Is the Bible reliable and trustworthy?

By Chaz Oswald, Michigan

Before exploring this question, we should first tackle a prior question: What is the Bible? Well, the Bible is a compilation of 66 God-inspired and inerrant books written by roughly 40 different authors over 1600 years. Many of the authors had no communication or contact with each other, yet wrote distinctly about the same God—a feat unmatched by any other religion. Moreover, as stated in the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, “The Bible contains many different styles of writing such as poetry, narration, fiction, history, law, and prophecy.”

To prove the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible, Professor Jimmy Williams* gave us three observable examinations. It states: “These tests are the bibliographic test, the internal test, and the external test. The first test examines the biblical manuscripts, the second test deals with the claims made by the biblical authors, and the third test looks to outside confirmation of the biblical content.”

Bibliographic Test. It was identified that there are over 19,000 copies of the New Testament in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000 as compared to that written by Caesar, Aristotle and Plato which range from only one to twenty manuscripts.

The Jewish scribes held great reverence toward the Scriptures. Hence they exercised extreme care in making new copies of the Hebrew Bible. As a result, the quality of the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible surpasses all other ancient manuscripts. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, there has been significant evidence that the Hebrew scrolls match that which is found in the Bible today. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99% textually pure. That is an amazing accuracy.

Internal Test. The content analysis conducted has identified the biblical authors as primary spectators to the events around them and independent witnesses to that of Jesus Christ. What these authors observed were not mere folly or whims of belief but rather honest conviction. They maintained their testimony through both extreme persecution and martyrdom. The apostles believed so strongly in the Christ whom they preached that they suffered greatly to spread the Gospel. If the events were untrue, why would these men sacrifice their own lives?

External Test. This test in particular can be used when defending biblical accuracy to the so-called agnostic “intellectuals” who regard the Bible as a mere fairytale. The historical records by sources outside of the Bible conclusively prove the accuracy of biblical events. For example: The historical evidence of our Lord Jesus is confirmed by Roman, Greek and Jewish sources and citations. In addition, “the first-century Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus made specific references to John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and James in his Antiquities of the Jews” *. There has also been extra-biblical confirmation or reference to Jesus written “by an imprisoned Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion” which compares three deaths: that of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ.

Today’s misperception is that atheists and agnostics have an “intellectual high-ground” when it comes to scientific fact, understanding, reason and logic; the Christian viewpoint, on the other hand, is unfairly criticized as archaic in belief. However there are many concrete evidences that inherently prove the Bible’s unquestionable accuracy and thus, its authority. The question is: Are we willing to objectively examine the reliability of the Bible? When proven true, would we submit to its authority?

*http://bible.org/seriespage/defense-faith-are-biblical-documents-reliable

13 replies
  1. Bino Bolumai
    Bino Bolumai says:

    The content analysis conducted has identified the biblical authors as primary spectators to the events around them and independent witnesses to that of Jesus Christ.

    Does this apply, do you think, to the gospel writers’ direct reporting of the exact words spoken by various people?

    I have in mind how often our gospels’ writers “quote” other people. Besides Jesus’ the gospels also record words of the disciples, Herod, angels, demons, Satan, tax collectors, and crowds of people all saying the same words all together. The gospels even record long speeches spoken in dreams, and verbatim accounts of inner thoughts that were never spoken, but that Jesus knew because He could read minds.

    Here’s our Bible reliability question : How’d they do that? How are the gospel writers able to quote the incidental ephemeral speech of all those bit players exactly ?

    How did the gospel writers know exactly,
    word for word what the angel said in Joseph’s dream, [Mt 1, MT 2]
    word for word what Herod said in his secret meeting, [Mt 2]
    word for word what the centurion said [Mt 8]
    word for word what the man with leprosy said [Mt 8]
    word for word what the demons said [Mt 8]
    word for word what the Pharisees thought in their private thoughts but never spoke? [Lk 5]
    Word for word the things said by the woman at the well? [Jn 4]

    What possible method could our gospel writers have used to come up with all the various verbatim quotations they claim to give?

    Or did the gospel writers get all those “quotations” by just making them up? Is it more likely that “Matthew” knew the words Herod spoke in a secret meeting, or did “Matthew” probably, like everyone else back then, just make up quotes because that was the standard way to tell a story?

    And if the only reasonable non-magical explanation is that the gospel writers got their “quotations” by making them up, then …. our gospel writers made stuff up. Just made it up. And it is not true the gospels are historical, not in the sense that the sayings and events we read about in them actually happened.

    Bino Bolumai

    / In Bino Veritas /

    Reply
  2. Ljuan
    Ljuan says:

    I’m really interested to know the answers to the questions posted by Bino Bolumai. Can anyone answer the questions?

    Reply
  3. YMIblogging
    YMIblogging says:

    Thank you for the excellent question raised. To ensure that a good explanation is given, we’ve forwarded the question to the person in charge of biblical correspondence in RBC Ministries. Attached is his answer. You could download the pdf here.

