By Charles A. Hauser, Jr.
Throughout history man has tried to minimize the importance and influence of the Bible. At times, the Bible was kept from people; programs were designed to destroy it. Some wished to negate the influence of a particular book, as did Dionysius in the early church. He tried to cast doubt regarding the apostolic authorship of Revelation, because it teaches Christ’s literal reign on earth. The last two centuries reflect scholars’ focus on negating the supernatural inspiration of Scripture, trying to reduce it to a man-made book tracing man’s search for God.
Those believing the Bible was inspired of God””and is, therefore, the inerrant Word of God to man””must face these issues fairly. They need to respond to issues raised by unbelieving liberal scholars. Several arguments demonstrate either the unique nature of Scripture or the weaknesses of the arguments attacking it.
Witness of Archaeology
Liberalism considers the Old Testament as myths and legends, unreliable and historically unfounded. An early liberal leader stated that the Old Testament gives no historical facts about the patriarchs, only about Israel’s existence when the stories were invented. The results of archaeology demolish the foundations of this approach. In the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, F. M. Blaiklock states, “It is. . . no longer possible to dismiss the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as folklore of the sort invented by emerging people to explain their origins” (p. 282). Archaeological data match the Bible’s record of customs, names, places and time periods.
Liberalism told us that people could not write during Moses’ time and that the Hittite nation never existed. Now, facts prove writing did exist before 2000 B.C., and much is known about the Hittite nation. To illustrate the witness of archaeology, H. F. Vos reveals in the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia eight functions of Biblical archaeology: (1) It aids in understanding the Bible. (2) It describes life in Biblical times. (3) It clarifies obscure Scriptural passages. (4) It helps explain historical narratives and contexts of the Bible. (5) It helps confirm the accuracy of the Biblical text and its contents. (6) It shows the falsity of some liberal, critical theories of Biblical interpretations. (7) It helps establish the accuracy of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. (8) It shows that the Biblical text has been relayed with a remarkable degree of accuracy. Vos states that “to date there has not been an instance of archaeology conclusively demonstrating the Bible to be in error” (p. 125).
Witness of Christ
Christ’s attitude in the Gospels toward the Old Testament and His teaching certainly declared it authoritative. He refers to many Old Testament persons, the existence of whom liberalism denies. In Matthew 19:5, He uses the Genesis account of creation to teach the longevity of the marriage relationship. Denouncing teachers of the Law in His day, He refers to the relationship of Cain and Abel (Luke 11:51). The story of Jonah depicts the time between His death and resurrection (Matt. 12:40). Noah (Matt. 24:37″”39) and Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32) are exemplary historical characters for people of His day learning spiritual lessons. Moses wrote Deuteronomy (Matt. 19:8) and the commandments of God (Matt. 15:3, 4). Also, Christ considered Himself the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, thus affirming the concept of prophecy liberalism rejects. In Luke 4:16″”21, He reads from Isaiah 61:1 and 2a, stating that the passage now is being fulfilled.
The liberal attempt to discount this evidence is not convincing. As it becomes more certain the Gospels were written in the First Century not long after events occurred, it becomes more difficult to say the gospel writers invented their stories. It belittles the Person of Christ to say He did not know any better or that He accommodated Himself within current beliefs to make His ministry more effective. If Christ was Who He said He was, He could not err regarding historical facts.
Witness of Scripture
One judges a piece of literature by examining it. Two Scriptures come to mind immediately””2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:19″”21.
Second Timothy 3:16 states that all Scripture is God-breathed; all that qualifies as Scripture is a product of God’s creative breath. The Bible denotes “Scripture” as the New and Old Testament writings. Note that this verse deals with the end result, not the process. Scripture is inspired, not the men. All Scripture is profitable, as well as God-breathed. The verse continues, describing how Scripture is useful to the believer.
Second Peter 1:19″”21 conveys the process of inspiration and how it occurred. Verse 21 states that the writers of Scripture were borne along by the Holy Spirit. That is, they were under His complete control, speaking of God. Thus, what they wrote was not their message, but God’s message. God used their vocabulary and writing style, and the Holy Spirit’s control guaranteed the message was without error””exactly that which God wanted written.
The witness of the Bible to itself is quite clear. It claims to be the Word of God, given by God in such a way as to eliminate all possibility of error. As the Word of God, it is authoritative in all it says.
Witness of Faith
Finally, trusting the Bible for truthfulness and reliability is a matter of faith. Archaeology demonstrates that the Bible’s account of certain time periods is historically accurate. It affirms the occurrence of actual Biblical events. But the Bible is much more than a listing of events. It is an interpretation of them from the perspective of God Himself. Accepting this interpretation of history and its theology is done on the basis of faith only. Two present-day examples illustrate this faith.
Recently, a Ph.D. affiliated with the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) spoke at the Central Baptist Theological Seminary on this subject: “A Scientist’s View of Creation.” His first lecture, “Christ Can Change Your Life,” set forth his belief in evolution””until he accepted Christ as his Savior. Then he gained a new perspective on life. He could see the fallacies of evolution and how the creation that he studied fit the Bible’s account. The difference was not in the scientific evidence, but in how he viewed that evidence. His spiritual blindness was lifted, and he could see the truth of God that previously was hidden.
The second example is that of Dr. Eta Linnemann of Germany. She studied under Bultmann and other leading teachers of higher criticism. She became one of the leading proponents of that position, writing books and articles for scholarly journals teaching liberalism’s standard views. Then she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. Her approach to Scripture changed, and that which she once denied, she now claims; what she once taught, she now rejects. She states, “My “˜no’ to historical, critical theology stems from my “˜yes’ to my wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to the glorious redemption He accomplished for me on Golgotha.” Her conclusion is that no truth is derived from the higher critical approach to Biblical text; such labor expended does not serve the proclamation of the gospel. She states that by God’s grace, she was able to recognize that Scripture is inspired. She threw away her former writings, considering their teaching sin.
This matches the teaching of Scripture itself””without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). A spiritual birth is necessary before one can see the Bible for what it actually is. When that birth occurs, the truth about the Bible becomes available to us, and the glorious truth that it is the Word of God is evident.
The bottom line is this””we can trust the Bible. The reason we can is because of Who God is and what He has done.
Charles A. Hauser, Jr. is a professor at Central Baptist Theologial Seminary. Copied by permission from FrontLine magazine.