In very many ways the most basic questions of all about the Christian faith are questions about the Bible. For if the Bible really is an accurate and reliable revelation from our Divine Creator, then almost every other important question about life and truth (Is there a God? Who am I? How did I get here? What comes after this life?) is automatically answered. For this reason we have dedicated the first three issues of the Proclamation in 1997 to answering twenty-one leading questions about the Bible. Due to space limitations, our answers here are obviously not as complete as they otherwise might be, but we believe that they are accurate, and we offer them with the conviction that even just a 'starter response' (so long as it is not inaccurate) is usually preferable to no response at all. 1 What sets the Bible apart from the holy books of other religions? The overwhelming evidence in support of its claim to be the exclusive revelation of God's truth. The unity of the Bible, as well as its record of survival, circulation, and fulfilled prophecy stand essentially unchallenged by the holy books of any other faith system in the world. And since the Bible claims to alone be God's Word, if the evidence for its Divine origin proves convincing, all other 'scriptures' are necessarily eliminated. The more one studies and compares the holy books of world religions, the more it becomes apparent that they represent altogether contradictory worldviews. For instance, the Koran portrays a God (Allah) who is impersonal, while the Bible describes God as being infinite, yet also very personal. It obviously can't be both ways. If one is true, the other is false. We believe the evidence clearly comes down in favor of the Bible. 2 What do Christians mean when they say that the Bible is inspired? Christians claim that the Bible was/is Divinely inspired, or "God-breathed". That is, God worked through the personalities and pens of the various human authors in such a way that every phrase, letter, and detail (in the original manuscripts) ended up exactly as God wanted it to be-a perfect record of His revelation to us. 3 How do we know that the Bible really is inspired by God? Its record of fulfilled prophecy. No human or human agency could ever have so consistently recorded the details of people and events yet hundreds of years in the future as does the Bible. For example, hundreds of specific, precise, highly definitive prophecies have already been fulfilled in the most minute detail. In the Old Testament alone there exist over 300 references to the coming Messiah, His ministry, and His suffering -all fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. 4 How do we know the Bible is true? If the Bible is inspired of God, and God is trustworthy in His revelation to us about His own truthful nature, then the Bible must be true. The growing amount of corroborating evidence from science, archaeology, and the world as we know it indicates that such is the case. 5 What's the point of claiming that the Bible is inerrant in the originals if no one has the originals? The number and proximity (to the originals) of the manuscripts that we do have leave no substantial question about what the originals themselves said. With the New Testament, for instance, some 24,000 manuscripts exist today, a number of them dating to within 100 years of the original. And these agree with one another. It's as if 200 different people told me that they had heard you say "I love chocolate cake" three days ago. Although I may not have heard you say those words yourself, I have essentially as much (circumstantial) evidence that you did as if I had. 6 Has modern archeology proven the Bible to be true? Proven, no. But provided (and still providing) over-whelming evidence, yes. Even as recently as December 14, 1996, an article in our local paper was head-lined "Experts find biblical truths in stone." And I'll always remember the article in no less than Time magazine (3/5/90) entitled "Score One for the Bible." 7 Aren't there myths in the Bible, like the story of Jonah & the whale? Unless there is some clear indication that a Bible story is intended to be understood as allegory or metaphor (vs. myth), one should assume that the Bible means what it says and says what it means-in every detail, including that miraculous account of the great fish that once swallowed the renegade prophet Jonah.
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