Is the Bible Trustworthy?

Carol says:

When I came back to Christianity as an adult, I came across many different versions of bibles.  I could not understand why they were written in so many different styles and ways if it was the one true word of God.  As many people were illiterate thousands of years ago, how could it be that the bible was written in so much detail and in so many interpretations?  Where is the proof that events in the Old Testament existed – some of the stories in there seem to be so far-fetched and unreal, especially events such as people living for hundreds of years which, despite modern science and healthcare, they can’t even do now? How do we know that such words were spoken by Jesus, the disciples or others whose speech is recorded in the bible, and over what time-span?  What historical evidence do we have that any of the bible contents actually happened apart from having faith that they did?  I still do not know the answers to many such basic questions and it would be good if Graham could enlighten me with knowledge in these areas.

Carol your question is a very relevant one concerning the validity of the Bible as a historical religious text and as a source of guidance for personal worship and Godly living. In a modern age that contains fake news, which is nothing new, there has always been a challenge that the Bible is not historical or true and yes certain texts are difficult to believe and may be considered to be far-fetched!  

The creation narrative in Genesis had been accepted as a starting point for human existence and living for many years. However, since the Renaissance (15 -16th century) and Enlightenment (17- 18th century) culture, art, science and many others humanities have placed the important of humankind over the centrality of God in modern living and so challenged biblical teaching and its authenticity on many fronts.

There is the argument that if aspects of the Bible are not proven scientifically then it cannot be believed at all! At this point we have to understand that science and faith are different mind-sets and will clash but also can sit side by side respectfully. In our daily living we have to realise that theory, fact, faith and fantasy are woven together in all our thoughts.

From the beginning of time stories of creation and spiritual guidelines have been shared orally and in a written form. For the Christian the main source for their faith is found in the Bible that includes the Old and the New Testaments. All world religions have some form of holy writings that have come from an individual or collective group that seeks to offer an understanding about creation, forgiveness, holy living on earth with a hope of eternal life to come. Those who do not follow any religious pathway will certainly embrace another form of guidance for earthly living as represented in humanistic and political ideologies.

In the Old Testament we read about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Moses and how the nation of Israel came into being. Such stories recorded in Hebrew, may be considered as being far-fetched but there can be no denying the historical existence of an ancient and modern Israel. We read about the historical kings such as Saul and David living in Jerusalem and the development of ancient Israel. There are many prophets and individual writers that have shared wisdom literature and have referenced how different kingdoms within the Old Testament have lived and faded. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls it has given weight to other manuscripts, textual criticism and archaeological findings to affirm the authenticity of the bible.   

In the New Testament Jesus cannot be disputed as an historical figure yet many would doubt his claim to be the Son of God and that his death and resurrection enables believers to experience the forgiveness of sins before a Holy God.  When we read the quoted words of Jesus in the gospels we may wonder if each one is totally true. Overall the aim of the writers would have been to convey the truth and meaning of his words. Over the years various methods of translation from Hebrew to Greek and then into English have taken place resulting in different versions of the bible. Such forms of communication and translation include: Word for word, Literal, Faithful, Semantic, Flexible, Idiomatic, Adaptive and Free communication all seeking to ensure that original words are translated into modern understanding.

There was a special relationship between God and the people of Israel as witnessed in their covenant love. However, it was often broken and so through the life and ministry of Jesus a new covenant was established that included the Jewish nation and all none Jews who are known as Gentiles. The church represents that new community and all the New Testament writers offer instruction, on the basis of Jesus’ teaching, about how best to engage in worship, fellowship and community living.

So can we trust the bible we read today?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In Hebrew 4:12 it gives us an indication that the bible is big enough to defend itself and be considered trustworthy, not in a scientific manner, but from a point of personal faith and belief, ”the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,”   

In Isaiah 55: 9, it says “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”.  Then from verse 11: “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”.

So Carol whether we believe that the Bible is true or false we have to consider that it is a body of literature that represents God speaking directly to the world about personal worship and devotion and offers a basis for Godly living for the enjoyment and care for the world and its environment.

For further reading check out my site insights from the bible

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10 thoughts on “Is the Bible Trustworthy?

  1. Hello Carol

    “Is the Bible Trustworthy?! I would say Yes

    We have our Bible, written over 4000 years, by over 40 different authors and all fit beautifully together.

