The Logic of Faith
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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