Home > Apologetics > Objective Proof #1 for Christianity: The Bible

Objective Proof #1 for Christianity: The Bible

Wait, what? Isn’t proving Christianity to be true by using the Bible completely circular? Not exactly. I’m only trying to show that more than any other religious book (or even secular book of antiquity), we have something special with regard to accuracy, reliability, and inspiration that cannot be adequately explained away.

Proving God exists can be done by other means. Proving the Bible is true necessarily validates Christianity to be true, as well…and for the purposes of knowing the whole truth that will lead to salvation, it’s necessary to take this extra step.

Let’s examine some aspects of the Bible that lend credibility to its divine nature. I cannot possibly delve into every topic in great detail and will even have to skip some, which may come in a later post.

Authorship

Unlike other “holy” books that were typically written by one man based on supposed visions and enlightenment, the Bible is a collection of books/writings from 40 authors over almost 2,000 years.

A court of law or even common sense will tell you that multiple people agreeing on the truth of certain statements is more reliable than one person asserting something. Agreeing over a huge span of time? Well, there’s not much precedent for that, but I’d imagine it’s something to be impressed about.

Now, let’s put on our cynical caps for a minute here. Imagine you were a creative man with a knack for words and eloquent, high-sounding rhetoric. You also happen to like worldly things like wealth, power, and women. Would you try to write stories and teachings that fall exactly in line with Christian teaching and become author #41? Or would you perhaps try to establish a new religion of your own, becoming very influential, looked up to by followers, and enjoying the company of multiple women?

If you’re thinking that Jesus was essentially one of these people that established a new religion for gain, I’d beg to differ. Comparisons between Jesus and others (like Muhammad and Joseph Smith) fall woefully short. First of all, Jesus claimed to actually be God. He performed many miracles, including his own bodily resurrection as a way to prove this. Second, Jesus never opportunistically said that God’s word (at that time, essentially the Old Testament) had errors in it and that he came to correct it. He came to bring a new spiritual era, true, but only because he was God who can determine these things. Not only that, but he fell in line with dozens of Old Testament prophecies perfectly, but we’ll get to that later. So he clearly wasn’t contradictory at all. Finally, Jesus’ ministry lasted a mere three years. During that time, did he get to enjoy earthly benefits galore? No, not at all. In fact, he knew he was headed to his doom, but he had a mission to fulfill. He traveled tirelessly, faced persecution, lived a celibate life, and served wherever he went. He mingled with the poor and rejects of society, he helped those in need, and even showed us humility by washing his own followers’ feet. He then suffered excruciating physical pain, but more importantly, the intense torture of spiritual separation from God the Father on the cross.

Jesus, if he were a false teacher, had nothing of worldly value to gain. Another significant point to bring up is that Jesus did not author these books himself (at least in the practical sense). Instead, he lived a life worthy to be written about and worshiped. To me, actions speak louder than words, and that’s all those other books are…words of flawed and suspicious men.

Historical Accuracy and Archeology

If the Bible had historical errors in it, or things we can confirm as categorically false, it would admittedly cast a shadow over the entire book. What we have in reality is the opposite. Isn’t it fortunate (although not at all coincidental if you believe that God knows what he’s doing) that in the last 100 years, we have found more to confirm the history of the Bible than ever before? As the skepticism and self-“enlightenment” of people in the modern age casts the Bible in a dubious light, we are given enough to battle back and stand firm.

In the words of Pastor Lon Solomon, “the more they dig out of the ground, the more the Bible proves to be right.” If you want to hear a quick 30-minute sermon that covers a lot of the confirmations of the Bible’s claims, please listen to this: http://mcleanbible.org/media_player.asp?messageID=40403. In addition to seminary degrees and such, Lon Solomon also completed his masters in Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University, so this is kind of an area of expertise for him.

Every time skeptics have pointed out some supposed inaccuracy in the Bible, later evidence has validated the Bible’s claims, not those of the scholars. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to “wait and see” before the Bible proves to be right (in one case—a somewhat minor historical detail—it took about 1,800 years!).

