Can you trust the Bible? You probably heard people saying you should not trust the Bible because:
- It is self-contradictory
- It disputes proven scientific claims
- It is useless in the 21st Century
- We do not have the original manuscripts
They are four reasons you should trust the Bible; inspiration, authority, canonicity and trustworthy (infallible, truthful and inerrant). Following expert tips, this articles expands on these four primary reasons.
Poor access to internet? No problem download Why You Can Trust the Bible as a PDF for offline reading.
- The Problem with the Bible: Beth Felker Jones
- The Bible is Trustworthy Because Christ is Trustworthy: Kristen Wetherell
- Christ Believed the OT was Inspired: John Piper
- The Bible Does Not Contradict: Andreas Köstenberger
- The Bible is Culturally Relevant: Tim Keller
- The Bible is Inspired by God: JI Packer
- The Bible has Authority from God: James N. Anderson
- The Canonicity of the Bible: Tim Challies
- The Bible is Accurate and Historical: Justin Holcomb
- The Bible was Transmitted Faithfully: Brett Kunkle
- The Bible Is Often Translated Faithfully: Jonathan K. Dodson
- The Unity of the Bible Message: Adrian Rodgers
- The Unity of The Bible Authors: David Qaoud
- Textual variants of the Bible Preserve Primary Doctrines: Matt Waymeyer
- The Early Church Recognized the Bible: Darrell Bock
Beth Felker Jones (Ph.D., Duke) is associate professor of theology at Wheaton College. She has written written several books, including The Marks of His Wounds and Touched by a Vampire.
Scripture has been used to validate abuse, and Christians often disagree about the meaning of Scripture. We also misinterpret Scripture, and much of the history of Christian theology involves correcting mistaken readings of the Bible. The interpretations of Scripture found in the writings of the early church heretics, the torturers of the inquisition, or evangelical slaveholders during the Civil War provide examples of such bad readings.
The discipline of theology is about learning to read Scripture more faithfully. It is also about speaking the truth of Scripture in ways that fit new contexts, new times, and new places. It is true that human beings are very talented at using reason, tradition, and experience to support our own sins. It is also true that reading Scripture well is very hard work.
Kristen Wetherell is a writer, Bible teacher, and the content manager of Unlocking the Bible.
Reading the book Confident: Why We Can Trust the Bible (Christian Focus Publications, 2015) affirmed for me what our number one reason is for taking the Bible at its word and taking God at his Word: Jesus. The Son of God held Scripture in the greatest esteem, believing that it perfectly revealed God’s character, as well as his ultimate redemption story for mankind through the saving gospel.
So, if a person’s identity and authority affect how much credibility we give to their words, then it follows that who we say Jesus is will affect how we trust the Bible. If Jesus is God — who humbly became flesh, lived a spotless life, died on the cross, and resurrected — and not just a good teacher or wise guru, then we will want to give weight to what he believed about God’s Word.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
With my knowledge of Christ and his will and his vision of the world expanded by the witness of Paul I turn to the gospels to listen to their witness to Christ and to hear his own words in their witness, and I find there the same self-authenticating Christ who won my allegiance in the gospel and in Paul.
And I find that this Christ vindicated his own life and ministry on the basis of the truth and authority of the Old Testament. So, through him I yield to the inspiration of the Old Testament and approach it with my heart open to hear God through it.
- Jesus believed the Psalmist spoke by the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:35).
- Jesus believed that what Moses wrote in the law God himself said (Genesis 2:23, Matthew 5:17-18).
- Jesus believed that the small affirmations of Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:33-36).
- Jesus taught that Moses’ writings are to be believed (John 5:46).
- Jesus devoted his life to fulfilling the Scriptures about the Messiah (Luke 18:31, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 4:16-21, Mark 9:11-13, Mark 14:21, John 3:18, Mark 14:27, Matthew 26:53, Luke 24:25)
Andreas Köstenberger serves as senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In God’s sovereign providence we’ve been given multiple Gospels “according to” Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in order to provide us with a diversity of perspectives that can legitimately be viewed as complementary rather than contradictory…
But I would also say, no, phenomena such as translation from Aramaic to Greek, paraphrase of Jesus’ exact words to convey the essence of what he said, and varying degrees of detail given by the respective biblical writers, to name but a few, don’t necessarily prove that Scripture is “imperfect” in a way that renders Scripture inaccurate if not contradictory.
