I have a friend who I am talking with and often we get onto subjects of faith. He is historically a Lutheran, but lately has doubts about the bible as being the true word of God. He often states that “how can I believe that the bible is true when a person wrote it? Who’s to say they are right and people who have written about other faith’s are wrong?” He rejects it by stating that it is circular logic, since it says it is true. I think he looking for an external source to prove it’s authenticity.
Hi, great question, it’s one of my main doubts that i often have.
Well - the bible is not just written by one, but many different authors. It’s not one, but 66 different books. How do we know it’s the word of God?
I would say, first of all: by reading it.
Of course, the divinity of the bible does not depend on our reading it and deciding whether it is God’s word or not. But the simplest way to find out whether the claim that Christianity makes is true is by checking it out for yourself.
I say this because I know many people judging the bible before they have read it - and you have them on both sides! There are people that say the bible is not possibly the word of God - without having read it - and people that say the bible is the word of God, period - without having read it, either.
Thanks for reaching out! I think this is a really important question that each of us will think about at one point or another. I like how you divided the question into two parts because in fact, yes, they are two very different questions.
The first question is: how can I know the bible is true?
The second is rather: how can I know Christianity is true?
For the first question there are many different approaches to take. I will link a video series below I really enjoyed watching that your friends might like to. It goes into this question in depth.
I myself came to believe the bible is true in the following way: I read Isaiah 53 about the very clear prophecy about Jesus and was amazed of how this could possible have been written hundreds of years before Jesus was even born. Then I thought to myself: but some Christians could have added it later, right? Then I found out about the Dead Sea scrolls which are in 95% equal to the text we have in the Old Testament today and which have Isaiah 53 as well. And these scrolls come from before the time of Jesus. So there was no one who could have inserted this part later. So Jesus indeed fulfilled Isaiah (among other prophecies).
So already we know that the Old Testament was preserved. The question is: is it authoritative? You friend said: well, but it’s written by people and is therefore not trustworthy. In the New Testament we have four biographies of Jesus. New research has shown that the four gospels were written in the literary genre of biography. Within these biographies we find that Jesus himself is quoting from the Old Testament and that he says that not a dot will be changed from „the law and the prophets“ (which is referring to the books of the Old Testament). So Jesus himself, who is God himself, is confirming his scripture in preservation, authority and content. Why? Because in the end the scripture is written down by humans, but not constructed by humans.
But the question remains: what about all the other books? Why is Christianity true?
There are quite some religions on the planet, but just a few give reasons why we should believe in them.
Christianity claims it’s true because Jesus lived, died for our sins and rose again on the third day. That’s a statement about history, not just a philosophical statement. Even secular and atheist scholars confirm as a fact that Jesus lived, was baptised and was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
Jesus’s followers got convinced that they saw him after that, not merely clinging to life, but resurrected and in all his glory. And they were so convinced by it that they turned around their whole life and were willing to die for this fact.
This is what the New Testament is largely about.
This is how you can investigate whether Christianity is true.
Now, if Christianity is true, then by default other religions aren’t. Islam claims that Jesus never died in the first place, never claimed to be God and that the Trinity Christians believe in is made out of God, Jesus and Mary. These are contradictory statements. Jesus cannot both have died and not have died.
Judaism is still waiting for the messiah, and Jesus is not the Messiah.
Is this circular reasoning? I wouldn’t say so. What we are basically trying to be is to find the best logical explanation for the evidence we observe in the world, just like detectives would. And I’m convinced that this evidence strongly leads you to accept the Bible as God‘s word and Jesus as your saviour.
This is the video series I was talking about at the beginning. I hope your friend will enjoy it
I love how you reasoned yourself into believing the Word is true! The line from reading Isaiah to the Dead Sea scrolls establishing their age and therefore making it impossible to make up later. (And who says all Christians base their belief on faith alone? )
What I’m currently doing is looking at all different kinds of evidence for how the Word can be proven true. @mcclure.russell it always saddens me that there are so very many people who just will not believe it, and what’s worse, they will not even give it a chance.
Anna, your answer is very thorough and I am looking forward to checking out the video. But, I wanted to share a really cool that I have found extremely fascinating.
There are a vast number of articles and videos. Including their show called Digging for Truth, and they present tons of archeological fact and finds that support the inerrancy of the Bible. It’s worth checking out, especially if you liked the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Grace and Peace to you,
as @madeleineberning has so rightly pointed out the Bible is written over 1500 or so years by 40 or so authors (https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-authors.html), and all points towards one person - Jesus Christ being God in the flesh, who died and rose again - both prophetically in the Old Testament, and by eye-witness accounts in the Gospels and New Testament.
Your friend is correct with their concern about the circular logic of ‘the Bible is true because it says it is so’; but at the same time one doesn’t just throw out the Bible as a historical document - would we throw away historical ancient documents about Caesar?
so what is the answer and way forward?
We need to step back and realise that all worldviews need to answer the ‘what is truth’ question; all cannot be true at the same time as religions "are at best superficially similar and fundamentally different "(as Ravi mentioned many times in his messages) Here is a couple of hopefully helpful videos which might be of use to share with your friend as ask what they think of them?
and another one of interest from William Lane Craig
I think the most important question for me is ‘did Jesus rise from the dead?’; because as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
The Risen Christ, Our Hope
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have [a]fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
William Lane Craig authored a good book which I really enjoyed on the historical evidence for the Resurrection.
the 4 worldview questions everyone must answer are here; which might lead to some good conversations with your friend.
hopefully a few helpful thoughts - may you show Christs love with your friend… oh; has your friend seen the BibleProject resources? well worth getting into if they are wanting to read it but need some help with context (who wrote a book, to whom, and in what era). Hopefully some others add to the conversation - by the way, a very warm welcome to the forum!
Hi there and welcome to connect I found this book very useful: The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives Hardcover
It wasn’t full of jargon, bloatware just straight to the point.