The Bible is the inspired word of God and the basis for Christian faith. However, skeptics often question the validity and accuracy of the Bible. As Christians, it’s important that we’re prepared to defend the Bible intelligently and effectively. Here are some key ways to defend the Bible:
The Bible makes bold claims about itself. It claims to be authored by God Himself through the inspiration of human writers (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21). It claims absolute authority over all matters of Christian faith and practice. And it claims to be completely true and reliable in everything it affirms.
With claims like these, it’s no wonder the Bible has faced intense scrutiny and criticism over the centuries. Skeptics have challenged the Bible’s historical accuracy, internal consistency, and scientific reliability. Many have written off the Bible as nothing more than ancient mythology and legend.
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As Christians who believe the Bible is the very word of God, it’s crucial that we know how to defend the validity and trustworthiness of Scripture. Being able to give reasoned responses to objections can strengthen our own faith and remove stumbling blocks that prevent others from taking the Bible seriously.
Here are some key principles and strategies for defending the Bible intelligently and effectively:
- The Bible has proven highly reliable when tested against other historical sources and archaeology.
- Many alleged “errors” in the Bible can be explained through proper interpretation and context.
- The Bible has a unified message despite being written by over 40 authors over 1,500 years.
- Fulfilled prophecy, transformational power, and the Bible’s candor about its heroes’ flaws all point to its divine inspiration.
- Science and the Bible are compatible when both are properly understood and interpreted.
- Respond to skeptics with grace and patience, relying on the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds.
The Bible Is Historically Reliable
Much of the Bible reports historical events that can be corroborated by other ancient sources. When historians critically examine the Bible’s account of history, they consistently find it matches well with other historical records and archaeological discoveries.
Here are a few examples:
- The New Testament mentions dozens of political leaders, kings, cities, and events that have been confirmed by sources outside the Bible. The title “Politarch,” used for city officials in Acts 17:6, has been confirmed on inscriptions from the first century.
“But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things.” (Acts 17:6-8 NKJV)
- The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion align with what we know about Roman legal systems and methods of execution from non-Christian sources.
- Extra-biblical sources confirm many details about major figures like Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate, and other New Testament personalities.
“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,” (Luke 3:1 NKJV)
- The names, dates, and events described in the books of Kings and Chronicles align with archaeological finds and recorded histories from neighboring nations like Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon.
So time after time, when historians investigate biblical claims, the Bible proves highly reliable. This gives us confidence that if archaeologists were to discover more sources and artifacts, they would continue to confirm the Bible’s accounts.
Alleged Errors Can Be Explained
Critics often point to alleged mistakes and contradictions in the Bible. However, careful examination typically reveals reasonable explanations for why the passages in question are not actually erroneous or contradictory.
Here are some examples of alleged errors that can be clarified:
- The Gospels give differing details about Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. But these differences can be attributed to different authors emphasizing different aspects of the same events. The accounts harmonize and fit together when considered in full.
- James and Paul seem to disagree about justification in their New Testament letters. However, they are addressing different issues. James emphasizes that saving faith produces good works, while Paul emphasizes that works cannot earn salvation. The two letters complement rather than contradict each other.
- The Old Testament Law commands “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13) yet also prescribes the death penalty for certain offenses. However, the Hebrew word translated “kill” refers to murder, while the death penalties were God’s just punishment for capital crimes. There is no contradiction.
With patient examination, alleged contradictions like these can be resolved. This indicates that they are perceived errors, not actual errors in the text.
The Bible Presents a Unified Message
Though written on three continents over 1,500 years in three languages by over 40 authors from all walks of life, the Bible tells one unified story. There is one unfolding drama from Genesis to Revelation centered on God’s relationship with humankind and His plan of salvation through Jesus. This unity points to divine orchestration rather than mere human authorship.