It does not help to confuse the human phenomena of Scripture with its “imperfection.” The problem with entering [Christians] (such as myself years ago) is not that they’re faced with an imperfect Bible but that their expectations at the outset are often inadequately informed. Just because the Bible involves translation and testimonies doesn’t make it imperfect!
The Bible is “imperfect” only when measured by the unwarranted expectation that the Gospels convey to us Jesus’ words in the original language and that all four Gospels agree word for word.
Tim Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, New York. He is also the co-founder and vice president of the Gospel Coalition.
Let me ask you a question: If you’re offended by something in the Bible, why should your cultural sensibilities trump everybody else’s? Why should we get rid of the Bible because it offends your culture?
Let’s do a thought experiment for a second. If the Bible really was the revelation of God, and, therefore, it wasn’t the product of any one culture, wouldn’t it contradict every culture at some point? Therefore, if it’s really from God, wouldn’t it have to offend your cultural sensibilities at some point?
Therefore, when you read the Bible, and you find some part of it outrageous and offensive, that’s proof that it’s probably true, that it’s probably from God. It’s not a reason to say the Bible isn’t God’s Word; it’s a reason to say it is. What makes you think that because this part or that part of God’s Word is offensive, you can forget Christianity altogether?
J. I. Packer;(DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College.
The theological basis of biblical inspiration is the gracious condescension of God, who, having made men capable of receiving, and responding to, communications from other rational beings, now deigns to send him verbal messages, and to address and instruct him in human language.
The paradigm of biblical inspiration (not from the standpoint of its literal types or of its psychological modes, which were manifold, but simply from the standpoint of the identity which it effects between God’s word and man’s) is the prophetic sermon, with its introductory formula, ‘Thus saith the Lord’. The significance of biblical inspiration lies in the fact that the inspired material stands for all time as the definitive expression of God’s mind and will, His knowledge of reality, and His thoughts, wishes, and intentions regarding it.
Inspiration thus produces the state of affairs which Warfield (echoing Augustine) summed up in the phrase: What Scripture says, God says. Whatever Scripture is found to teach must be received as divine instruction. This is what is primarily meant by calling it the Word of God.
James N. Anderson is Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte.
The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore, it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.
The point here is that the Bible has intrinsic authority precisely because it is the Word of God. It doesn’t depend on some higher authority to certify or validate it, simply because there is no higher authority than God. But still the question arises: How do we come to know that the Bible is the Word of God? How do we come to know that it isn’t a merely human book, but rather divinely inspired?
… Nevertheless, the decisive factor in our coming to know that the Bible is the Word of God is an internal work of the Holy Spirit in our minds and in our hearts.
Tim Challies worship and serve as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, and co-founded Cruciform Press.
If we look at the canon of a man like John Piper, we would say that it includes Desiring God, The Passion of Jesus Christ, Don’t Waste Your Life and so on, from the first book he wrote to the last. The canon of John Piper would only be complete when it included every word he had ever written. But who can infallibly know a person’s canon?
In truth, only the author really knows what he or she has written. John Piper may have many books available to us, but who is to say that every word of his has been made available to us? Who is to say that he has not released other books under a pseudonym? Only he infallibly knows his canon. Similarly, it is only God who infallibly knows all He has written.
The Scriptural evidence compels us to believe, then, that if we have the complete canon, God helped people find out what it includes. When the Bible was compiled into the book we know and love today, it represented every word God had ever written. So, there is a sense in which the primary task of the men who compiled the Bible was to find the complete canon of God. The primary measure they used was whether a book was inspired by God.
Justin Holcomb is an Episcopal priest and a theology professor at Reformed Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Because of who God is, and because of what God has done to preserve his Word, we have confidence the events described in Scripture are accurate and historical.
This is important because Christianity, unique among world religions, depends on historical events: particularly Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Scripture tell us this account, revealing Christianity’s climax—its central, historical, and verifiable event: God’s gracious act of bringing salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ.
Brett Kunkle is the Student Impact Director at Stand to Reason. He is passionate about seeing students and adults “transformed by the renewing of their minds.”
