In a previous post, we shared four common objections to the Bible. Here, we respond to four additional objections.
Objection 5: The Bible is full of contradictions.
Response: Not so. Consider these guidelines for dealing with Bible difficulties: 1) logic and reason – examine the Bible like other documents; 2) translation – consider the nuances between various English versions; 3) time – some seemingly contradictory statements are separated by years and must be seen in their proper time frames; 4) context – study the chapters and books in which apparent contradictions occur; 5) sense – words and phrases may be used literally or figuratively; 6) quotations – many Old Testament passages are paraphrased or summarized in the New Testament; 7) perspective – when two or more writers provide separate accounts of the same events, differences in names, numbers, and conversations may be accounted for by each writer’s perspective.
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.
Fiction writers like Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code) and popular scholars like Bart Ehrman (The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture) have convinced many people the New Testament is unreliable
We are led to believe that Emperor Constantine determined the New Testament canon in the fourth century; that Christian leaders, vying for power, changed the Gospels to suit their personal agendas; and that amateur copyists butchered early New Testament manuscripts.
If these charges are true, the Church today is built on the shifting sands of legend, power, and political expediency.
Fortunately, the case for the reliability of Scripture is stronger today than it has ever been, thanks in part to a 2018 Faithlife film, “Fragments of Truth.” In the film, Craig Evans of Houston Theological Seminary takes us on a global journey through time and texts.
In a previous column, we briefly examined several prophecies Jesus made concerning Himself. We presented the prophecies in the hope that our Muslim friends, who consider Jesus a great prophet but not the Son of God, would consider Jesus’ predictions, and their fulfillment, as evidence of His deity.
The traditional Muslim response to the Bible, however, is that Jews and Christians have corrupted it, so it cannot be trusted. However, this claim poses problems that begin with the Qur’an itself.
In Surah 10:94, Allah tells Muhammad, “So if you are in doubt, [O Muhammad], about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters” (Sahih International).
In addition, Surah 5:48 reads, “And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book [Qur’an] in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it …” (Sahih International).
Since the Qur’an was not collected in written form until after Muhammad’s death (AD 632), these passages clearly refer to the Old and New Testaments — specifically, the Torah (Law), Zabur (psalms), and Injil (Gospel).
So, Allah seems to be telling Muhammad to use the Bible to verify the truth claims of Islam. But if the Scriptures are corrupted, as Muslims claim, when were they corrupted?
There are only two possible answers: before the days of Muhammad, or after the days of Muhammad. Let’s explore both possibilities.
Evangelicals may disagree about many things, but we stand together on the non-negotiables that define the Christian faith: The Trinity, justification by faith, and the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, to name a few.
Many false belief systems, from Mormonism to Islam, profess a high regard for the Word of God. But, in fact, they deny its inspiration, inerrancy, or preservation and thus reject the Bible as supremely authoritative.
Specifically, false religions employ four tactics to undermine the Scriptures:
(1) They change it. The most notorious offender is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, whose members are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In the late 1800s, Charles Taze Russell launched a Bible study to spread his denials of the Trinity, Jesus’ physical resurrection, and eternal punishment of the wicked in hell, cleverly twisting the Scriptures to buttress his false teachings. Not to be outdone, his successors produced their own version of the New Testament in 1950, and the completed New World Translation (NWT) in 1961.
Revised in 1984, and again in 2013, the NWT is a sanitized version of the Bible. Six translators — only one of whom had any training in biblical languages — essentially scrubbed the deity of Christ out of passages like John 1:1, John 8:58, and Col. 1:15-17, and blurred other essential doctrines.