Why I Am a Christian, Part 4b: Because of the Bible

Previous posts in this series:

Part 1: Because of Experience

Part 2: Because of Jesus

Part 3a: Because of the Resurrection

Part 3b: Because of the Resurrection

Part 3c: Because of the Resurrection

Part 4a: Because of the Bible

In the previous post on the Bible I set forth the primary reasons why I believe its claim to be the authoritative Word of God is a claim that warrants my belief.  Now I will address secondary reasons.  These secondary reasons are confirming evidences of the Bible’s divine origin.

(1) The unity of the Bible.  It is utterly remarkable that a collection of dozens of books, spanning thousands of years in composition, written by about forty or so authors from diverse backgrounds, in three different languages, addressing controversial matters of ultimate meaning, could have produced such a harmonious work.  I am not saying that the various biblical books speak with one voice on every issue.  There is a distinct theology of Paul, just as there is of Isaiah, of Moses, and of Luke.  Each author makes his own contribution in terms of style, content, and theology.  But when they are put together into a canon, these books cohere as one large narrative that begins with creation and ends with new creation, finding its center in the person of Jesus Christ.  The foreshadowings of the New Testament in the Old, and the echoes of the Old in the New, the multiciplicity of shadows and types that point forward to Christ, and the multiplicity of ways that Christ fulfills those shadows and types, all point to a single divine mind behind this book.  The Quran and other holy books come nowhere near the majesty of this harmonic unity.

(2) Predictive prophecy. Events foretold in the Bible have been fulfilled as they were foretold.  I think of the last two chapters of Daniel in particular, with its meticulously detailed prophecy of the wars between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies that post-dated the time of Daniel by several hundred years.  Of course, a number of scholars argue that the book of Daniel was actually written after these events, but one can’t help but think that a bit of viciously circular reasoning has gone into that conclusion.  If one rules out the possibility that the future can be foretold a priori, then of course one will have to conclude that whatever appears to be a genuine predictive prophecy would have had to have been delivered after the events it foretold.  The same is true for Isaiah 45:1, which mentions Cyrus by name as the future deliverer of Israel.  Cyrus was a Persian king who lived well over a century after the time of Isaiah, and just as Isaiah foretold, he delivered Israel from exile.  Other examples could be multiplied, particularly in regard to prophecies made about Jesus Christ.  The fact that a book that claims to come from God indicates an ability to predict the future with accuracy confirms its claim by showing that a divine mind that transcends time must stand behind it. 

(3) Historical evidence.  Most holy books have little connection to history, for most are not really about history but about what you might call “religious philosophy.”  Even the Book of Mormon, which does profess to relate history, is hopelessly disconnected from reality.  It is a fairy tale about a civilization in North America for which there is no shred of evidence, translated from mysterious golden plates that no one can access anymore, and occasionally showing traces of historical anachronism.  The Bible is in a completely different league.  There is no doubt that it is a genuine book from antiquity; we have thousands of manuscripts that date back through time, in a variety of languages.  It speaks of figures and civilizations that have been confirmed by the evidence of history.  The ruins of Jericho are available for anyone to go and see today, for example.  And on those historical questions where the Bible’s validity has not been confirmed by archaeology, I would say just give it time.  Historians used to believe that the Bible was simply wrong about the Hittites; they used to believe that the Hittites never existed.  Further archaeological evidence confirms that they did exist.  The same happened in recent decades with King Belteshazzar of the book of Daniel.  It was widely doubted that he ever existed until an inscription was discovered bearing his name.  We are dealing with a book that is rooted in history and that has been confirmed, time and time again, by the historical record. 

(4) The shocking honesty of the Bible.  If I were going to make up a religion, I certainly wouldn’t make up Christianity.  Why would anyone, out of their own imaginations, conjure up a religion that says we are all desperately wicked sinners who are destined for Hell unless we find hope in a redeemer?  Who would have made up something so complex and mysterious as the Trinity, the Incarnation, or substitutionary atonement?  Who would come up with a gospel that is at once a message of free grace and yet is at the same time the most costly thing imaginable, both to God and to us?  Who would have written a book that paints all of the great heroes of the faith with their warts in full view: Abraham, David, Moses, Paul, Peter?  Man-made religions have a tendency to romanticize and to reduce the demands made upon us by the deity.  Christianity does the opposite: it is penetratingly real, honest, utterly demanding, and even a bit complicated, all because it is built on a book that bears these characteristics.  The Bible does not bear the marks of mere human imagination. 

I do not bring these points up because I think I can, by the use of reason alone, certify the Bible’s authority.  I have already argued that the Bible’s authority is intrinsic and self-attesting; there simply cannot be any higher court of appeal.  Nevertheless, what we find when we appeal to reason and to experience is that the Bible’s divine origin is confirmed and that it clearly stands in a category by itself, thereby further strengthening our warrant to believe it is the holy Word of God.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: