How Do You Know The Bible Is True?
Starting the Foundation
Proving whether something is true or not is called apologetics. This word is derived from the Greek word “apologia,” which means “to defend.” The entire Clarifying Christianity site is filled with apologeticsproofs and explanations for many Christian-related issues. The focus of this page is the proof supporting the accuracy of the Bible. After all, if the Bible is not true or if it is filled with errors, Christianity would only be a “blind faith”something people believe without any evidence to support it.
However, Christianity is not a blind faith. It is the only religion that can prove itself, and a main source of that proof is the Bible. Although it is becoming less common, there are still people who tell others that they follow Christianity “because it feels right” (or use wording like that). This is unfortunate, since there is a lot of evidence supporting Christianity. The existence of all that evidence is one reason we started this site. We want people to learn about the solid evidence that supports their faith, and have a place that collected that evidence so they can show it to others.
By the way, if you would like some reference materials that are a little more portable than a computer with an Internet connection, a book we recommend is Know Why You Believe by Paul Little. This book is available in larger bookstores and most Christian bookstores. Also, the Tucson Community Church recorded a seminar called Knowing The Facts Behind The Faith. It is available on DVD and VHS video (NTSC format). If you are interested in purchasing a copy, you can get one directly from the church that produces them at the Tucson Community Church website. They also handle international orders.
The Proof of Science
There is a great deal of scientific evidence that supports the Bible. Enough that we have a separate page to discuss this proof alone. If you would like to see our science page, click on this sentence.
The Proof of Prophecy
One of the strongest arguments for the accuracy of the Bible is its 100% accuracy in predicting the future. These future predictions are called prophecies. The Old Testament was written between approximately 1450 BC and 430 BC. During that time, many predictions of the future were recorded in the Bible by God’s prophets. Of the events that were to have taken place by now, every one happened just the way they predicted it would. No other sacred writing has such perfectly accurate predictions of the future.
One TypeThe Messianic Prophecies
Of these prophecies, the most striking examples are the predictions about an “anointed one” (“Messiah” in Hebrew) who was to arrive in the future. About 4 BC, a miraculous event occurreda boy named Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary. You can read His story in the book of Luke. Starting at age 30, Jesus fulfilled more and more of these prophecies written about the Messiah. His fulfillment of these prophecies was very spectacular: Jesus gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cured those who had leprosy, gave the deaf hearing, and raised people from the dead! These miracles and others were done many times in front of thousands of witnesses for three years. About 30 AD, Jesus was crucified (a prophecy) and died (a prophecy). Three days later he rose from the dead (another prophecy), after which He was seen by over 500 witnesses. Since these prophecies were written down at least 400 years before they happened, there is no doubt that the Bible’s writers were inspired supernaturallyby God. To examine these prophecies yourself, click on the link below.
A Second TypeFulfilled Prophecy Dealing With Nations
There are many prophecies that can be proven through archaeology, especially prophecy dealing with entire nations. Typically, when God declared judgment on a nation, He would send a prophet to announce to the citizens why He was judging them and what He was going to do to them if they continued their evil behavior. On occasion, God would also tell the citizens how He would reward them if they started doing what was right. The book of Jonah records a case where the Assyrians stopped doing what was evil as a result of Jonah’s short prophecy. This is what God wanted, and God did not punish them as a result of their change of heart. However, most often the people would jeer at God’s prophet and continue their bad behaviorlater becoming recipients of the exact punishment that God threatened.
Like other prophecy recorded in the Bible, these predictions support the supernatural inspiration of the Bible. The prophecies recorded in the Bible came true in such a detailed way that they could not have been predicted by chance. Further, archaeologists have evidence that these prophecies were written down many years before they were fulfilled, proving that they were not falsified documents claiming to be prophecies that came true. (The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls stopped the majority of that talk.) Although an entire web site could be filled with this information, we will provide one examplethe foretelling of the destruction of Edom and its capital city of Petra.
The Proof of Textual Evidence
Both the Old and New Testaments are strongly supported by manuscript evidence (the evidence of early hand written copies). The famous Dead Sea Scrolls are one example of the Old Testament evidence. These documents came from the library of a settlement founded at Qumran before 150 B.C. and abandoned about 68 A.D. Some of the manuscript copies were made during that period, and some were written earlier (third century BC) and brought to the settlement. Ignoring spelling-oriented (orthographic) changes and similar small differences, the Dead Sea Scrolls match the Hebrew text behind today’s Old Testament, in spite of the passage of over 2,000 years (where one would expect errors to creep in).
Over 20,000 known manuscripts document the New Testament text. This makes the New Testament the most reliable document of antiquity (a document written before the printing press). These manuscripts vary in size from a part of a page to an entire Bible (Old and New Testaments). The earliest New Testament manuscripts date from the second century (100-199) AD These manuscript copies were written in different languages by people of different nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds. In spite of all those differences between them, the New Testament texts all agree. (That is, those differences that we do observe between these hand written documents are occasional changes in the spelling of names or isolated cases of missing or changed words. Still, since we have so many copies, it is obvious to anyone but the hardened skeptic can that they all represent the same text.)
Note: Those minor differences that do exist between the Old and New Testament manuscripts are interesting for academic reasons. They are the topic of a future “in depth” Clarifying Christianity page. (It is currently about 10,000 words long and still under constructionstay tuned.)
The Proof of People Living at the Time of Christ
Special proof exists for the New Testament, since Christians were strongly persecuted by both the Jews and the Roman government. If the New Testament writings were false, these two groups would have produced a great deal of evidence to stop the growth of this “sect.” None exists. Further, the New Testament writings (before they were assembled into the “book” we call the New Testament) circulated during the lifetimes of thousands of people who had actually seen Jesus’ miracles and other historic events. No one ever refuted the New Testament writings as “fairy tales.”
The Proof of Historians
Secular history supports the Bible. For example, in The Antiquities of the Jews, book 18, chapter 3, paragraph 3 the famous historian Flavius Josephus writes:
Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful worksa teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
In 115 AD, P. Cornelius Tacitus wrote the following passage that refers to Jesus (called “Christus,” which means “The Messiah”) in book 15, chapter 44 of The Annals:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2005 by Clarifying Christianity (SM).
All information contained in Clarifying Christianity is a resource for questions dealing with Christian issues. It is not to be taken as Christian counseling. Seek a qualified Christian counselor for help with all such issues. If you choose to work with a Christian counselor, it is your responsibility to ask pertinent questions before you begin, to assure yourself of their qualities and abilities.5316