Is the Bible the word of God? Can we know for a certainty that "all scripture is breathed out by God" (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV), or given through God's "inspiration" (KJV)? Are the things we read in the Bible reliable insofar as being a trustworthy record of what God wants us to know of his nature, his activities and his will for his creation? Can we know the writers of these materials didn't just make them up and that they aren't just a bunch of largely unbelievable stories?
Sadly, some people answer "no" to these questions. Some don't believe in the Bible as God’s word. Attitudes range all the way from those who find it hard to believe, but are willing for others to have faith, to some who so radically deny any divine authorship that they do all they can to discourage others in having any such confidence. In fact, although there have always been those who reject the Bible's reliability and authority, it seems that the last few years have seen an increase in those vocal in their opposition.
As we try to understand this skepticism and unbelief in the Bible's reliability, it will help to realize that it is often based on some fundamental misconceptions about the nature of man and of the Bible. Not every doubter will suggest all of these, but some do.
1. "Mankind is getting progressively better and better" in his moral and ethical nature.
This idea is due, in part, to the concepts of Darwinian evolutionary theory, specifically the concept of the "survival of the fittest." Man's progress makes it necessary for us to progressively shed old ideas and standards. Some insist there is nothing higher than man in the universe on which we can (or should) rely.
But an honest evaluation of history shows that man isn't improving in his basic nature. Advances in our knowledge and understanding of our world, and the resultant changes in our lifestyles and so forth, say nothing about our moral and ethical nature.
2. The Bible is opposed to intellectualism.
Many believe the Bible is opposed to rational thought. Even some Christians insist that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. But, contrary to this, the Bible demands a logical faith, based on evidence. Even though we don't understand everything, Bible faith doesn't exclude knowledge. In fact, "faith comes from hearing" (Romans 10:17), which implies some level of understanding.
3. "The Bible doesn’t consider the whole man."
This simply isn't true. Scripture, in fact, gives us the only right view of man's nature as created by God. We consist of body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and all three are important to God.
4. "Christianity is concerned only with life after death."
No, the Bible is clearly concerned with the quality of life here — but it doesn't emphasize this world to the exclusion of the next.
5. "There is little evidence of the Bible being given by God."
Some claim the Bible is a product of man's dishonest attempt to promote religious fraud. Frankly, if it isn't what it claims to be, it certainly is the world's greatest fraud. But centuries of honest internal and external examination continue to demonstrate its genuineness. Consider just two lines of evidence:
• The unity of its materials, even though written by dozens of men (about 40), from widely differing circumstances, over some 1,500 years. Its noncontradictory nature strongly suggests a single source of divine nature.
• The fulfillment of its prophecies on a wide range of matters. An informed examination of this aspect of the scriptures demonstrates a miraculous connection between Bible prophecy and its fulfillment.
Much more can be suggested that proves to open minds the inspiration of the Bible. Of course, our confidence in its origin must lead us to increase our familiarity with it and our daily application of it to our lives. Only in this way can God's word lead us to life everlasting.