Last week, I began to address the criticism that the Bible is nothing more than “mythological tales without any basis in historical fact.” That is a common misconception of our day.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over a period of 1,500 years by some 40 authors. The oldest of these books is nearly 4,000 years old. The fact that we even have copies of this book is itself amazing, let alone the fact that we have accurate copies of it.
We have older manuscripts of the Bible than we have for any other ancient book. We have more manuscripts of the Bible than we have for any other ancient book and we have closer manuscripts of the Bible than we have of any other ancient book.
The distinguished biblical scholar, Dr. F.F. Bruce wrote, “The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning… If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond doubt.”
Sir Frederic Kenyon, one of the foremost experts on ancient manuscripts and their authority wrote, “The interval between the dates of original composition (of the New Testament) and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”
There are over 4,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part, and over 300 complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in museums and libraries around the world. Many of these books have been alluded to by other writers that have been dated as contemporaries of the authors.
Bruce is right: If the New Testament were nothing but a mere collection of secular writings, we would have no problem considering them authentic and accurate. But because their subject is of a spiritual nature, we are not going to accept the facts as we have them; we are going to rewrite the facts to fit our own views.
That is why men like J. Dominic Crossman and Bart Ehrman are so intent of dismantling the New Testament. It is not that they can’t see the evidence; it is that they refuse to accept the evidence, because it doesn’t fit with their chosen beliefs.
Here’s what I know: How we behave plays a huge role in what we believe. Most people don’t reject the Bible for intellectual reasons; they reject it for behavioral reasons, then construct intellectual arguments for their rejection.
I find today that most people who reject the Bible base their opinion of the Bible on the fictional writings of Dan Brown’s, “The DaVinci Code,” rather than the factual writings of the scholars.
Here’s my question for you: Don’t you owe it to yourself to at least look at the writings of the New Testament on the off chance that they may be true? If what these writers claim is true, your eternal destination is at stake.
Personally, I think you are too valuable to shrug all of this off without first looking at the claims for yourself. Having done that, you may choose to disbelieve it, but at least it would be a decision based on your firsthand reading than the opinion of others.
You may argue that you don’t read the Bible because you don’t believe the Bible. Let me ask you, what do you read because you believe it? Nothing; you read something then make up your mind whether or not you believe it.
You owe it to yourself to at least know what you are rejecting. Eternity could very well be at stake.
John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.