The Bible is an ancient collection of manuscripts by different writers, that is the foundation of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, copied and passed down for thousands of years by those who wrote it on parchment generation after generation. 66 books, 40 authors. One consistent message.
The Old Testament is what God did before Jesus. The New Testament is the story of Jesus and the church movement that was born after Him. Jews accept the Old Testament. Islam gives merit to both books, but adds Mohammed’s Koran to them as the trump card—it’s the only one that’s fully reliable and authoritative. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Mormons make similar claims, saying that one later person’s writings “trump” that of the Bible and only their final book can be trusted fully. Christians believe Jesus came as the fulfillment of what God was doing among the Jews—their Messiah figure, and they reject the changes Muhammad suggested in the Koran as well as the suggested changes of other religious figures. If Jesus was the Son of God, Christians believe He and His appointed followers were fully capable of leaving us an accurate account of what He wanted us to know.
The Bible has not changed its message. We have thousands of ancient copies today—complete gospel copies from 250AD, a few hundred years after Jesus that say the same thing as our copies today. Of all the ancient documents in existence, the Bible is the most distributed, best attested, and least biased of all of them. (In comparison we have 10 copies of the Gallic Wars and 2 copies of Tacticus’ writings to use to reconstruct Roman history, and those documents come from 900 A.D. and after!) The main reason “differences” exist in the Bible manuscripts is simply due to people copying them by hand and making human mistakes—misspelling, repeating, or omitting a word. Compare for yourself if you must, but the changes you’ll find between manuscripts from 250 A.D. to the present day are trivial mistakes at best.
Three main reasons exist for why people reject the Bible as true: (1) because it contains supernatural occurrences, (2) because they disagree with its moral standards, or (3) because Christians have acted terribly toward them and they can’t trust the book because they’ve met untrustworthy people who call themselves “Christians.”
One of the reasons we choose not to believe the Bible is because we refuse to accept the fact that supernatural things can happen. We consider it false or unreliable because we haven’t seen miracles and our culture tells us they cannot happen. But if God can create this world, He can certainly do things that violate the natural order of things as we know them. You believe things without fully understanding them or having observed them. The supernatural assumption is not something difficult to overcome. You’ve accepted the fact that germs make you sick, that medicine will make you better. You’ve accepted the fact that atrocities like genocide in Rwanda and Germany have occurred, never having seen those things yourself.
Some people reject the Bible because they don’t want to feel guilt or accountability toward its moral standards. Most American’s accept the logic that sex before marriage is normal and expected. The Bible disagrees. The easiest way to avoid this conflict of options is to use any convenient excuse to dismiss the Bible as an irrelevant or untrustworthy resource.
Thirdly, many people have been hurt deeply by people who identified themselves as Christians. Priests, Pastors, and religious people do horrible things—some really do have a relationship with Christ and are being disobedient to what they believe, others are simply using religion to gain people’s trust. Either way, it hurts to have someone violate your trust in the name of religion. A Christian’s behavior breaks trust in their God, and the Bible. The most honest response we can give to this objection is, don’t just God by his followers. Even the Bible portrays Christians as highly imperfect.
The truth is, most of the Biblical authors were not writing for personal benefit. Many of them look terrible in their own accounts. From what we know from tradition, most of them died because they would not renounce what they wrote about. (consider reading passages here)
You don’t have the believe everything in the Bible to become a Christian. You don’t have to believe most of it. But you should know that it is the most distributed, best attested, and least biased of all the ancient documents we have. And it is a collect of documents that people have said draws them into an encounter with the real God for thousands of years. A document they found so important, that it has millions of copies spread all over the world, and has millions of followers today working to distribute it in every language, to every tribe, in every part of the world. It is a worthy document to trust in.
Practical Note: The Bible has been translated many times into English. There are a lot of translations out there, simply trying to explain the original writer’s thoughts with different words, for audiences at different reading levels.
Questions to Write About:
- Am I willing to trust the Bible? Why or Why not?
- What unexplainable/supernatural things have I seen happen? Do I believe these things are possible?
- If I was God, writing a book to the world, what would I put in it?
- What do I hope the Bible explains for me?