Is the Bible true? Can we trust it? If you’re a Christian, these are questions that will come up at some point during your journey of faith. If you’re not a Christian, answering these questions is the first step in deciding for yourself whether Jesus is who He said He is or whether God should be a significant part of your life.
The reliability of Scripture is a huge subject that should not be taken lightly. This article is a brief introduction on how to go about exploring the issue.
The first step is to look at what the Bible is and how it came to look the way it does today.
The Bible is a compendium of books written over a huge span of time by many different authors. It’s a collection of stories, poetry, laws, prophecies, and exhortations that enable followers of Christ to understand who God is and what His purpose is for creation.
In order to determine that these historic documents have maintained their validity until today, one might first look at the Gospels. These are the four books that chronicle Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension. If we determine that these books are true, it sheds light on the rest of Scripture.
Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and author of The Reason For God, offers a good response when asked about the reliability of Scripture.
Is it Reliable?
F.F. Bruce was a scholar who began writing about the reliability of Scripture in the 1940’s. At that time, he wrote one of his greatest works, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, in which he defends the validity of the New Testament. It’s been updated several times since its original publication in 1943 and it continues to be a solid foundation for anyone wanting to study why we can trust the authenticity of Scripture.
Here, Bruce explains why it is important that the New Testament must be true:
That Christianity has its roots in history is emphasized in the Church’s earliest creeds, which fix the supreme revelation of God at a particular point in time, when ‘Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord . . . suffered under Pontius Pilate’. This historical “onceforallness” of Christianity, which distinguishes it from those religious and philosophical systems which are not specially related to any particular time, makes the reliability of the writings which purport to record this revelation a question of firstrate importance.
Bruce goes on to point out the original dates that the New Testament documents were written. All four gospels were written and widely circulated approximately 40 years after the crucifixion, a time period when hundreds of eye-witnesses to Christ’s life and miracles would have still been alive. In fact, many of Paul’s writings to the early church were being passed around 20 years after Christ’s death and resurrection.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then those who lived in that generation would have easily been able to debunk the early writings. New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright (who also wrote the forward for Bruce’s book) offers one of the most compelling cases for the historical resurrection of Christ.
This subject is too broad and complicated to be covered in this short amount of space, but you can get a more complete understanding of why we can trust that the Bible is true when you listen to the radio series we produced called Is the Bible Reliable?
As you look further into this subject, I would like to conclude with one final thought from F.F. Bruce himself:
It is, perhaps, not superfluous to remark that before going on to consider the trustworthiness of the New Testament writings, it would be a good idea to read them!
Corum Hughes works on the production team for HAVEN Today and is the managing editor of the All About Jesus blog. His passions include running, reading, watching movies, and seeking Jesus in places He is seldom sought. Corum lives with his wife in Idaho.
A hard-driving journalist, Lee Strobel was exactly where he expected to be at work: on top. His award-winning investigative reporting recently earned him a promotion to legal editor at the Chicago Tribune. But things weren’t going nearly as well at home where his wife Leslie’s newfound faith in Christ went against everything Lee believed—or didn’t believe—as an avowed atheist.
Utilizing his journalistic and legal training, Lee begins a quest to debunk the claims of Christianity in order to save his crumbling marriage. Chasing down the biggest story of his career, Lee comes face-to-face with unexpected results that could change everything he knows to be true.
Based on Lee Strobel’s award-winning bestselling book and starring Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway, and Robert Forster.