I had Mark as a student in his first semester in college. He took my New Testament Survey class as one of his required general education classes. I think he earned an A, but I never saw him again—until minutes after his graduation, four years later.
We had just endured a horridly hot Southern California graduation ceremony. It went on far too long considering the fact that we were clothed in those ridiculous long black gowns and funny black hats. I rushed back to my office, ripping off the gown as I ran, anxious to start my summer vacation. A knock on my door delayed my escape.
Mark’s face was flushed red, sweating, and at first he was unable to speak in complete sentences. But he wasn’t hot. He was terrified. “The Bible’s true, isn’t it? I think, maybe … Why do we think …” The sentence fragments piled up until I realized that he was asking why he should think the Bible was true. He was heading out of the cocoon of a Christian liberal arts university education, and now had to face the world. Thinking about that made him realize he didn’t know what he believed, or why.
I thought to myself, why hadn’t he asked these questions earlier when he had Christian professors and Christian friends to walk with him and help him process the answers. And that’s when I realized I had not sufficiently challenged him—or even told him why I think the Bible is reliable.
After he left, I sat down and got out my old college notes. I reflected a bit on why I believed the Bible and why I had failed, in Mark’s case, to help him come to the same conclusion I had come to. I thought about my time with Craig and Darrell, and how it was all part of the Lord’s plan to help me think through for myself why I accept the reliability of the Bible. My hope is that my writing will have helped you as well.
So why do I trust the Bible? I always start with the Bible’s claims for itself. If the Bible never claimed to be from God, I wouldn’t say it was from God. Secondly, I trust the Bible because none of the challenges against it that we have considered are convincing. If there truly were contradictions, or evidence that the Gospel writers were not interested in history, or if I knew we had the wrong books in the Bible, or if the copies of the copies of the manuscripts of the Bible were hopelessly corrupt, then I would question the reliability of the Bible. But none of these arguments are convincing, and most are relatively easy to refute. At the end of the day, I believe that the Bible is accurate and deserves the benefit of the doubt. Yes, I still have a few questions, but for me the burden of proof is on the person who says it can’t be trusted.
I also trust the Bible because it’s the most rational choice I can make. All of us have basic assumptions that we hold about the world. These are faith assumptions, especially with regard to the possibility of the miraculous. For me the Bible provides the best answers to the questions of life. The answers it gives make sense, though I recognize that it is God’s Spirit who has helped me come to that decision. The Bible is consistent with itself and with reality, and that consistency provides a basis for believing it and trusting it.
So are you willing to take a “leap of faith” and believe that the Bible is true? That it is trustworthy? Even if you can’t prove Christianity to be true, I am glad that I don’t have to put my brain on the shelf to believe. There is a lot of evidence that it is trustworthy, but evidence can’t compel faith. We can’t prove the Bible is historically reliable in everything it says. But since the Bible has been tested and found to be reliable in so many ways, it makes sense to give Scripture the benefit of the doubt and take that leap of faith, believing the Bible is trustworthy in all that it says. Yes, there will be mysteries, but you can trust it. That has been my journey.
Lee Strobel interviewed renowned scholar and textual critic Bruce Metzger, asking him specifically about textual criticism. Strobel asked Metzger “how his many decades of intensely studying the New Testament’s text had affected his personal faith.
“It has increased the basis of my personal faith to see the firmness with which these materials have come down to us, with a multiplicity of copies, some of which are very ancient.”
“So … scholarship has not diluted your faith?”
“On the contrary, … it has built it. I’ve asked questions all my life, I’ve dug into the text, I’ve studied this thoroughly, and today I know with confidence that my trust in Jesus has been well placed .… Very well placed.”
I trust that this book has helped you answer the questions you have about the Bible in the same way. Ask the hard questions. Don’t be afraid to lean into the debate. Read other books. Watch online videos. The Bible is worthy of our trust, and it can stand up to the scrutiny. I have staked my life and my future on it; I trust you will as well.