It can be presumptuous to assume the Bible is a reliable reference in my writings just because I am a follower of Jesus. A book has to stand the test if it claims to be unique. We can know God without the Bible, but if the Bible is God’s inspired words it can make our relationship even richer. All religions are worthy of consideration and offer Books such as the Quran, Tipitaka, or Book of Mormon.
At times we would be better off without the Bible when used to divide followers into divisive groups (i.e. Denominations). Paul spoke about the harm of divisions among follower (I Cor. 1:12). Jesus came to change disharmony in relationships. Christianity would have more of an impact if our discussions about God were more civil since interpretations are imperfect. Biblical interpretations must be plausible based on what a loving God should be like. God cannot ask us to believe in anything unworthy of human, rational belief as we are made in God’s likeness.
The Bible is unique though because Jesus is the only religious leader who proclaimed He would rise from the grave. The Apostle Paul says Christianity is a joke if Jesus did not resurrect after promising He would (I Cor. 15:14). The Bible proclaims Jesus’ resurrection as fact, so the Bible is not credible if this event did not occur. Jesus was an actual person that lived, unless you question if Julius Caesar existed. An empty tomb is a provable historical fact beyond reasonable doubt as opposed to a story made up by first centuries Christians perpetuated over the next two thousand years. When the disciples spoke of Jesus’ resurrection and people responded with faith, all the authorities had to do was produce the dead body. Other faiths rely on a future promise. Christianity relies on a promise that happened in the past.
The grave was empty! Paul recorded that over 500 witnesses saw Jesus after His death, most of who were living when this fact was recorded (I Cor. 15:3-8). Some may claim Jesus’ body was stolen and that 500 eyewitnesses were recruited to perpetuate this lie. That takes faith! We would have to believe that over the next few decades Jesus’ disciples were willing to be martyrs for what they knew to be a lie. Religious martyrs today are often motivated by something they believe will become true in the future, not an actual historical, miraculous event that happened in the past. There is sufficient, historical evidence that Jesus resurrected. Christianity is alive today because apparently the tomb was empty. The Bible is not a hoax!
Secondly, the New Testament has no equal with other literatures yet we claim them reliable. Nearly 25,000 manuscripts of the New Testament exist in libraries and universities today. The earliest of these is a fragment of John’s Gospel, which has been dated to within 50 years of the date when the apostle John penned the original. Within 100 years we have books and within 225 years the complete New Testament. We don’t have the original manuscripts written but for over 99 percent of the words of the Bible, we know what the original manuscripts said through textual criticism. We know what the variants are (different words in different ancient copies of the same verse) but none change any doctrines. Our present manuscripts are practically the same as the original manuscripts. To question them is to question all ancient historical documents.
Can it be defended that human beings using their own language wrote the Bible, but that the activity of God in overseeing the writing of Scripture caused it to be also His words? No supposed contradictions have ever been proven in the Bible. The Bible, written over a 1000 years including 66 different books written in three different languages by many different authors, does have an incredible unity and consistency as though orchestrated by a Higher Power. God’s actual words are recorded in many instances such as God’s command to Adam (Gen 2:16-17), the Ten Commandments given to Moses (Ex 20:1-3), and God speaking from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (Matt 3:17). The writers are either recording the words of God spoken to them in some fashion or lying and saying God spoke to them when He didn’t.
“Thus says the Lord” appears thousands of time in the OT. The Old Testament’s contention that it actual contains God’s words should be considered innocent until proven guilty. God said He would actually give the prophets His words in their mouth (Jer. 1:9; Deut. 18:18-20). Anyone who claimed to be speaking for the Lord but who had not received a message from Him was punished (Ezek. 13:1-7; Deut. 18:20-22) [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 49]. Old Testament Scriptures do not indicate dictation from God, but the prophets clearly indicate they knew when the Spirit of God was teaching them.
In excess of five thousand times they say, “Thus says the Lord.” By so saying, they distinguish thoughts and words they receive from God himself from their own. For example the prophet Nathan illustrates this distinction. The prophet gave his personal approval for David to go ahead and build a temple similar to the cedar palace he had just completed for himself in 2 Samuel 7:3. That very night, however, the Lord appears to Nathan and nixed the whole idea, instructing him to give God’s own words about such a contemplated project rather than his own opinion. Accordingly, not everything a prophet said was inspired: only when the prophet spoke as the oracle of God – and almost universally introduced that word with the introductory formula: “Thus says the Lord.” At other times the prophet spoke as much “off the cuff” as any of us do on any other topic. (Walter Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents, 20)
We might ask if the Books we have are the ones intended by God to convey His thoughts. There is no record of any dispute between Jesus and Jews over the extent of the 66 books of the Canon as we know it. Jesus and New Testament authors quote various parts of the Old Testament Scriptures as divinely authoritative hundreds of time. Statements from the Apocrypha or any others writing are not cited with the lone exception in Jude 6 from I Enoch 1:9.
We cannot touch our Creator but we know God is present and involved in our lives. Also, the Scriptures are reliable historical documents conveying God’s very thoughts. All you have to do to discredit the Bible is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the resurrection recorded as a fact was a hoax. It is true my writings often rely on my understanding of God according to Scriptures, but I believe the Bible is one way God speaks to us. Reading the Bible from beginning to end is not always ideal as the Bible is not a Book but a collection of writings. God, the Creator, was different from the other gods. God did not demand power for the mere sake of being in power. God believed in freedom and even joined in suffering resulting from freedom by allowing His Son to suffer a horrible crucifixion.