Many who disbelieve the Bible’s claims to be the word of God raise objections. Often, these objections are raised sincerely by people seeking the truth. Whether sincere or not, the objections merit a response. Following are the first of eight common objections. The rest are featured in a future post.
Objection 1: No one really knows what the Bible says because the original manuscripts are lost.
Response: True, the “autographs” no longer exist, but a remarkable number of copies do. No other book from the ancient world has more, earlier, or better-copied manuscripts than the Bible. Nearly 5,800 Greek, 10,000 Latin, and 10,000-15,000 other early versions of the New Testament are in existence, some dating to within a generation of the originals. Compare this with fewer than 1,800 copies of Homer’s Iliad, with the earliest copies dating 400 years after the original.
Objection 2: The Bible has been copied so many times, with so many variations, there’s no way to know what was originally scripted.
Response: While it’s true there are variations among the manuscripts – 150,000 by some counts – the vast majority have to do with changes in spelling, grammar, and style, or accidental omissions or duplications of words or phrases. Only about 400 variants in the New Testament manuscripts have any significant bearing on the meaning of the passage, and most of these are noted in the footnotes or margins of modern translations and editions of Scripture. The only textual variants that affect more than a sentence or two are John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20.
Objection 3. The books of the Bible were chosen arbitrarily by councils of men in highly political processes. As a result, they left out some very good books – perhaps some equally inspired writings.
Response: These oft-repeated charges are unfounded. They deny the supernatural inspiration and preservation of Scripture and instead emphasize the efforts of men who, it is argued, wanted only to maintain control over the early church. In truth, the Holy Spirit authored Scripture through the pens of human agents, managed its preservation, and decided which books belonged in the canon (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Councils of Christian leaders met in the fourth century and made important decisions about the New Testament based on evidence supporting the books’ inspiration and authority, but in no way did they undermine God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture. The God who hangs the stars in space and calls them by name (Isa. 40:26) has no problem guiding the means by which His very words are given to His most precious creation: mankind.
Objection 4: It’s silly to assume that one book – the Bible – contains all of God’s truth and that other great writings, from the Vedas to the Book of Mormon, do not come from God.
Response: We must begin with the claims of the documents themselves. The Bible specifically and repeatedly declares itself to be the written Word of God, while the Vedas do not. Even the Book of Mormon is called “another testament of Jesus Christ,” dangerously ignoring a biblical mandate not to add to or take away from the Scriptures (Rev. 22:18-19). While many religious writings contain moral and ethical truths, some of which are consistent with Scripture, only the Bible claims to be God’s written and complete revelation to mankind. The Bible’s claim to be the Word of God is backed up by unparalleled textual, archaeological, and historical evidence. Most compelling, however, is the testimony of the Holy Spirit, who authored the Scriptures and who confirms in our human spirits the truth of God’s Word.
Next: Part 2: Objections 5-8