can we tell whether or not the Bible is telling the truth?
is often the boast of a man who is too lazy to investigate."
Bible is nothing to me, only in so far as it agrees with what I think
An open mind: means to an end, or an end in itself?
"Rather than commit
to believing the Bible, I prefer to keep an open mind." This is a common
attitude heard today. Reasonable people agree that an open mind is good,
but it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
The mind, like a jury,
hears all the arguments and then must decide what to believe. For without
coming to a verdict, open-mindedness can be the most closed-minded position
of all if it persistently refuses to distinguish truth from error. To
remain open to any belief, when many beliefs are false, is to be open to
believing what is false - a logical dilemma. Therefore, we must discern
what is believable from what is not. The question is how.
The truly open mind
should seek an objective test of the Bible's claims. Such a test is found
in the science of law. John Warwick Montgomery, noted English barrister
and professor of law, introduces to New Testament apologetics the McCloskey
and Schoenberg fourfold test for exposing perjury (from the work Criminal
Law Advocacy). 1
Of concern are the possible internal defects and external
defects of both the witness and of the testimony.
3.2 TEST ONE: Internal defects in the witness.
there evidence which suggests the witnesses, in our case the biblical authors,
are untrustworthy or dishonest? No. There is no known predication
for lying, insanity or habitual criminal activity by them. Those few authors
who are known to have committed crimes (e.g., David for arranging the death
of Bathsheeba's husband, Saul (later to be called Paul) for persecuting
Jewish converts to Christianity) admit to their past and are openly remorseful
for having acted in such ways.
In general, the frequent
admissions of biblical authors' failings and weaknesses within their own
writings assert the characteristics of honesty, humility, and repentance.
Conclusion: there are no proven internal defects in the witnesses.
3.3 TEST TWO: External defects in the witness.
there motives on the part of the authors to lie; in particular, those who
were witnesses to Jesus' resurrection?
It is unlikely in the
extreme that multiple persons, isolated from one another, would each suffer
torture and death for maintaining the same story if they were not completely
convinced of its truth. Namely, that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the
Old Testament prophecies.
Consider that all eleven
of Jesus' twelve apostles who witnessed his resurrection were executed for
their undenied belief in him (all twelve when including Paul); three of
whom were New Testament authors (four when including Paul). Also consider
They lost the possibility
both of worldly wealth and of societal acceptability among their Jewish
peers because of their commitment to Jesus. Might that very affection
for and attachment to Jesus serve as a motive to falsify? Not when we
remember that their Master expressly taught them that lying was of the
on the apostles' opponents:
They had the means,
motive and opportunity to expose the apostolic witness as inaccurate and
deceptive if it had been such. The fact that they did not can only be
effectively explained on the ground that they could not.
Clearly the risks and
punishment for maintaining their convictions about Jesus outweighed what
would have been the temporal rewards of changing their story. The same can
be said of many of the prophets of the Old Testament who were killed by
those they served. Thus no earthly net gain can be said to have been the
authors' motive for their testimonies. Conclusion: there are no proven
external defects in the witnesses.
3.4 TEST THREE: Internal defects in the testimony.
the New Testament writings inconsistent or self-contradictory?
The four Gospels are accounts of Jesus' life by four different men. The
accounts, covering many yet not all of the same events are not word for
word identical. If they were identical, they certainly would be suspect.
Instead, the accounts
are complementary; each providing different perspectives without contradiction.
In fact, no where in the Bible has any contradiction been proven to exist.
This assertion is not unchallenged, of course, and may be pursued under
the category Objections.
(For other specific challenges, try When Critics Ask by Geisler/Howe,
or Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer. These are not the only books
on the subject, but ones I've personally seen and respect. Also look here
for online sources.)
3.5 TEST FOUR: External defects in the testimony.
biblical writings reflect what we know to be true from history, archaeology,
and various sciences?
There is overwhelming
support for the Bible in these fields and more. To support this claim,
most of the remaining sections of this division (Veracity) look deeply into
those fields with a special concentration on science and its pioneers (Christian
and non) of both yesterday and today.
NEXT: Does Archaeology confirm or deny the claims of
there a God?
What do we know about
Jesus - from non-biblical sources?