Why Do You Trust the Bible?
Can you explain to someone why you believe the Bible? I don’t mean explain it to your Sunday School class, your small group, or your Christian mom. I mean, could you explain to someone who is a total skeptic—doesn’t believe in God, Jesus, Jonah, or the big fish—why you think that everything the Bible says is true?
That’s not an easy question, is it? And the trouble isn’t that Christians don’t have their reasons. We do, and many of them are very good ones. Archaeological evidence backs up the truth claims of the Bible; it has “the ring of truth” to it; it’s the Word of God; you just have to believe it on faith.
Of course, none of those reasons for believing the Bible are wrong or bad. It’s just that none of them are likely to hold much water with most of the people with whom we live and work and interact in our daily lives. The fact is, most of the world around us finds it very strange to hear that otherwise seemingly well-adjusted, put-together people would stake their lives on and put their trust in a book like the Bible. To put it bluntly, it sounds crazy to them.
Playing Defense Is Not Enough
Under that kind of pressure, there’s always a temptation for Christians to retreat into a defensive, apologetic (in the bad way) crouch when it comes to their belief in the Bible—either side-stepping the question entirely, or engaging the conversation with the goal of convincing unbelievers not that it’s right to believe the Bible, but that it’s simply OK to believe it, that it doesn’t make us quite as weird as maybe they thought.
But here’s the thing: as Christians, we’re not in the business simply of playing defense for our “crazy” beliefs, just getting people to leave us alone so we can get on with “practicing our religion” in the privacy of our homes. Quite to the contrary, we are actually in the business—and on the mission — of declaring to a sinful, rebellious world that the King has offered mercy and forgiveness through his own life, death, and resurrection from the grave.
If that’s true, then it’s not enough to play defense when it comes to the truth and trustworthiness of the Bible. If we’re going to declare the gospel of Jesus to a world that rejects him outright, we’re going to have to start by asserting the truth of the book which tells us about him in the first place — the Bible.
So how do you do that in a world that simply doesn’t take the Bible seriously? How do you turn the tables so that you’re not simply defending your belief in the Bible, but actually pressing the truth of the Bible against the skepticism of an unbelieving world?
Obviously, I can’t take the time here to lay out an entire case. But let me give you four quick thoughts on the shape such a case would take—a case that doesn’t just play defense, but actually tries to push the ball down the field.
1. Don’t Quit Before the Game Starts
In other words, don’t admit that while most of the world operates in the realm of reason and logic, belief in the Bible is a “religious” matter that you “just have to take on faith.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians use that line when they get pushed into a conversational corner. The questions come hard and fast, they’re on the ropes, and they finally just throw up their hands and say, “Well I just believe it on faith!” And of course that’s the match for the skeptic. He shrugs, walks away, and says, “Oh. You just believe it on faith. I see. That means you don’t really have any good reasons at all.”
In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter tells us always to be prepared “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” That phrase doesn’t mean “be defensive.” It means to make a case—that is, to give reasons for your faith (including your belief in the Bible) that will press back on the person questioning you. In other words, Peter is telling us to be ready to make a case to the world not just for why it’s alright for us to believe the Bible, but for why they should believe it, too! And that means not relegating belief in the Bible to the merely “religious,” but rather making a case based on reason, evidence, and logic that will have the potential to unsettle even the most hardened skeptic.