Some skeptics in the past have brought up these objections to the Bible’s historical accuracy:

“King David never existed! He was never even mentioned once outside of the Bible.” Well, I’m no expert in ancient history, but isn’t there a LOT of stuff that’s missing from the past? Does that mean that only the things we find could have been real? Either way, this is moot because archaeologists did eventually find clear evidence of a King David. Somehow, I have a feeling skeptics will find something else to complain about rather than giving any credit to the Bible…

“How could Moses have written the Bible? There wasn’t even written language during those times (around 1600 BC?) in the Near East, only hieroglyphics!” There is now evidence showing that written language was in existence, even as far back as 3000 BC. Tons of clay tablets and such have since been unearthed, even regarding very mundane details and transactions. Surely, of all people, Moses would have been able to write having been raised in a royal home. (I actually saw this old objection posted recently on some Yahoo! answers page, so unfortunately, some falsehoods never die. Skeptics seem to recycle old, dead arguments over and over after a while.)

“We don’t even know if Jesus ever existed as a real man, let alone as God. We can’t take the Bible as historically reliable, and secular sources haven’t corroborated Jesus’ existence.” This claim, to me, seems the most far-fetched and ridiculous of the lot. Jesus has got to be one of the most confirmed people of ancient history ever, especially considering the 2000 years that have passed (and it took almost that long for this objection to even be raised without being seen as completely stupid). We have tons of secular historians who have mentioned Jesus’ existence, such as Josephus, and archaeologists have even found the ossuary of James, on which it is written: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” I mean, how much more do we need to spell it out for you? This is also why I don’t even bother addressing the Christ-mythers out there, who talk about Horus, etc. Talk about people hungry for conspiracy theories.

The list could go on and on and on, but at some point, you have to give credit where it’s due. If you’re the overly suspicious type and you constantly try to catch your spouse in the act of cheating…only to come home early to her folding your laundry and lovingly preparing your food, you’re going to feel like a jerk for suspecting anything. Do that 100 times over, and eventually you have to stop questioning her loyalty and truthfulness.

Prophecy

OK, so what? The Bible could have taken real history and fit it in to make it seem more true. (I still find it impressive that even when we analyze some small detail, it checks out…even if it’s a detail the author might not have had knowledge of or access to otherwise.)

But how does that prove the Bible’s theological or supernatural claims are true? Well, some of that does take some faith, but it’s a myth to say that there is no proof whatsoever that the Bible is supernaturally inspired.

Prophecies in the Bible abound, and other than far-fetched conspiracy theorizing, there’s no way to explain them away. “I am God and there is no other. I declare from ancient times things that have not happened yet.” –Isaiah 46:10.

A few examples are as follows:

– Isaiah 13 talks very specifically about the fall of Babylon 200 years before it happens.

– The Book of Daniel (for example, chapter 2 or chapter 11) talks about 500 years of the history of the ancient Near East before it happened. Critics tried to say that the book was a forgery and these details were written in after the fact, but we now know that isn’t true thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

– Although many prophecies in the Old Testament were about Jesus, 30 of the most specific ones all came true (one person claims that the chance of a man matching up to these 30 prophecies by accident rather than divine inspiration would be one in 10 with 100 zeroes after it). As a great example, read Isaiah 53 and try to deny that it’s talking about Jesus, who would come centuries later. Chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel actually predicts the exact year of the messiah’s death…and guess who died that year? That’s right, Jesus. Hundreds of years after Daniel foretold it.

Again, critics might cast doubt onto the New Testament, but its books are the closest to the described events that we have ever found in ancient literature, being circulated around during the lifetimes of the people who witnessed the events firsthand. Even the most skeptic historians date the books of the New Testament to mere decades after the events (the next-best works of antiquity, such as Homer, are centuries after). But of course, it’s never enough for some people.

Conclusion

In a way, it’s understandable why the Bible is often faced with such heavy scrutiny. After all, it claims to be divine in nature and inspiration. Is it so surprising, then, that the Bible proves itself vastly more worthy than any other book of its kind (or time period)? It’s no wonder why so many world religions try to piggyback on this undeniably great book.

