Is the Bible the Word of God? (Part 1)

You mention repeatedly in your articles that the Bible is without any doubt "THE TRUTH" and was spoken from the creator's lips as "GOD'S WORD."…You said (and I quote): "We certainly do not want to promote as fact something we cannot prove; evolutionists seem to have a monopoly on that anyway."  How can you prove that the Bible is God's word? Isn't this what you promote as fact? Isn't it based on faith? Pure 100% faith.

The comments and questions in your e-mail illustrate an important fact about the evolution/creation debate.  The debate over origins is not just an interesting side issue that can be dismissed as unimportant.  The essence of the debate is the authority of the word of God.  Is it true or not?  If it is true then we must be accountable to the God of the Bible.

I can prove the Bible is God's word and will show that it is not based on "pure 100% faith."  In order to "prove" something is true one must establish that its truth is beyond any reasonable doubt.  The best way to do this is to examine the claims of the Bible about itself.  Before looking at what these claims are (internal evidence) it is important to first establish that the Bible is historically authentic and reliable (external evidence).  The high quantity and high degree of historical evidence for the Bible force us to consider seriously no only the events recorded in it but also the claims that it makes.

There have been over 5300 copies of the New Testament Greek manuscripts discovered, the earliest of which dates to 120 A.D.  In addition over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and 9300 other early versions of manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament exist today.  Over 8000 existing copies of early New Testament translations (e.g. Syriac, Latin and Coptic) have been found most dated in the 300's and 400's A.D.  Almost the entire New Testament could be reproduced from over 36,000 quotations by early church leaders.  For example Clement (96 A.D.), early Bishop of Rome; Ignatius (115 A.D.), Bishop of Antioch; Polycarp (120 A.D.), the Bishop of Smyrna.  Ignatius and Polycarp were both discipled by the Apostle John, who wrote more books of the New Testament than anyone except Paul.

No other ancient document even begins to approach the numbers of the New Testament.  The Iliad by Homer is second with only 643 manuscripts and the first complete preserved text dates to the 13th century.  F.F. Bruce compares the New Testament to other ancient historical writings: "For Caesar's Gallic Wars (composed between 58 and 50 B.C.) there are several extant MSS, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some 900 years later than Caesar's day.  Of the 142 books of the Roman history of Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17), only 35 survive…  Of the 14 books of the Histories of Tacitus (ca A.D. 100) only four and a half survive; of the books of his Annals, 10 survive in full and two in part." 

The continuity of the Bible is itself proof of its veracity.  The harmony of the Biblical authors is overwhelming considering the controversial subjects contained, the number and variety of authors and the time span in which it was written.  The Bible was written over a 1500 year span over 40 generations.  God used over forty authors from many walks of life: kings, fisherman, a doctor (Luke), a tax collector (Matthew), a military leader (Joshua), etc.  It was written on three continents during periods of war and peace.   It was written in three languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic) and in different places: John on the isle of Patmos, Paul in prison, Luke while traveling, Jeremiah in a dungeon and Moses in the wilderness.  Even though the Bible was written in many different literary styles, (poetry, historical narratives, parables, allegories, etc.) it shows remarkable consistency throughout.

An honest look at the evidence presented here confirms that the Bible is trustworthy and reliable.  Much more evidence is worthy of mentioning like the fulfillment of the Bible's prophesies and the confirmation from archeology.  Once the authenticity of the Bible is shown "externally" then an honest observer must examine the claims of the Bible and the implication of the claim that the Bible is the word of God. 

Therefore, after building this foundation, I will specifically answer your question about why the Bible is in fact the word of God in a later column.

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen