The following email has been circulating on the Internet recently. I have no idea where it came from or who wrote it. If the first paragraph is true, it was somebody speaking at an anonymous university.
The Truth About the Bible
During a question and answer session at a recent speaking engagement, a university student asked me, “Why do you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God?”
Now this is a very interesting question, and probably one of the most important questions any Christian could ask themselves. What is so special, so unique about the Bible that Christians believe it is literally the inspired word of God? In answering this student’s question, I encouraged him to consider the following facts about the Bible. First, the Bible is not just one single book. This is a more common misconception than many people realize, especially with people who do not come from a Judeo-Christian background. Rather than being a single book, the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, which is called the canon of scriptures. These 66 books contain a variety of genres: history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, letters, and apocalyptic, just to name a few.
Second, these 66 books were written by 40 different authors. These authors came from a variety of backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, and others. And most of these authors never knew one another personally.
Third, these 66 books were written over a period of 1,500 years. Yet again, this is another reminder that many of these authors never knew or collaborated with one another in writing these books.
Fourth, the 66 books of the Bible were written in 3 different languages. In the Bible we have books that were written in the ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; a reflection of the historical and cultural circumstances in which each of these books were written.
And finally, these 66 books were written on 3 different continents: Africa , Asia , and Europe . Once again, this is a testament to the varied historical and cultural circumstances of God’s people.
Think about the above realities: 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1,500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents. What’s more, this collection of books shares a common storyline – the creation, fall, and redemption of God’s people; a common theme – God’s universal love for all of humanity; and a common message – salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength.
In addition to sharing these commonalities, these 66 books contain no historical errors or contradictions. God’s word truly is an amazing collection of writings!
After I had shared the above facts with this student, I offered him the following challenge. “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 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 1,500 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!”
It truly is impossible, for any collection of human writings. However, the Bible passes this test. The Bible contains 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1,500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents, with no historical errors or contradictions. The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, bears the mark of Divine inspiration.
The next time you encounter someone who asks you why you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, try sharing this challenge with them. Better yet, don’t wait until you’re asked, just go ahead and share this challenge with a friend today. You don’t even have to mention the Bible up front, just ask them if they think it would be realistic to assemble such a collection of books. After they say, “But that’s impossible!” you’ve got a ready-made opportunity for sharing the truth of God’s word with somebody!
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It’s easy to make all the claims a person wants to, but it takes more time and effort to refute them. Thankfully, Dawkins and Huddlestun do part of it for me. But here are a few of my own thoughts.
>First, the Bible is not just one single book. . . . the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, which is called the canon of scriptures.
Not true. The Bible is a collection of 66 documents. Not books. Somebody just chose to call them books. About half the New Testament is composed of personal letters, mostly written by or for a guy named Paul, who called himself an Apostle of Jesus. He wrote some of these letters to his friends and some to various churches that looked to him for leadership. Some were as short as a single page. Some books!
>These 66 books contain a variety of genres: history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, letters, and apocalyptic, just to name a few.
So what? They were selected from the writings of at least 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years, after all. Wouldn’t you expect them to be diverse?
>Second, these 66 books were written by 40 different authors. These authors came from a variety of backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, and others.
Again, so what?
>And most of these authors never knew one another personally.
Since the writings span a period of 1,500 years, it would be somewhat unusual if all the authors knew each other.
>Third, these 66 books were written over a period of 1,500 years.
Again, so what?
>However, they must share a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message, with no historical errors or contradictions.
Give me a break! We’ve already agreed it took 1,500 years to collect these documents. With that much time, it should be easy to collect 66 documents with “a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message.” It’s that last part that’s a problem.
>The Bible contains . . . no historical errors or contradictions.
This is simply not true. Watch the video. Most of the history of Genesis and Exodus appears to be pure fiction. And that’s just for starts. There is no evidence the Israelites were ever slaves of the Egyptians, much less that they were led to freedom by a hero named Moses, who parted the Red Sea for them. No evidence that Abraham, Moses, and many other Bible characters ever even lived.
There was a man named Jesus who was crucified by the Romans about the right time. The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, writing around 60 years after his death, mentions several men named Jesus, one of whom was said to be “a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate.” One of them, possibly the same one, is said to have had a brother named James. He also mentions John the Baptist. But we know almost nothing else about Jesus apart from the New Testament itself.
One would think writers all over the Roman Empire would have written about this man who is said to have healed the sick, the blind, and the deaf, who raised the dead, and who himself was also raised from the dead. Who, in fact, according to the Apostle Paul, was seen by more than 500 witnesses at one time after his resurrection. One would expect excited stories about this man all over the place, but there are none from his own time and almost none for several centuries afterward. In all of history, there is almost zero confirmation of anything about the story of Jesus.
And we haven’t even gotten to contradictions yet. There are way too many to go into here. We’ll talk about them another day soon.