There comes a point when people can’t keep chalking things up to conspiracies or coincidence. When the obvious truth is so plain to see and we still refuse to see it, that’s clear evidence of our unwillingness to be open to the facts.

But what about all the inconsistencies in the Bible? Doesn’t that undermine its credibility? Well, first of all, on every theological point, there have been solutions offered. Some are easy and downright silly to keep bringing up (which skeptics will do anyway), and some are a bit more difficult, but they have all been addressed. Even when there is something historical or archaeological we can’t reconcile with what we know, we can trust that scholars and historians will catch up eventually. They have many times in the past, and it will probably happen again in the future. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but God has given us enough to work with here so that it doesn’t need to be some giant leap of faith, only a reasonable one. The more you know, the smaller that leap has to be, and not the other way around.

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  1. Allie
    June 14, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Hmm … hopefully you won’t mind my honesty, if you do, I don’t mean this negatively at all- I think this post was a good endeavor and had good aims but … sources … I wish there were specific sources (and what they specifically say about the biblical Jesus) and more references/analysis to prophecy being filled. Which historians/records of Biblical times bolstered Jesus’ existence? I’m somewhat familiar with Josephus- anyone else? How can we trust those documents? How do we know they are credible? Are there more prophetic claims that Jesus filled? (I’m not well-versed in that area … I don’t know…) What are the inconsistencies in the Bible (which I agree there are inconsistencies)? And, why is it silly to keep bringing them up (I don’t understand this point … I figure it would build understanding and encourage one to find truth, imo)?

    Again, I hope you don’t mind. I appreciate what you do on here, but I am truly a skeptic at heart. “There comes a point when people can’t keep chalking things up to conspiracies or coincidence. When the obvious truth is so plain to see and we still refuse to see it, that’s clear evidence of our unwillingness to be open to the facts.” I can see where you are coming from with this statement, but perhaps, perhaps it isn’t as clear cut as you think.

    One thing I’ve mentioned in my blog (and hope to get back to when I remember …) is the differences in cognitive styles and how people perceive the world, how they gain knowledge, process information, and how so many of us vary in doing so. For some, all of this may seem to blatantly point to Jesus being who he said he was and the Judeo-Christian God being utterly supported and for others, they need more substance- they need more argument ,they need- more time to ‘wrestle with God’ as Jacob did that one evening in his tent. A friend reminded me of that story a while back, how being a skeptic is indeed like wrestling with God and truly delving into the issues you have with his existence- with what ‘truth’ is. Food for thought I guess …

  2. June 14, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Hello Allie,

    Of course I don’t mind your honesty, and I welcome it wholeheartedly. I’m not saying that to sound open-minded or whatever, I truly welcome constructive dialog to point out where I may be skipping over details others may be interested in. The main reason I don’t dive in deeper in some of these posts is mainly because of length…whole books have been written on specific topics, and I just try to do my best to present them in a digestible manner.

    I will have to come back to this in a bit since I have a meeting, but I’ll try to tackle your points directly…

  3. June 14, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I’m going to give it a shot. This is still a pretty hasty and “nutshell” approach to these topics…

    Extra-biblical sources for Jesus’ historical existence (just a few):

    Josephus (A.D. 37-100), Antiquities (first passage may have been altered somewhat, second is not disputed):

    “Now there arose at this time a source of further trouble in one Jesus, a wise man who performed surprising works, a teacher of men who gladly welcome strange things. He led away many Jews, and also many of the Gentiles. He was the so-called Christ. When Pilate, acting on information supplied by the chief men around us, condemned him to the cross, those who had attached themselves to him at first did not cease to cause trouble, and the tribe of Christians, which has taken this name from him is not extinct even today.”

    “…so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned…”

    Tacitus (A.D. 55-117), Annals book XV:

    “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.”

    Also, people used to ask, “Why is Pontius Pilate not mentioned anywhere else outside the Bible?” Then a stone with his name carved into it was found in Caesarea, saying, “Tiberium, Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.” The ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus, was also found pretty recently.

