(1) My faith is not in the Bible itself; my faith is in Jesus. I follow a person, not a book. But I do believe in and trust the full truthfulness of Scripture in its witness to God and his purposes with us.
(2) All of us have to trust in something, whether an ancient book or the mindset of our culture. Many people in our world distrust the Bible, choosing instead to discover the truth on their own. What we don’t seem to realize is that we have been socially conditioned to make this decision. Shun tradition and follow your intuition, right? In other words, someone (or rather some tradition) has told us to think like this. The idea that we are totally deciding things on our own is a myth. We all make a decision (whether conscious or not) to trust someone or something. So even if you choose to deny the Bible, you’re trusting some other tradition as your authority. I just think this is the most reliable tradition.
Here are three reasons why:
(1) The Bible centers on an historical event that stands up to critical scrutiny: Jesus’ resurrection. In discussing the trustworthiness of the Bible, I never start with the Bible, but rather with Jesus’ resurrection. I believe that Jesus rising from the dead is the most historically likely way to explain the facts: (a) Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate and placed in a tomb. (b) Jesus’ tomb was later found empty; otherwise the movement would have never gotten off the ground. (c) Even though they didn’t expect the resurrection to happen, Jesus’ first followers lost their lives for the sake of this belief and the kind of life it called for. (d) The stories they told of the resurrection are full of embarrassing facts and are notoriously difficult to line up perfectly; in other words, they don’t at all look like made up stories. (e) The Christian movement took off, centered firmly on this event. There have been many attempts to explain this evidence, but the only historically satisfactory conclusion is that Jesus was actually resurrected from the dead (as bizarre as that is!) Here’s the point for our question: for me this validates the rest of the story. The resurrection validates Jesus as God’s Messiah, which validates the rest of the story as God’s revelation. Jesus being true means the story he comes from is also trustworthy.
(2) The Bible’s description of our world fits our world to a tee. In other words, the story fits. It describes the world truthfully. Take the story of Adam and Eve for example. When we free this story from questions about scientific theories, talking serpents, belly buttons, etc, we see that it accurately describes the human situation. We have all – as individuals and societies – listened to voices in our world and in our heads and chosen not to trust that God loves us and is out to do us good. We have all taken our destiny into our own hands, rejecting whatever it is we know of God’s command. We know that something is wrong with the world, and that it manifests itself in relational strife, toil, labor, and frustration from the ground (famine, drought, etc), and pain in childbearing; this is exactly what Genesis 4-11 says we should expect. This story describes our world truly. There are many more ways this is true, both in general and of specific stories.
(3) Science and history have never disproved the central claims of Scripture. Technically this would be impossible, which is part of my point. I don’t mean by this that every statement the Bible makes about “history” or “science” is absolutely precise in every way. I mean that in many cases they were never intended to be. The Bible is not primarily about history (as we think of it), and it’s not about science at all. It is about God, and how God is moving through history. Science doesn’t really have a say one way or another about the Bible’s credibility. Science and Scripture are talking about the world from very different angles. This may be frustrating for us because we are socially conditioned to believe that something must be scientific to be true, but this simply isn’t the case (as much of our lives prove quite clearly). Likewise, ancient authors thought of history very differently. For instance, most of the large numbers are rounded up. Another example would be geneaologies, which often skip generations because they are making a larger point than merely recounting boring facts.
To be honest with you I find this quesion fairly uninteresting and not intimidating at all, because once again IMHO so much of it rises or falls with the resurrection. I have little interest in proving Scripture; it’s truthfulness is much more evident when it is embodied than when it is argued. So the best proof of Scripture is a transformed community living under it’s authority.