Witnessing Viewpoints Series, Number Two
The Christian Counter Project
KNOWING WHY YOU BELIEVE: EVIDENCE AND THE BIBLE
Much has been said about the reliability of Scriptures,
both in the Old and New Testaments. What we need to do is to
pinpoint what we mean when we say that "the Scriptures are
reliable." We also want to substantiate our own belief that the
Bible is the Word of God, authoritative and God's revelation,
complete in its original texts.
Throughout our society, we have come to rely on different
kinds of evidence. Evidence supporting the reliability of the
Scriptures lies in many of these kinds of evidence.
1. Scientific Evidence
Scientific evidence is the kind of evidence that is used to
study natural events. This kind of evidence is characterized by
noting that the outcome of a particular set of controlled
variables is both consistent and repeatable. An example of this
is the property of gravity. Objects fall, and this can be
demonstrated over and over again, and it happens in a consistent
manner. An example of what is NOT scientific evidence is the
supposition that intermediate species exist to bridge the gap
between man and ape. We cannot repeat the circumstances that
would lead to the confirmation of this kind of evidence, and the
inference of intermediate forms is subject to personal
interpretation, so it would not be considered scientific
2. Historical Evidence
Historical evidence is the kind of evidence that implies
that an event occurred sometime in the past, and there is some
kind of record that we may rely upon, demonstrating or
purporting that such an event existed. Historical evidence
requires either a written, oral, or natural record of what
happened. The written record of social events, the orally
transmitted stories told by many tribal peoples, and
archaeological and geological finds can all be considered valid
historical evidence. An example of what is NOT historical
evidence is the interpolation of data. An example is when
statistical data is correlated and used to estimate the trend of
some type of action or result. The estimation is not historical
evidence, although the base data may be.
3. Testimonial Evidence
Testimonial evidence is evidence given by one person to
another. It may sometimes rely on historical evidence. A
personal testimony is an example of this. The autobiography of
Billy Graham is also an example. It may also be that the
testimonial evidence is given by the subject matter itself.
4. Subjective Evidence
This can really be referred to as personal conclusions.
This kind of evidence is very often discounted, unless some
record of credibility exists in the subject giving the evidence.
This may easily turn into testimonial evidence.
Scientific Evidence And The Bible
Because of the nature of Scriptural writings, it is often
hard to imagine scientific evidence for the reliability of
Scriptures. However, when coupled with testimonial evidence, we
find that Scriptures are reliable. How so?
The testimonial evidence of the Bible implies a rational
and intelligent order to our world. This is demonstrated by the
consistency of what we have come to know as "natural laws." The
wonder and intricacy of naturally occurring and repeatable
wonders serves as the evidence for a rational and intelligent
creator. Our own being, complex and wondrous as it is, gives
evidence that is repeatable.
This implicit testimonial evidence, and also explicit
testimonial evidence, show that scientific truth supports
Scriptural claims in some way. (Rom 1:19-20) Scientific
evidence is usually not used alone to support the reliability of
Historical Evidence And The Bible
Historical evidence is by far the richest and most abundant
source of testimony in favor of Scriptural reliability.
Concerning the New Testament, consider the following:
-> There are more than 5500 original writings in Greek.
-> Two major manuscripts exist, written within 250 years of the
events of the New Testament. Codex Vaticanus, AD325 and Codex
-> Over 18000 transcriptions from the times of the early Greek
manuscripts exist. (These are translations into other
languages.) What they say is consistent with what is contained
in the Greek writings.
Contrast this to:
-> Caesar's "Gallic Wars", only existing copy was from 1000
years after it was written.
-> The copy of the Odyssey, 2200 years after it was written.
-> Herodotus' Histories: only 8 copies exist.
What Others Have Said About The Scriptures
"The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much
greater than the evidence for many writings of classical
authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of
questioning." -- F.F. Bruce
"And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings,
their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all
doubt" -- F. F. Bruce
"The interval between the dates of original composition and the
earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact
negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the
Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were
written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the
general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be
regarded as finally established." -- Sir Frederick Kenyon
Testimonial Evidence and the Bible
The Bible has contained its own evidence.
"But the Word of the Lord abides forever." (1 Peter 1:25)
"All Scripture is God-breathed, ..." (2 Tim 3:16)
"For no prophecy was made by an act of human will, but men moved
by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Peter 1:21)
Subjective Evidence and the Bible
Your own testimony is subjective evidence for the Bible.
Blomberg, Craig; The Historical Reliability of the Gospels; IVP;
Larson, Bob; Larson's Book of Cults; Tyndale House; 1986
Little, Paul; Know Why You Believe; IVP; 1968
The Christian Counter Project
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