Can we trust the Bible?

“How can we trust the word to be true? How can we trust the authors of the Bible?”

This is a great question but also one that could receive a book length answer. I apologize that for this reason, I’ve waited for an opportunity to devote more time to it.

How can we trust the Bible to be true? At this point we are not asking questions about the canon (what books belong within the scripture?) or about the reliability of the manuscripts and their transmission (does our current text accurately reflect what was in the original manuscripts?).

Our starting point is the scripture as we recognize it with sixty-six books from Genesis through Revelation. How can we be sure they are truthful in all they proclaim?

Let me address this briefly under the following headings: internal witness (does the Bible make the claim of inerrancy), logic (is there a logical necessity that it be inerrant?), Christ’s view of scripture (did He regard it as inerrant?), external evidence (is there objective evidence that the scripture is inerrant?)

Internal witness: The scripture’s self-understanding and self-disclosure is that it is the word of God and that it speaks truthfully and authoritatively in all its parts. [i]

Logic: If we were to allow that the Bible could be untruthful and unreliable in parts, then we would have no basis for affirming anything in it with confidence. Furthermore, if it is the word of an infallible, almighty, omniscient God, then it would logically be wholly truthful in all that it intends to say.

Christ’s view: What Christ held concerning the scripture must be our linchpin of understanding. We believe that He is the savior of the world, the Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the grave. The entire scripture points to Him. He testified to the truthfulness of all scripture. He is the key witness to the veracity of every jot and tittle. [ii]

External evidence: Although the Bible has been under attack for centuries, archaeology has repeatedly corroborated the scripture’s testimony. Again and again, scholars have doubted the existence of people groups, usages of language, historical data, knowledge of geography, names of rulers, and so forth. They attack and try to discredit, and then archeological discoveries come along and support the biblical data.

Special considerations: Inerrancy does not require scientific precision. The Bible does not speak in modern scientific categories. For instance, if a person says, “I saw the sunrise this morning” we do not brand him a liar (for we know the earth moved and not the sun). This is called phenomenological language and the Bible often speaks in that way. There is no error in that manner of thought.

The Bible is truthful and reliable in whatever it speaks to. For instance, long before the concept of the big bang, the Bible declared that God made the universe by His word and not from what is visible. In the view of science, this was considered a laughable idea until the theory of the big bang came along and science came to support the idea of a beginning to the universe.

Conclusion:  The Bible is the word of God as breathed out by Him through human authors. It is truthful in all that it intends to affirm. The language may not be considered scientific, but it is truthful in its intended meaning. Because it is the word of God, it is not only truthful, but it is reliable and the only authority for our faith and our lives.

For further reading: Wayne Grudem has an excellent and nearly exhaustive treatment of this subject in chapters 2-8 of his Systematic Theology.

Currently, the book by R.C. Sproul, Can I Trust The Bible? is free on Amazon for Kindle.

Norman Geisler also has edited a book, Inerrancy that looks to be quite thorough.

[i] 2 Timothy 3:15-16, Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19, Matthew 24:35

[ii] Matthew 4:4, 5:18, John 6:63, 10:34-35, 17:17