How Do You Respond to Someone Who Says the Bible Isn't True?
- 2022 23 Mar
The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety.
Well, if you begin with the God who out of His love has chosen to reveal Himself not only in nature, but in my consciousness and then supremely and superbly in the written word, then you begin to look for signs of how He did it and why He did it, and you attune yourself to a revelation, rather than beginning from human autonomy and a self-sufficiency of reason and saying, "That verse contradicts that one. How can the Bible be true. There's gotta be a problem here. It must have been written without inspiration." That doesn't mean we shouldn't answer the question of these verses that don't seem to say the same thing. That's the work we do here at Westminster Seminary every day. We're not going to answer all of them because there's mystery, but most of them have good ways to advance the issue.
One of the objections that I hear most comes from the same mentality that produced the da Vinci code, which you don't hear about much anymore. It was a big flash in the pen, but the mentality is still there, and that is, how do we know that the pristine Jesus and the real documents that His apostles wrote haven't been hidden or barred from us by this overgrowth of church authority, power, a gospel that was necessary if they were going to maintain their institution. There's scholarship that assumes this picture and it tries to go behind the surface, behind the New Testament that we all have and say, "What was the earliest form of this," instead of saying, "Actually, they were the apostles who wrote what they heard and saw as the witness is abundantly clear.
Again, you want to work on your presuppositions and say that, "The presupposition of a church that would bar us from the real Jesus goes against everything Jesus was about." "I will build my church." It wasn't some mistake. You can find provisions all along in scripture for its use in later generations. I think the apostles generally knew they were writing for the ages and not just to the local church.
Once you have this world view, then there's so many indications and scripture itself that its intentions are to be God's truth, inherent, authoritative, necessary, sufficient, clear, and because the Bible is so tied to the events of redemption, you can say, "It's unthinkable that there'd be redemption without there being a Bible." We expect it, and, sure enough, there it is.
I came to seminary as a brand new Christian, and I was wonderfully converted, but the Bible, according to the people who led me to Christ just didn't have any mistakes in it. In one of my first classes, it was a class on the transmission of scripture, and the professor taught us about the different manuscript traditions. I read the New Testament in Greek and it said, "Other manuscripts suggest this word instead of that word." I was shattered. I thought the Bible just came down. It took a while, but the wonderful professor actually explained how these things were not a problem, but an advantage because it meant that there was one from which many variants could have come. He walked us through a lot of them, and about 98% of them are completely insignificant.
Then he made the remark, "Unlike Islam, where the Quran is handed down from Heaven in Arabic, our Bible is handed out down through people with different histories, different temperaments, different personalities," so we should rejoice at the diversity of the Bible, even though we wish these footnotes would go away, and in some cases, scholarship has allowed them to go away. We're still working on many of the others.
It comes from a wonderful source. Cornelius Van Til used to use this homey image. He says, "The absolute assurance of scripture being infallible is like a man walking on a board or a dock that's gone underwater." The docks right there. It's just you can't always see it clearly because there's water covering you. I don't know if that's helpful or not, but the Bible is there, even though we have problems and we got to brush away some of the water. The dock is sound.
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