    Reply
  4. Maulline
    Maulline says:

    The uploaded pdf..great answer. The gospel writers were inspired by God. They were filled with the Holy spirit and what they were writing down was not stuff that they had made up but that which God intended to be written down,hence the coherence. How they knew? God gave them the words through the Holy spirit. God knows every thing, even our intimate thoughts.

    Reply
  5. hartanto
    hartanto says:

    i have some question. i hear there are many writing or letters that no included in bible.

    why they didn’t insert the writing or letters? i hears that it can change our look in christian. is that true?

    Reply
    • YMIblogging
      YMIblogging says:

      I take it that by “writing or letters” you are referring to those extra-biblical books that were written around the same time as the biblical material but were not included in the Bible.

      The canon of the New Testament was confirmed as far back as the 16th century by various church councils. It contains books that were long accepted by believers and churches as writings inspired by the Holy Spirit. There were of course, many others but almost universally throughout the centuries, only the 27 books that we have today were considered to be the inspired Word of God. In other words, there was a long and careful process (and I believe strongly, guided by God) in determining which ones are or are not.

      From a purely secular or humanistic standpoint, the process of selection appears to be leaning toward a particular bias. But lest we forget, God is alive and if His Word is to be gathered and passed on from generation to generation of believers, then make no mistake about it, He will be involved in the process. That is where His guiding hand comes in, leading fallible humans in ways beyond our understanding to truths He has revealed. As such, the entire selection process of the biblical material is not based on human whims and fancies, but on God who, despite human frailty, acted through finite vessels to uphold His own truths and standards and miraculously brought forth the Bible as we know it today. It carries God’s message to mankind for all ages regardless of human approval or disapproval. This makes sense because Scripture is, after all, God’s Word, not man’s. God is the author and just as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:20-21, the human vessel is merely His chosen messenger:

      20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

      When considering the entire selection process, we cannot take God out of the equation, or we would end up looking at the messenger instead of the Author.

      regards,
      Biblical Correspondence
      RBC Ministries

    • Eduardo
      Eduardo says:

      Satan has always wanted to confuse people and make them doubt the Word of God. The 66 books of the Bible were inspired by God, other books are used by Satan to confuse you. Only guides you through the true Word of God to guide your life. Greetings and God bless you.

      For more information visit: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0031/0031_01.asp

  6. Eduardo
    Eduardo says:

    “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”
    (Salmos 19:7-10) KJV

    Reply
  7. Cammie
    Cammie says:

    I know that there’re people outside Christianity who claimed the Bible has been altered because some name wasn’t in there ( the prophet Muhammad of Islam – in their Qurran, he was the last prophet after Jesus) and also that the “helper” mentioned by Jesus before he was taken to heaven was that prophet. Living in Islamic country you’ll be accustomed to hear all this accusation that the Bible is not authentic. I marvelled at this quite for some time and struggled to find the truth behind this claim… However, after given it a deep thought & prayed about it, I finally able to have peace in my heart. In my walk as Christian, I found that the words in the Bible are life-changing and life-giving. Its words can be alive at times & pierce your very soul with truth… The very author of the Bible will reveal the truth to you whether in dreams, soft whisper, life difficulties, life success, etc… So I thought to myself how come this Bible is not authentic when my life is changing everytime I stumble upon its truth? I found out that the “helper” Jesus mentioned wasn’t him at all. The “helper” Jesus mentioned was the Holy Spirit but the Muslims always claimed it’s their prophet. So it became clear to me that this is just another clever scheme of Satan to drive away those who believes in Jesus so that they won’t believe in Him and thus be saved…I have full trust in God & the Bible now because God himself will tell us which things are true through the Holy Spirit..

    Reply
  8. Heren
    Heren says:

    The Bible is a very important food to all in God’s children ! His WORDS is a Life saviour to everyone of us.
    We must take His WORDS very seriously and sank down to our heart !Prayers and reading plus study the bible daily will help us to be closer to God and lead us to live in
    righteous and peacefully! To God’s be the Glory ! Amen !

    “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth “- Psalm 145:18

    “Blessed be GOD, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies.and the GOD of all comfort:who comforeth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort where with we ourselves are comforted of GOD. ” – 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

    “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . To him be glory both now and forever Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18

    Reply
  9. Kevin C
    Kevin C says:

    “…a feat unmatched by any other religion”

    I think this phrase is biased. Christianity is not the only religion with volumes of “books”. Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism too have their own, though they may not have 40 authors.

    Reply
  10. South Ken Len
    South Ken Len says:

    “The canon of the New Testament was confirmed as far back as the 16th century by various church councils.”

    Strange comment – the canon of the New Testament, as commonly received at present, was ratified by the third Council of Carthage (A.D. 397), and from that time was accepted throughout the Latin Church.

    This proves nothing however about the divine inspiration of scripture. if you believe it is inspired by god then you do so on spurious grounds. The argument for divine scripture is entirely circular:

    (Q) “Why do you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God?”
    (A) “Because the Bible tells me so”
    (Q) “And why do you believe what the Bible says?”
    (A) “Because the Bible is inspired by God”

    ad infinitum…..

    Reply

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