Over the past few months I’ve outlined a robust argument showing the Bible is inerrant, due to it being written by those commissioned by God to communicate His Word (prophets for the Old Testament and apostles for the New Testament). However, some alleged writings of apostles didn’t “make the cut” and are not included in the New Testament (such as the Gospel of Thomas). Some cry “foul” and accuse the early church of picking and choosing what they wanted to include in the Bible. Is this true? How did the early church come to conclude which books should be included in the New Testament?
What about Paul? We have good reason to believe Jesus commissioned his twelve disciples to write the New Testament, in the same way God commissioned Old Testament prophets to communicate God’s Word in their time, without error. But Paul was not one of Jesus’ disciples. Yet he wrote over half the New Testament. Are his writings to be included in the inerrant Word of God?
Currently many views of the Bible clamor for our attention. But we now have good reason to believe Jesus is God and therefore is the authoritative source to consult on this issue. What did Jesus think of the Bible? Does he take a stand? If so, what is his position? And why should anyone think he or she is a greater authority than Jesus on this (or any other) question? In this article, I will begin exploring Jesus’ view of the Bible.
In order to trust Jesus’ view of the Old and New Testaments, we must first establish him as an authority on the subject. If it is true that he is who he claimed to be—God in flesh—he is the ultimate authority! There is a second line of evidence proving Jesus is the almighty, eternal God. From these proofs of Jesus’ divinity the third premise in the argument for inerrancy is validated. I’ll discuss both these points in this article.
We depend on probability for most of our knowledge. Will this plane make it to its destination? Most probably (or we don’t get on it). Will I have enough for retirement? Most probably (or we make some changes). Will this be the right job for me? Most probably (or we don’t take the job). Making decisions based on probabilities is so common we usually don’t even think twice about this approach to discovering truth.
We have seen first-rate historical documents record Jesus of Nazareth claiming to be the eternal, personal, all-powerful and all-knowing God of all creation. Yet anyone can make such outlandish claims. We usually lock a person up who is talking like this. Is there any reason to believe Jesus’ claim to be God is actually true? At least three lines of evidence suggest the answer is ‘Yes.’ If the evidence is solid and confirms Jesus’ claim to be God, the second premise in the argument for inerrancy is verified.
The gospels, now proven to be first-rate historical documents, record what Jesus of Nazareth said and did during his brief time on earth. The second premise in the argument for inerrancy is that Jesus claimed and proved to be nothing less than God in flesh. What is the data to support the truth of this second premise?
We’ve evaluated the gospel accounts according to two of the three tests to determine their historical accuracy, and they are two for two. But there is one test remaining. Do other historical sources written in the same period confirm or contradict what the gospels record? In other words, is the external evidence (evidence outside the gospels themselves) consistent with what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John record? Or do other writers of the time contradict them? This is the final test developed by historians to determine the historical accuracy of a document. It is known as the External Evidence Test. So how well do the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus do when evaluated by this third criterion?
The strongest argument in favor of inerrancy begins with establishing the historical accuracy of the four gospel accounts. Last week I looked at the first criterion by which to determine this: how many copies do we have, and how close is the first copy to the original? The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John pass this test with flying colors. But this only tells us we have what these authors originally penned. How do we know they recorded what actually happened? Enter the other two tests of historicity.
I believe there is one rigorous argument for biblical inerrancy, with five premises leading to this conclusion (as discussed last week). The first premise is that the four gospels are first-rate historical recordings of the life of Jesus. This week I’ll discuss why we should treat the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as extremely accurate historical documents.
Last Tuesday I lost one of my heroes. Christian speaker, author, and editor Jim Sire passed “from the land of the dying into the land of the living” to a great reward at age 84. He not only had a massive influence on me and countless others through his many books (such as The Universe Next Door, which is one of four books I suggest each parent read with their children before college), he was also a friend and mentor to me and so many others. We can learn at least three lessons from Jim’s life.
Does the world need North Americans to continue sending missionaries worldwide to finish the task of seeing all people hear the gospel? Or have we done our part, and now it is time for those in other nations to finish the task in their homelands? A recent article taking the first position was criticized in a response in another journal here, highlighting the two opposing views. I just finished a book that charts a helpful “middle course” between the two.
Artists are able to see beauty before it exists, and bring it into being, taking raw materials such as paint, canvas, clay, metal, fabric, notes, words or movement, and producing something of value. I believe this is what Christians are called to do in culture—take what God has created and produce something of value, which leads to human flourishing and the common good. As Ted Turnau puts it, “God commands us to develop his creation. It makes sense, then, that the Bible begins with a garden and ends with a city.” (Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective, p. 54)
It either happened this week 1,984* years ago or it didn’t. If it did, God came to earth and can provide the flourishing and eternal life He promised. If it didn’t, anyone who believes the Easter myth is a fool. The past four weeks I’ve responded to six common objections to Jesus’ bodily resurrection that first Easter morning. But there is a seventh objection worth considering…