As a child, I used to think that all new cars were four-door and all the older ones only had two. Why? Because of my naive perception of society and progress; four doors made more sense than the impracticality of two doors, of course. We humans were modernizing, learning more about how best to transport ourselves each day. It wasn’t until I took a genuine interest in automobiles that I realized two-door cars were being built at that very moment. What seemed so practical to me was not the prevailing thought. It was one of many enlightening moments in my youth.
Speaking of enlightenment, just as the Age of Reason brought new ways of thinking beginning in 1650, so did it also attack the church’s authority and beliefs. But rather than jump into deep history, I’ll just mention that I’ve always been fascinated by one thing about this period of free thinking and discarding of superstitions: It ended.
As new discoveries in astronomy and physics settled in and the Enlightenment gave way to the next era of human thought, the Bible’s authority chugged silently along unscathed. Despite centuries of intense scrutiny, it has come out the other end shining. Nothing within those 66 books has ever been effectively refuted, though skepticism continues.
In a previous post, I argued the importance of reaching others through love rather than simply flexing our knowledge. But it is because we love others that we must also be able to answer their questions about a book we take to be divinely inspired and without error. Can we explain our convictions to a skeptic? What is practical to us as believers will not always prevail in the minds of those who aren’t, so here are two respectful talking points when someone confronts you with questions about the Bible.
Inspiration: The chances of a book written by approximately 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years and across three continents having such amazing unity seems virtually impossible. How could all these people convey the same uniform doctrine without the guidance of a divine being? You couldn’t gather 40 people on a single college campus today and end up with such agreement. Also, how does one explain the universal draw of a faith that has grown so exponentially it is the only world religion whose majority of adherents is no longer centered where it began: the Middle East?
Inerrancy: The Bible is constructed from over 5,300 manuscripts, most written within one generation of the originals. Homer’s Iliad, by comparison, consists of material from 643 copies. And there are only 10 known manuscripts of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, the earliest written 1,000 years after the events contained within. Yet these literary works are often taken by scholars at higher face value than the Bible.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to defend your faith, Focus on the Family’s TrueU curriculum offers an introduction to apologetics. The 10-part DVD set TrueU 2: “Is the Bible Reliable?” presents arguments from history and archaeology that prove the Bible is a reliable historical document, demonstrating how its claims have been upheld repeatedly by corroborating evidence. TrueU is a valuable resource for youth groups, college campus clubs, Sunday School classes, home-based small groups and individuals who want to strengthen their faith.
What arguments or questions have skeptics confronted you with, and how did you respond? Or what are some of the questions you’ve wrestled with yourself?