The Logic of Faith

(10) Summary

Introduction

The evidence presented so far falls into three broad categories. First of all there is evidence that the Bible contains an accurate account of the words, teachings and actions of the prophets and of Jesus Christ. Second, there is the evidence of the witness of these people to the Scriptures. Finally there is additional evidence that the Bible is inspired in the words that it contains.


Evidence that the Bible is Accurate

This evidence does not, in itself, prove that the Bible is inspired by God, but it does show that the Bible gives an accurate account of the histories that it contains and a full record of the words and teachings of the prophets and of Jesus. The evidence available includes the following:

  • Archaeology
    The Bible contains detailed descriptions of many places, people and events which are also found in secular histories and in archaeological excavations. When the evidence outside the Bible is pieced together one can see that the Bible has an accurate account of the relevant history. The people concerned really existed at the right time, the events happened when they were supposed to and the descriptions of the places match the actual places as discovered by archaeologists. This is quite different from more recent forgeries like the apocryphal books or the Gospel of Barnabas.
  • Manuscript Evidence
    The oldest manuscripts of books from the New Testament come from the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cave Seven). These were buried in 68 AD but must have been copied rather earlier. The fragment of the Gospel of Mark in this cave must have been copied in about 50 AD. This shows that the gospels were written within a very short time of the events they describe. It confirms that they could have been written by eyewitnesses, and that there would be many eyewitnesses available to correct them if they had been in error. The evidence of the early fragments is supported by the existence of many thousands of more recent, although still ancient, manuscripts. These confirm to us that we still have a text of the New Testament which is accurate enough for all practical purposes. The text of the Old Testament is even more firmly established, as can be seen from finds of Old Testament books among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • Linguistic Fossils
    Although they were written in Greek, the Gospels contain reports of words that were originally spoken in another language, Aramaic. The people who originally read these Gospels, and later copied them, did not understand Aramaic. They would therefore have been unable to construct documents which contain evidence of an Aramaic original and any errors made in copying would not have been able to have been corrected. We can therefore tell that the Gospels contain an accurate record of the words of Jesus and that they have been faithfully copied. These linguistic fossils are especially marked in the Gospels, where a great deal of speech which was originally in a foreign language is recorded. However it occurs in the Old Testament as well, with archaisms in places which describe very early history and characteristic words from Assyrian and Babylonian sources (such as the titles "Tartan" and "Rabshakeh" in 2 Kings 1817).
  • Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences
    Finally there are coincidences of tiny detail. When one compares accounts of the same events in different places in the Bible it becomes clear that while some understanding may be necessary to piece together the story, the details do match one another in the different accounts. Often the correspondence is in details which are so insignificant that it is unlikely that they would be made up; these tiny details would also be the first to be lost if poor copying caused any significant degradation in the text of the books. This phenomenon is exhibited throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

The Witness of Jesus and the Prophets

There can be no doubt that the Bible contains the words of Jesus and that these words are reported accurately. Equally, there is no doubt that Jesus was a very special person who revealed what God is like and who spoke for God. If nothing else does, his resurrection from the dead shows that God recognises him and endorses his teaching.

One of the teachings of Jesus concerns the Bible. This is the teaching that the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments alike, is the direct word of God. If we wish to claim to be followers of Jesus, we must accept his teaching about the Bible. Even if we only revere him as a prophet or as an authority on spiritual matters we must accept this teaching. This leaves us only the option of rejecting Jesus' teaching or of accepting that the Bible is inspired by God.

A similar witness is also given by the prophets. This can be found in the section dealing with inspiration. If any of them were true prophets then the Bible must be the inspired word of God.


Direct Evidence

Having shown that the Bible is inspired by God, it is interesting to see some collateral evidence of this. This series has introduced two pieces of evidence: fulfilled prophecy and harmony.

  • Fulfilled Prophecy
    The Bible contains a considerable quantity of predictive material. 27% of the Bible is prophecy and, of the prophecy to be fulfilled before the immediate time of Jesus' return, 100% has been fulfilled. The predictions are detailed and they are specific. There is only one way of accounting for them, by accepting that God was responsible for the words of the Bible.
  • Harmony
    The Bible was written over a long time (about one and a half millennia) by a wide variety of people from very different backgrounds over half the ancient world, writing in three languages. In spite of this it has a single united message. There would have been no human way to have achieved this. We can therefore see that God was at hand in producing the Bible.

Conclusion

In brief, the idea that the Bible was inspired by God is not some fantasy believed by a few cranky extremists. It is clearly taught by the Bible itself and is supported by strong evidence.
 

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