    Just to focus on the four gospels, for now, we notice that they are four different portraits of the same accounts of the life death and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew is written to a Jewish audience and has its genealogy. Mark is a fast pace gospel and probably used sources from the other gospel writers to form his gospel. Luke gives us his presentation of Jesus as the Saviour or the world and is in some ways autobiographical. It is also thematic. John’s gospel gives us a prologue, 7 specific miracles, 8 including the resurrection. The “I am” statements are in there also and at the end, you see the wonderful verse, These things are written so that you may believe and in believing have life in his name

    All gospels tell of the resurrection of Christ and all tell of the feeding of the 5000 but slightly different accounts. The slightly different accounts do not contradict but complement the account and bring depth to the story. For Example, Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law. Matthew tells us that it was a fever, Luke being the doctor, tells us that it was a high fever.

    I used to work for the court service. One day I was working with Judge Peter Main QC. His matter that day was a road traffic accident. The claimant’s evidence had dovetailed nicely together, it compared and contrasted well and gave you a fuller picture of what had happened. The defendant’s statements and there were four lads in the car, each statement was the same word for word. They had effectively sat in front of the word processor and agreed on what to say, to make their story stick. The Judge threw out the defence because as he said – all four statements were the same and smacked of collusion They had just topped and tailed statements and presented these as evidence.

    So if the gospels had been exactly the same they would have made very boring reading and would have sounded as if they had colluded together to make the story fit and to make the accounts fit. This would not have been acceptable to any reader Difference in account and detail does not make the account incorrect, it makes it authentic and real.

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    • Hi Ian – Thanks so much for your contribution to the website and this article in particular.

      My problem with the bible has always been that I like to see physical evidence of what was said. From what I gather, there is very little of this remaining, with the exception of the Dead Sea scrolls. With the bible being written over such a long time-span and by so many authors, with various translations, it’s accuracy worries me, although I bow to far greater authorities than myself as to it’s authenticity.

      I know exactly what you mean about the statements. In a previous career working in police public relations, I worked closely with journalists and wrote press releases in connection with crime prevention and other campaigns and events we were running. I have also carried out similar work on a voluntary basis with local community groups. Many is the time I have seen press cuttings relating to the press releases I have sent out and many a time they have been mis-quoted and misinterpreted – and that’s with the modern technology we have now, never mind what the limitations were in biblical times.

      Maybe in time the archeologists will find more written proof which will put paid to some of the doubts. For my part, I believe there are so many lessons which can be learnt from the bible and applied to our modern-day lives. It gives us a framework to live by. On a personal level, I really enjoy reading three daily devotionals, including those of Carole Crossley, and often find them amazingly accurate to my own life. They are mostly very uplifting spiritually and give very wise advice and counsel.

      If you are able and interested enough, we would really welcome any contribution you might like to make to our “From the Heart” section which is mostly about people’s own personal faith journey.

      Thank you so much for your interest.
      Regards
      Carol

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  3. Hello Carol

    In relation to physical evidence we have of course the Dead Sea skulls and there is a parchment or piece of parchment in in the John Rylands Library that you can take a look at which is a fragment of John’s Gospel

    When I heard the judgement by Judge Peter main QC my mind went back to a book by Frank Morrison he was a lawyer who said out to disprove the Resurrection of Christ and came back convinced of the Resurrection of Christ because as he said when he read the Gospels they were I witness reports they had a lot of content which said that they saw they observed and they took part and the major Factor is is that the accounts concurred with each other what did not contradict each other

    I think in relation to physical evidence sometimes the proof is in the pudding and if you see somebody whose life has been changed buy the Christian Faith then you can see the evidence there that they have been changed and that can be very physical in changes in the lifestyle

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    • Hi Ian – many thanks for your response and for taking an interest in our website. I feel that people come to faith from many different avenues and often through some sort of personal catastrophe in their lives. We will not know for sure until we die whether Heaven does exist but I feel it is good to have a belief of some sort that guides our spirit and helps us to follow the teachings of Christ. If we can do good for other people and help our society whenever possible, that is a great way to live. I have been to John Rylands library – surely one of the most beautiful buildings in this country – and I did see the tiny piece of parchment you mentioned. I know they say that, in Egypit, there are far more tombs and historical artefacts still buried under the soil than have ever been uncovered so far so I hope that, in time, more biblical proof will be found, although funds to do this sort of research are very limited indeed, especially in poor countries. Let’s hope that further evidence is uncovered in our life-time!

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