Trustworthy Bible

Yesterday was the 59th anniversary of the death of Sir Frederick Kenyon.  Kenyon was a renowned scholar of ancient languages who took a keen interest in the authenticity of the Bible.  “Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”  Kenyon’s sentiment here is often lost today, not just in the attacks of liberal scholarship, but also in the silence of Christian preachers.

Kenyon, director and head librarian of the British Museum, showed in his day how archeology and the manuscript evidence supported the credibility of the Bible.  Of course there are many others who will argue the other way, all pointing to the agendas of those on the other side.  Yet in the church today, there seems to be a paranoid silence in some quarters.

Since the Christian position is under attack from very vocal and media backed atheistic thinkers, we are increasingly huddled in church corners believing almost superstitiously in the message of the Bible.  Why?  There is more evidence for the authenticity of the Bible today than ever before!  And while we are grateful for his legacy, we don’t have to just quote Kenyon for support.

Richard Bauckham has been doing some magnificent work in recent years, and Peter Williams et al of Tyndale House are doing a good job both advancing and communicating that work.  Do the people in your church know about the integrity of the personal names used in the Gospels?  That is, a level of accuracy in name selection that would be a level of sophistication utterly unparalleld in the ancient world if it were a forgery.  Do the people in your church know about the evidences for word perfect quotation in the Gospels?  Do the people in your church know about the frequency of accurate reporting of place names, as compared to the paltry place awareness in the non-canonical gospels?  I could go on, but there is a bigger question.  Not do they know, but, do you know about these things?

As preachers we do our listeners a disservice if we simply affirm the Bible’s truth without demonstrating its trustworthiness.  By our silence we could reinforce the perception of many that the Bible is an ancient book of myths and legends that we choose to consider as “true for us.”  If we won’t demonstrate and prove and affirm and show the integrity and trustworthiness of the Bible, who will?

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If you haven’t seen it, you won’t want to miss this lecture by Dr Peter Williams on “Eyewitness Evidence

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5 thoughts on “Trustworthy Bible

  1. I never doubted it, in spite of liberal tendencies.

    A genuine dilemma of mine continues to be the evangelical focus on the Bible. Does Jesus depend on the Bible for his existence, or does the Bible depend on Jesus for its existence? If the Bible were taken away from us would Jesus cease to exist? In particular, a resurrected Jesus.

    An associated dilemma related to this is: Is our mission / God’s mission to establish the authenticity and reliability of the Bible? or is our mission the good news / gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord? In other words are we driven by apologetics, or by humble assertions or assurances?

    • Good questions Peter. Seems to me that while we are to proclaim the gospel, we also have to be alert to the sheer number of people who think faith is, by definition, going against reason. I don’t think evidential apologetics in its various guises will win hearts to Christ, but it will do a work of overcoming genuine objections and helping believers to know that they are not believing a fairy tale. Too many have bought into the “it isn’t possible to prove this, you just gotta feel it” kind of testimonies we hear from nervous young Christians. In the very act of the incarnation, God showed that we are to test the evidence and believe based on the facts. The Christian faith is highly credible,and perhaps many younger Christians wouldn’t run aground on the lightweight sophistication they meet when they encounter “thinkers” away from home, if we were able to get them well rooted in the local church setting. Just a couple of incomplete thoughts from me . . .

      • Thank you Peter for pointing me in the direction of the incarnation.

        I think the incarnation neatly encapsulates my dilemma. If the written revelation is sufficient then why was there the need for a living revelation?

        I am afraid it is much easier – for me – to discuss and debate the written revelation than it is to get close to the living revelation. I find it much less demanding.

        Paul also wrote to the Corinthians:
        “who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (ESV)

        Thank you too, Steve, for your notes below.

        PS: I trust your time with the folk in Holland is encouraging, enabling and edifying to both you and them. Did you know that you can download the ESV for free in Kindle from Amazon. Rhetorical, no reply expected.

    • Hi Peter McCallum, I can appreciate your dilemma and your questions are very good ones. Certainly we know that Jesus does not depend upon the Bible for his existence for He is the eternally existent God of the universe with or without the Bible. And yes, the BIble depends upon Jesus as the Second member of the Trinity for its existence, for it is God’s Trinitarian revelation of Himself to mankind. Psalm 19 communicates this quite well as we see that general revelation gives us basic information about God and His glorious power, apart from written word of God there is no possibility of the knowledge of God that brings conversion and regeneration. So to answer your associated dilemma, as to whether our mission is to establish the authenticity of the Bible or to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord? The answer is yes to both question. We do preach Jesus Christ as Lord as found in the written Word of God which is the authentic revelation of the Person of the Son and we do attempt to establish the authenticity of the scriptures through our preaching. I think that the Apostle Paul says it well in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 where he writes that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.” Paul’s point is that the scriptures were authentic and reliable and it is in them that we find out the good news that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead revealing that He truly is the Lord. If this message is untrue and we have only hoped in Christ only in this life, then we are most to be pitied. But we have the whole Canon of scriptures which reveal the plan of God to redeem the whole of creation and bring all things back together under the Lordship of Christ. That is why it is essential that people come to believe the message that Jesus is Lord and the scriptures verify this message. It is in the authority and authenticity of the scriptures that we can even preach the good news.
      Sincerely Steve Scansen

      New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (1 Co 15:3–19). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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