existing copies. Considering the enormous number of ancient New Testament manuscripts, there are only nominal differences in the various copies. The data for the New Testament is impressive. Only 40 lines, or one fifth of one per cent are in question, and none of these variants effect Christian doctrine. This compares to large textual variances in other ancient writings. For example, the New Testament is 25 times more accurately copied than the Iliad, which was also "sacred" and is considered one of the best copied works of antiquity.
The large number of preserved copies without disagreements in content increases the chances that the Bible we have has preserved the original texts unmarred by heretical additions. The books of the New Testament were widely circulated among the earliest Christians, and could not have been corrupted without a great outcry on the part of orthodox Christians.
Externally verified - Further support for the Bible comes from the fact that events of the New Testament are supported by writings outside the Bible. Corroboration is available from several secular and Jewish historians of antiquity. (Examples: Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Epictetus, Lucian, Aristides, Josephus, etc.)
For example: In The Antiquities of the Jews, book 18, chapter 3, paragraph 3 the famous historian Flavius Josephus writes:
“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
In 115 AD, P. Cornelius Tacitus wrote the following passage that refers to Jesus (called “Christus,” which means “The Messiah”) in book 15, chapter 44 of The Annals:
“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”
Another interesting thing is the thousands of quotations found in writings of the early Church Fathers (A.D. 100-450). Even if all the New Testament manuscripts disappeared, it would still be possible to reconstruct almost the entire New Testament with quotes from the Church Fathers.
Thus, in his book, The Bible and Archaeology, Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, former director and principal librarian of the British Museum, stated about the New Testament: "The interval, then, between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact, negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established."
Internally consistent - In addition to its being externally verified, significant further evidence of its reliability is the internally consistent nature of the Bible. It is truly an amazingly consistent document. The messages of approximately 40 different writers of the 66 books of the Bible, written over a period of 1,500 years, in three different languages, all fit together like the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. There is one continual theme throughout, God's plan of salvation from sin won for the whole world by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This consistency itself attests to the miracle of this book.
But aren't there a lot of contradictions in the Bible? This is a common claim. Scholars have been looking for such contradictions for hundreds of years, but a careful examination of such charges can virtually eliminate them as valid. Many such claims are simply a failure to understand the laws of logic or failure to read the various books of the Bible in line with the genre in which they were written. For example, when one witness says that he saw an angel at the tomb, and another witness says he saw two angels at the tomb, these statements do not violate any law of logic and are not contradictory. If there were two angels present, there was one angel present. One witness only saw one angel at the time he was there. If the witness had said that there was ONLY one angel at the tomb, we would have a contradiction verses the other witness. But that is not what the text says. Here is a website that is dedicated to answering all such claims of contradictions: Bible Query.
Stands the test of time - Its mere endurance speaks for itself. For thousands of years people have explored every nook and cranny of the Bible. Alleged difficulties have been systematically answered. Upon examination, there are NO errors or contradictions in the Bible.
Moreover, part of the testimony of the Bible's power and truth is the evidence of changed history and changed human lives. We might add that people come to believe the Bible freely without compulsion. Compare this to the religion of Islam, which has been spread by the force of the sword and political might.
The Bible has answers for today's problems. The relevance of biblical truths becomes evident to those who study it. People become convicted and changed.
The more one studies without bias the teachings found in the Bible, the more he or she will see that they conform to the truths of experience and human nature. It is just as powerful to the lives of people today as to those thousands of years ago.
The Bible has proven to be trustworthy, powerful, and significant.
If you want to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see the next apologetics topic..
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God views your relationship with Him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in Him, Jesus Christ said of us, "I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:27-30).
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Apologetics - More Topics/Questions
Christian apologetics - (Greek: ἀπολογία, "verbal defence, speech in defence") is a field of Christian theology which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and attempt to expose the flaws of other world views.
More topics associated with Christian Apologetics:
- † Does God exist?
- † Is the Bible God's inspired Word?
- † Is Jesus the 'Son' of God?
- † Is Christianity a unique faith?
For a more scientific/technical approach go HERE.
Apologetics - Defending Your Faith - More Coming Soon!
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