It isn't uncommon to hear people mocking Christians these days. In baseless confidence they strut about claiming the Bible to be unreliable and irrelevant; at best a meaningless collection of ideas and at worst, a dangerous thing to believe. The need for a determined effort among modern day believers to be equipped to defend the faith has never been more urgent.
In the face of evangelical atheists and post-modernists, their message cleverly packaged in main stream media, their positions "well" researched and "substantiated", the unprepared believer has many times found himself on shaky ground to put it lightly. Unfortunately, the global church has been slow to teach the depths of what it means to love the Lord with all our minds.
There are three things that every believer needs to be able to defend to even some degree:
1. The accuracy of the Bible
2. The historicity of Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection
3. The divinity of the Bible.
Now, entire books have been written on each of these topics. Josh McDowell's "The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict" is an excellent resource I bought in my mid to early teens. Josh McDowell, previously an unbelieving attorney at law was challenged by Christians to disprove Christianity. He accepted the challenge and using his legal skills unearthed a mountain of solid and irrefutable evidence, much of which has informed my summarized thoughts below.
The accuracy of the Bible
They will say “The Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales that has no basis in reality”. Actually, that statement has no basis in reality. By secular standards the Bible is the most accurate ancient document ever written! State this boldly, you have studied the basic arguments and are confident in your secure position. Accuracy has to do with whether or not what was actually written is what we have now; and determines the degree to which fantasy may have invaded the material. Archaeologists use three tests to determine the accuracy of ancient literature: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test and the external evidence test.
The Bibliographical Test
The bibliographical test looks at the manuscript evidence to determine the reliability of the document, seeing that the original documents aren’t in our possession. This test examines the number of manuscripts and time interval between original and currently existing manuscripts in our possession. The principle is simple; more manuscripts, and a shorter time interval means more reliability. The Iliad comes in second place in terms of numbers, with approximately 3000 copies. The New Testament has a whopping (approximately) 20,000 manuscripts!
As if that weren’t impressive enough these manuscripts are also very close in time to the originals in the context of ancient literature. John Warwick Montgomery emphatically states “To be sceptical of the New Testament books is to allow all of classicalantiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as attested bibliographically as the New Testament”.
The Internal Evidence Test
The internal evidence test deals with reliability from the perspective of contradictions. It asks the question “Does the author disqualify himself by contradiction or known factual inaccuracies?”. The fact that the New Testament writers were eye witnesses to what they describe boosts the internal evidence rating of the Bible significantly!
The disciples site continually “This we have seen with our very eyes” and also “as you yourselves know”. They understood the powerful nature of first hand witness accountsand held out their accounts for public scrutiny. Professor Gleason Archer, a well respected scholar in ancient literature stated concerning the internal evidence of the Bible.
“As I have dealt with one apparent discrepancy after another and have studied the alleged contradictions between the biblical record and the evidence of linguistics, archeology or science, my confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture has been repeatedly verified and strengthened, by the discovery that almost every problem in Scripture that has ever been discovered by man, from the ancient times till now, has been dealt with in a completely satisfactory manner by the biblical text itself – or else by objective archaeological information.”
The External Evidence Test
The external evidence test compares the writings of a document to other documents written around the same time period and asks the question “Do other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimony provided by the document itself? Again the evidence is on our side; the most powerful evidence in this category being what I call “hostile confirmation”. Persons perpetually claim that there is no confirmation of Jesus or of New Testament events in non-biblical sources; this of course is categorically false.
Please state this boldly and respectfully, you are about to drop some knowledge! Tacitus, Suetonius and Josephus are three historians that should be explored, and so many more accounts exist.
Tacitus is a first century Roman, and is one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world. He writes “…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 our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for a moment, again from out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil but also in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.” (Tacitus Annals, 15.44).
Tacitus describes as “the mischievous superstition” what we celebrated on Resurrection Sunday, the mind blowing resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
It is no surprise that the Lord has painstakingly grounded his Holy Word in so much factual evidence! We have a logical basis for faith! Every believer needs to know these basic arguments to bring a defense in a deceptive and dark age, in which we shine like stars.
Dr. Daniel Thomas is a medical doctor and Christian Advocate who loves the Lord deeply. He currently leads a youth organization called the Love March Movement which is committed to empowering the youth to fight for sexual purity and the family in Jamaica.
Dr. Daniel Thomas is a medical doctor and Christian Advocate who loves the Lord deeply. He is married to Grace-ann Thomas the love of his life and currently leads a youth organization called the Love March Movement; which is committed to empowering the youth to fight for sexual purity and the family in Jamaica.