First, the New Testament message was not transmitted orally, a mode of communication that is easier to distort. Instead, it was handed down in writing. Second, there was not a singular line of transmission—that is, it was not the case that a single individual passed the message to another individual who passed the message to a different individual and so on.
Rather, there were many lines as one letter was copied multiple times and copies were copied multiple times, eventually resulting in a host of manuscript copies. Third, historians do not rely on the last person in line but look for earlier sources much closer to the original. Finally, original letters could be consulted, even after several generations of copies.
Jonathan K. Dodson (M.Div, Th.M) is the founding pastor of City Life Church in Austin, TX which he started with his wife, Robie, and a small group of people.
When someone asserts that the Bible says errors, we can reply by saying: “Yes, our Bible translations do have errors, let me tell you about them. But as you can see, less than 1% of them are meaningful and those errors don’t affect the major teachings of the Christian faith.
In fact, there are 1000 times more manuscripts of the Bible than the most documented Greco-Roman historian by Suetonius. So, if we’re going to be skeptical about ancient books, we should be 1000 times more skeptical of the Greco-Roman histories. The Bible is, in fact, incredibly reliable.”
Contrary to popular assertion, that as time rolls on we get further and further away from the original with each new discovery, we actually get closer and closer to the original text. As Wallace puts it, we have “an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the biblical documents.”
Therefore, we can be confident that what we read in our modern translations of the ancient texts is approximately 99% accurate. It is very reliable.
The late Adrian Rodgers served as the Senior Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church of Memphis, Tennessee.
Think about this. They came from all backgrounds: some were shepherds, and some were kings; some were soldiers, and others were princes; some were fishermen; some were scholars; some were historians; some were professional men, and some were common laborers.
And the Bible is written in different styles and in at least three different languages. But when you bring all that together, it makes one book that has one story beginning with Genesis and going through Revelation.
- The Bible has one theme—redemption.
- The Bible has one hero—the Lord Jesus.
- The Bible has one villain—the devil.
- The Bible has one purpose—the glory of God!
David Qaoud is a husband, writer, and blogger from St. Louis, MO. David is also an M.Div. student at Covenant Theological Seminary.
“If you do not believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, if you do not believe that the Bible is of a supernatural origin, then I challenge you to a test.” I said to the student, “I challenge you to go to any library in the world, you can choose any library you like, and find 66 books which match the characteristics of the 66 books in the Bible. You must choose 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, written on 3 different continents. However, they must share a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message, with no historical errors or contradictions.”
I went on to say, “If you can produce such a collection of books, I will admit that the Bible is not the inspired word of God.” The student’s reply was almost instantaneous, he emphatically stated, “But that’s impossible!”
Matt teaches hermeneutics and Greek at The Expositor’s Bible Seminary in Jupiter, FL.
No major doctrine of the Christian faith is affected in any significant way by a viable textual variant. For this reason, even though one cannot have absolute certainty regarding some of the textual variants, he can have confidence in the overall reliability of the New Testament. However, for those who are still unsettled by the remaining margin of error, D.A. Carson draws a helpful analogy:
In my judgment, the degree of uncertainty raised by textual questions is a great deal less than the degree of uncertainty raised by hermeneutical questions. In other words, even when the text is certain there is often an honest difference of opinion among interpreters as to the precise meaning of the passage.
Few evangelicals, I would like to think, will claim infallibility for their interpretations of the Scriptures; they are prepared to live with the (relatively) small degree of uncertainty raised by such limitations. The doubt raised by textual uncertainties, I submit, is far, far smaller.
Darrell Bock (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.
The New Testament came to be recognized over a period of several centuries. The church did not choose the books of the New Testament. The use of books over time commended certain works over others. Athanasius gives us our earliest list of the 27 books in the AD 367, while Origen (c AD 250) may have mentioned all of them a century earlier (though there is debate whether he named the book of Revelation as manuscripts differ on this point).
Either way, the core of the New Testament was functioning as canon by the end of the second century as other evidence shows. At that time, Irenaeus and the Muratorian Canon mention the core of the New Testament, noting the four gospels Acts, the Pauline Epistles, I Peter, and I John. These were the books that had apostolic roots and that churches in many distinct regions were using.