Why I Trust My Bible - Lesson 11

Conclusion to Why I Trust My Bible

We have looked at attacks on the trustworthiness of the Bible and given reasonable counter-arguments. it remains but to share personally why I trust my Bible.

Bill Mounce
Why I Trust My Bible
Lesson 11
Watching Now
Conclusion to Why I Trust My Bible

1. “Why I Trust My Bible”

a. Personally

b. “Why We Trust Our Bible”

2. Why I trust it

a. Can I prove the Bible is trustworthy?

b. Rational

c. Informed faith

d. Inner confirmation of the Holy Spirit

3. Thankful for people like Darrell, Craig, Dan, and Michael

  • Some people feel that it is wrong to ask fundamental questions such as whether or not they trust the Bible. But if you never seriously ask the question, you will never be convinced that it really is true and trustworthy.

  • Some question whether Jesus actually lived, claiming there's only one non-biblical reference. This is false; there are many more.
  • Learn about the reliability of the New Testament through oral tradition, the impact of Jewish oral culture, three approaches to orality, memorization techniques, corporate memory, scholarly presuppositions, the Holy Spirit's role, and the delayed documentation of the Gospels.
  • While the gospels are anonymous, tradition is very strong as to who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and all four authors were in a position to know the truth and we can trust their writings. If the church did not care about authorship traditions, they would not have picked these four.
  • If the biblical writers were not concerned about historical accuracy, we would expect more verses that would have answered the burning questions of the first century, and we certainly would not have the many embarrassing and difficult verses that we do have. The gospel is couched in historical fact, and if the events did not happen then the teaching is false.

  • How can we trust the Bible when it is so full of mistakes and internal contradictions? Really? Where are they? Doesn't harmonization help us see how the gospels can describe the same event but in different terms? If the Bible and science and history disagree, doesn't the Bible, properly interpreted, deserve the benefit of the doubt?

  • There is no question that Jesus and Paul sound different, but are their differences complementary or contradictory? What effect would their different contexts have on how they speak and what they write about?

  • Canonization is the process by which the church determined what books belonged in the Bible (and here we are focusing on the New Testament). Despite the frequent assertion to the opposite, the canon was not determined by a few individuals in a haphazard way. It appears that the three tests were authorship, harmony of doctrine and tone, and usage in the church as a whole. Did the church get it right?

    Correction: Bill mentions "Dan Block." He means, "Dan Brown." (Dan Block is a friend of his.)

  • It does no good to talk about inspiration and canonization if the church altered the contents of the Bible through the centuries. And why are there differences among the Greek manuscripts? This is the topic of textual criticism. The current situation is that we are confident of 99% of the New Testament text, and the 1% we are unsure of contains no significant theological doctrine.

  • Unless you can read Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, you need a translation. But why are there so many, and why are they so often different? Can they be trusted? Bill Mounce, chair of the ESV translation for 10 years and currently on the Committee on Bible Translation that is responsible for the NIV, shares his answer to these questions.

  • We have looked at attacks on the trustworthiness of the Bible and given reasonable counter-arguments. it remains but to share personally why I trust my Bible.

We can no longer assume that people trust their Bible. The popular media has launched such an attack on the believability of Scripture that our people have serious questions about the Bible. Are you ready to answer them? Did Jesus actually live? (Bill Maher on Larry King Live says no.) Did the biblical writers get it right, or did they slant/create the message? The gospels were written so long after Jesus lived; how can you trust them? How can you believe a Bible that is full of internal contradictions with itself and external contradictions with science? Doesn’t archaeology disprove the Bible? Why should we believe the books that are in the Bible; many good ones were left out, like the Gospel of Thomas. Why trust the Bible when there are so many and contradictory translations? These questions and more are discussed and answered in this class.

The YouTube Videos and handouts that Dr. Mounce is referring to in lecture 1 are the links that you will find on the class page. The two handouts are a list of the books of the Apocrypha, and a chart showing translations of the Bible on a continuum from formal to dynamic equivalence. The two links are an article by Dr. Blomberg, and a YouTube video of a debate between Dan Wallace and Bart Ehrman. 

The bibliography and footnotes in the book, Why I Trust the Bible, by Dr. Mounce, also provide a detailed list of the resources that are the basis for this online course and for the book.

Some additional resources that will give you a picture of what is going on in culture are interviews and debates with people like Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Bill Maher, Ben Shapiro, Joe Rogan, Tim Keller and Steven Crowder (e.g. "Change my mind"). You will find many of these by searching on YouTube. Many of these people are not believers, and Harris and Maher, for example, think that religion is the underlying cause of all the problems in the world. 

For biblical responses regarding issues raised outside of the trustworthiness of the Bible, you can see classes on BiblicalTraining.org like C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy, Advanced Worldview Analysis, and others. Other websites that you may find helpful are Apologetics 315 and Summit Ministries


Lecture 11: Conclusion

This is the 11th lecture in the online series of lectures on Why I Trust My Bible by Dr Bill Mounce. Bill was a preaching pastor at a church in Spokane, WA, and prior to that a professor of New Testament and director of the Greek Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He also taught at Azusa Pacific University and is the author of the bestselling Greek textbook, Basics of Biblical Greek.