    We have a lot of writers mentioning Jesus. Some of these historians, like Tacitus, are considered the most reliable recorders of history of their day, prone to accuracy rather than embellishment. When things are tampered with, experts can usually sniff it out, whether the style of prose is different, handwriting, ink analysis, context, etc.

    Keep in mind, much of ancient history is lost anyway. In the early days, Christianity wasn’t even important or major enough to warrant a whole lot of attention, and on top of that, there was also heavy persecution of Christians going on for a long time…so it’s fortunate how much we’ve still managed to find. I’m sure a lot of early Christian documents that would serve as evidence today were destroyed.

    Even skeptic historians will acknowledge that Mark and Paul’s writings can be dated to within years, or at most a couple decades, after Jesus. It seems to be a common tendency of modern people to think that everyone was super ignorant back then and easily fooled, but there is no historical precedent whatsoever for the existence of a man to be fabricated or a legend to be formed within the lifetimes of the people involved. It takes multiple generations at least, if not centuries, for legends to arise. There are more mentions of Jesus than some emperors.

    The claims of Jesus’ resurrection is also something that was completely counter-cultural, so it’s not something that would have been easily accepted without a solid level of evidence (in this case, over 500 people witnessed Jesus after his death).

    As far as specific prophecies Jesus fulfilled, check out a few on these websites:

    http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/messiah.htm
    http://100prophecies.org
    http://www.reasons.org/fulfilled-prophecy-evidence-reliability-bible

    In a nutshell, Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of being born of a virgin, from the line of David, other various geography, rejected, “pierced for our iniquities,” none of his bones would be broken (it was customary to break the legs of people being crucified to speed up the death, but they left his legs intact because he was already dead), buried in a rich man’s tomb (Joseph of Arimathea), etc. Some are more impressive than others, but there are a lot of them.

    Also, I guess it’s not necessarily silly to bring up the apparent contradictions or bad teachings of the Bible…but when the same ones keep getting thrown out there, even when they have been addressed or pretty much solved already, it gets old. Things like the slavery issue or whether it’s OK to drink alcohol, certain chronologies or things that are out of order…

    I’m sure there are probably more “official” sources to turn to, but I’ve always liked this guy’s treatment of the issue (and many other issues):

    http://kingdavid8.com/Contradictions/Home.html

    I’m going to end in a bit (for now), but I will say that I partially agree with you. It’s not 100% clear-cut, and I don’t think anything is, even evolution or a lot of science that people accept as fact. There is an element of faith. But when you total up the weight of the evidence and also appeal to some of your more intuitive/subjective senses, it can become more and more “obvious.” Maybe I sound naive sometimes, but it’s really only after a lot of “wrestling,” bitterness, coldness, then a swelling in my heart primarily after researching and thinking into the issues. I remain skeptical of a lot of things, including the claims of other Christians. When they say “God spoke to me,” I automatically raise an eyebrow because any of these experiences outside of myself are hard to confirm.

    I’ve also made it a deliberate effort of mine to read other texts and learn about other world religions. Taking off my hat of political correctness—which is rarely on anyway—all I can say is they don’t know what they’re missing.

    For people who are not firm in their faith or are still seeking, I admit I would recommend the New Testament first. It’s more “current,” and I personally think the Old Testament takes more knowledge and context before someone can fully appreciate it right off the bat.

    Gotta run for now…

  4. Allie
    June 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Thank you for the lenghty reply! I appreciate the time you put into it, I’ll check out the links before I comment further ..

  5. June 16, 2011 at 9:04 am

    You’re very welcome!

    There are also a number of good articles here (though some are outdated and need to be revised, most are solid): http://www.leaderu.com/menus/apologetics.html.

    They get articles and perspectives from a wide variety of apologists on a range of topics.

    This one is a very interesting article about the resurrection itself, which is probably the most important specific historical detail: http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html.

    I will caution, however, that if anyone is looking for an airtight case, they will probably never find it. But I do think that there is a strong case to be made for Christianity where it certainly can become more probable than not (if not near-compelling).

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