The unity of Scripture is found in themes like these:
- God’s holiness, justice, mercy, and sovereignty
- Humanity’s sinfulness and need for salvation
- God’s work through the nation of Israel
- The coming of the Messiah and His kingdom
- God’s new covenant through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ
- The call to repentance, faith, obedience, and holiness
- The promise of future glory in the new creation
Such consistent themes point to a Mind beyond the authors coordinating this Book’s composition. The Bible repeatedly claims this divine inspiration, and its unity provides strong evidence to back up that claim (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21).
Fulfilled Prophecy and Candid Accounts Support Divine Inspiration
The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies about future events or individuals. In many cases, these prophecies were written centuries before the predicted events happened. The precise fulfillment of so many prophecies supports the Bible’s claim of divine inspiration.
For example, the Old Testament contains over 300 prophecies about the coming Messiah—His ancestry, birthplace, ministry, betrayal, death, and resurrection. Jesus fulfilled these detailed prophecies, often in ways no one could deliberately arrange. The probability of anyone fulfilling just 8 Messianic prophecies are 1 out of 100,000,000,000,000,000. Yet Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies! This is powerful evidence of divine inspiration in Scripture.
The Bible also includes unflattering details and stories about its heroes that would normally be omitted or whitewashed in human-authored religious texts. For example, Noah’s drunkenness, David’s adultery, Peter’s denials of Jesus, and the disciples’ abandonment of Jesus are all candidly recorded. The fact that these unflattering events were preserved indicates God’s inspiration of Scripture. The authors recorded events precisely as God revealed them.
Science and the Bible Are Compatible
A common objection today is that the Bible makes mistaken claims about science. Critics charge the Bible with error for its descriptions of the earth, cosmic geography, biology, and other scientific topics. However, these objections reveal flawed assumptions.
The Bible was written to communicate theological truths to everyday people of ancient cultures. It uses observational language from the perspectives of the original audiences. The authors were not addressing modern scientific concerns. We must be careful not to force the Bible to conform to modern scientific vocabulary and paradigms that the human authors had no knowledge of.
When properly understood, the Bible does not actually conflict with scientific facts. For example, biblical references to the “four corners of the earth” just reflect everyday observational language (Isaiah 11:12). Statements about the sun moving across the sky match the earth-centered cosmology of ancient people, not modern space science (Joshua 10:12-13). And Genesis uses a simplified model of creation suited for all cultures and times to convey the theological truth that God created everything good and perfect. Genesis was never intended to be read as a 21st-century astronomy or biology textbook.
Properly interpreted, the Bible is compatible with science. Neither contradicts the other since God is the Author of both Scripture and nature. They reveal Him from different perspectives.
Respond with Grace, Trusting the Spirit
When discussing Bible difficulties with skeptics, we must maintain an attitude of grace, patience, and trust in the Spirit. The truth of Scripture can stand up to honest inquiry when properly understood. Our goal is not just to win arguments, but to gently guide people to the Savior. Pray for wisdom and for opportunities to discuss Scripture over time. The Holy Spirit must open eyes to see His truth, and only God can give the growth (2 Timothy 2:24-26, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
By knowing some basic principles for understanding Scripture and answering objections, we can intelligently defend God’s Word while also modeling Christlike grace. While we may not convince committed skeptics, we can remove barriers that prevent earnest seekers from taking the claims of the Bible seriously. Most importantly, we can become more confident ourselves in the divine origin and absolute authority of the Bible.
The Bible stands as the best-attested book from the ancient world, confirmed repeatedly by archaeology and non-biblical texts. Alleged errors fade away under careful scrutiny and interpretation. The Bible’s unity across centuries and authors confirms divine orchestration. Prophecies, theological consistency, and historical authenticity all point convincingly to the Bible’s divine inspiration. And when properly understood, Scripture does not conflict with true science.
By trusting the Bible, building our skills at understanding it properly, and responding to critics with grace, we can confidently defend God’s Word while guiding people into truth. The Bible can be defended, and as Christians, we must be ready to do so. But even more, we must know and live out its message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.