Defending the Bible as Reliable

(Ted Kilcup) #1

I was just listening to a podcast between a Jew and a Christian. The Christian was an atheist for a long time and then became a Christian. But his theology is maybe lacking and he seems to consider philosophy more important than scripture sometimes and doesn’t consider himself a “literalist” (not sure exactly what he means by that). All this to say, there was a defense of the Torah, religion generally and God, but mostly on broad philosophical grounds such as meaning and morality. While these are tremendously important lines of argument I think, I was bothered by the fact that they aren’t defending scripture by letting it speak. In the conversation Jordan Peterson is mentioned. Peterson is someone who kind of wants Christianity to be true and wants the fundamental premises to be true but can’t bring himself to embrace it as literally true. But I would like to some feedback on why we don’t see more people defending scripture by using the text itself. Some things I have in mind:

-The 70 weeks prophecies in Daniel 9 about the nation of Israel and coming of the Messiah at a very precise point in time which did in fact take place
-The literal fulfillment of a captivity in Babylon as was promised in the Torah
-Isaiah 53 which points to Jesus as the Messiah
-The sacrifices in the Old Testament pointing to the ultimate sacrifice when God provides
-That Jesus was crucified very near Passover, fulfilling the Old Testament feast
-Psalm 110:1 which points to a greater than David given authority by Yahweh
-Jesus’ statement that Jerusalem will be trampled until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, which is remarkably what we see today.
-Daniel’s prediction of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires, before they come into being
-Isaiah’s giving the exact name of Cyrus before he had come into power

This is a very small list in comparison to what could be written and has been written elsewhere. I realize some believers may not agree with the interpretation I’m taking of certain passages. Regardless, I feel like we should be answering skepticism with respect to scripture with the remarkable things that are in it, pointing out as the apostles do in the book of Acts, Jesus is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. There is legitimate skepticism of some of the claims in the Bible, however, so much of the skepticism is completely unwarranted. I have a co-worker who was raised in a Pentecostal church and walked away from the faith, who told me he was skeptical of Jesus existence. I explained that was a bit of an absurd position. But that kind hard skepticism of Scripture is the norm in my workplace. How come things like fulfilled prophecies aren’t used as evidence to suggest to our non-believing friends, “hey maybe you are speaking a little too quickly with respect to the Bible?” When a new atheist type raises issues of scripture as if it’s something to be ashamed of, pointing out it’s curious accuracy or fulfillment’s that are clear from either a believing or non-believing perspective on certain topics might be a good way forward. After all that rambling I basically have two questions:

  1. Why is there so much skepticism of the Bible in our culture even from smart people who seem inclined to take it seriously?
  2. Is pointing to some of the prophecies in the Bible a good way forward with regard to the rampant skepticism?
(Keldon Scott) #2
  1. Because the thief comes to kill steal and destroy. Many have reasons to challenge the tenets of scripture. Probably the most common reason is to justify chosen behavior and choices which would not be supported by scripture.

  2. I think prophecy is one method of support for scripture. And, it is a very good one. I think establishing consensus on when the scriptures were written help set a foundation for discussion. Once established, revealing the truth of the prophecy fulfillment leaves someone with awe. That are may very well bridge the rift of skepticism.

(LaTricia) #3

One of the means used by the person who led me to Christ to help me see the reliability of the Bible was tying historical references to biblical events and rather than saying, “The bible proves itself to be true because here are previous verses that point to the same thing in the NT.” My position at the time wasn’t that Jesus is the Messiah and I had no belief in the bible - Christianity was “just another religion out of many”, and if he had pointed me to verses from the OT that spoke of the coming Messiah, I would have dismissed them as being fabricated or unclear and lumped them in under the heading of ‘Christian Mythology’. But what he did do was use non-biblical facts/points of reference that actually verified biblical. That made a huge difference for me not just before coming to Christ, but also after because I still had doubts on the accuracy and reliability of the bible.

It is one thing to speak to those who are religiously Jewish and who have been waiting for the Messiah, as you pointed out with your reference to Acts and how the Apostles pointed to scripture to prove the point of Jesus being the Messiah. There was already an established platform to work from that provided some common ground. However, when Paul spoke on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-31) and speaking about the “Unknown God”, pointing to scripture to those who had no point of reference for OT scripture would have been futile.

It is very important to recognize who we’re speaking to and if at all possible delve into the basis of a person’s skepticism. Handling the skepticism of an atheist is different from addressing the doubts of a believer or a theist in general because at least with the theist or believer there’s a bit of a head start in that we would already be starting with “there is a God” and moving to other topics from point.

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(SeanO) #4

@TJ_Kilcup The evidence is not the issue - it is the human heart that decides at a fundamental level to either accept or reject God and then we interpret the evidence in light of the decision we have already made. For example, someone who is set in their heart against God will simply say that the Bible was written after the events already occurred and therefore the prophecies do not point to any kind of supernatural intervention (of course Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the Temple is difficult to deny). It is helpful to share the evidence, but people interpret the evidence through the attitudes of their heart. Consider the following from Pascal.

In “Christianity for Modern Pagans” Peter Kreeft examines Pascal’s work. One argument Pascal makes is that God gives exactly enough light for the righteous to find Him and for the wicked to reject Him.

"He gives exactly the right amount of light. If He gave less, even the righteous would be unable to find Him, and their will would be thwarted. If He gave more, even the wicked would find Him, against their will. Thus He respects and fulfills the will of all.

If He gave more light, the righteous would not learn humility, for they would know too much. If He gave less light, the wicked would not be responsible for their wickedness, for they would know too little."

(Ted Kilcup) #5

Thanks for the good thoughts