1. Why I Trust My Bible

I want to conclude with just a few finishing comments. This class was designed to be a reflection of my own personal journey in the way I have dealt with these issues and the conclusions I have come up with. But it is also a parallel with a much longer class, ‘Why We Trust Our Bible.’ The people that did this class are world expects in their fields and I am so thankful for them. Darrell Bock and his work on the historical Jesus, Greg Blomberg and his work on the historical reliability of the Bible; there is also Michael Kruger with canonization and Daniel Wallace and his work on text criticism. These four guys are really good scholars that have given the bulk of their lives to those specific topics. If you want more information on the topics I covered, just have a look at this other class. It is much more detailed. I did that session on translation as well and in this class I only gave you one reason why translations are different but believable and trustworthy. In the other class I think there are ten or so reasons for this. My class was really an introduction while the other class goes far more into detail of the topics.

I really want to conclude on why I trust the Bible; I had a real frustrating experience when I was teaching college in Southern California. I had a student named Matt as a 1st semester freshman in New Testament Survey. We covered some of these basic things in class. I didn’t see him for the next three and a half years; that year at graduation it was very hot as it often is in Southern California. We were wearing those horrible black robes and I couldn’t wait to the rid myself of this stuff and start summer. I had just taken the robe off and Matt came into the office acting terrified. I ask him what was wrong. He replied excitedly that he had to talk to somebody about this whole thing; is the Bible true and why do I believe it. I think what had happened, he realized that he had been in a nurturing environment for four years with teachers that could have helped him work through these questions, but he didn’t avail himself of those resources. He was graduating and he realized he didn’t even know why he believed the Bible! It terrified him, as it should have. What bothered me, I realized that I had never shared with the students why I trusted the Bible and why I thought it was real. And that was on me, it was my fault for not sharing this with students.

2. Why I Trust it

The first question here, can I proved the Bible is trustworthy? Absolutely not! This is impossible. But you can’t prove that any book is trustworthy. Like you can’t prove any religion is trustworthy or that any philosophy is right. God requires faith for ultimate systems of belief, especially Christianity. No, I can’t prove it. But, is it rational? Does it make sense, is it internally consistent and is it coherent? Does it hold together? I would argue yes to all of these questions! I may not be able to prove it, like I can prove that 1 + 1 = 2. But it is rational to believe that the Bible is trustworthy. How else would you explain evil? The world says that evil is mostly an issue of external circumstances and if you feed people and educate them, all evil will go away. I have no doubt that education and food would help but would it make evil go away; of course not. Evil is not something that is outside, otherwise you could be fixed. Evil is something that comes from within; it is our heart that has been corrupted by an outside influence, which is Satan. But we have also given ourselves to it and this is what the Bible tells us; we are totally depraved. Every part of our being has been affected by Adam’s sin. So when I look at that reason, I ask, does that make sense? And I look at the other reasons that are out there which are affected by social conditioning, but I say what the world says doesn’t make any sense. Yet, the Bible’s message does make sense, it is obvious that the evil is within; it is a corruption of what God made that is good and there is a force that wants to drag us down. This makes sense! How else do you explain goodness? How do you explain beauty? For the Bible says we have a good and beautiful creator and this world is a reflection of his character, of his goodness and his beauty. That makes sense to me. I am thankful that I don’t have to put my brain on a shelf; I don’t have to ponder over whether the Bible is true or not. I love the phrase, informed faith. It is ultimately faith but it is informed, it makes sense and it’s rational and reasonable. As I said, it is coherent. I look at the nature of oral tradition and the nature of text criticism and I look at the process of canonization and it makes sense to believe that they got it right! I have seen the other explanations that say they got it wrong and those don’t make any sense to me. And then there is one more thing, the inter confirmation of the Holy Spirit. When it comes down it, it is not a bunch a rational reasons, it is not a blind faith but there is the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that is inside of me, that says that this is true. This is true. It is kind of like the verse in Romans 8:16 which answered the question, how we know that we are children of God and how we know that we are Christians. Part of the reason is the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes, ‘the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.’ And I think the same thing is true with the Bible. As we read it, there is something self-validating about it. There is something that says that this is true. It makes sense, it requires faith, having an informed reason and inner witness of the Holy Spirit sayings, yeah, the Bible is true, the Gospel writers were historical accurate and text criticism I believe and can argue that they doing their job right.

3. Thankful for people

I am so thankful for people like Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, Michael Kruger and Daniel Wallace. I am thankful for my experiences on the ESV and NIV committees. I’m thankful that there are people that have poured their lives into giving us good reasons to believe and I do believe. I trust as you look at these different issues and work through them that you too will come to have an informed faith; a confident assurance that the Bible is true and trustworthy.

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