Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Biblical Reliability

As promised, I'm working up a series on Biblical reliability. Why, you may ask, would I do such a thing? For one, I have a great deal of interest in the Bible. My first undergraduate degree included a major in Bible, my father is a Bible-teaching pastor of great talent, and my current church is a Biblically-centered church.

Second, I have some small experience in debating apologetics, and the most frequent topic I've encountered is Biblical reliability and the idea of inerrancy. This seems natural, since as an Evangelical I advocate the authority of scripture. Those whose beliefs differ from mine rightly think it wisest to discuss the foundation of my beliefs. While I will not focus on inerrancy in the series as a whole, I hope to include a post or two on the subject.

Finally, I believe the idea is a good one for a blog. For one thing, arguments tend to be relatively short, and while academics could go on for pages about the technical details and arguments, we lay folk can generally sum them up in a blog post. Then, let the commentary (i.e. the "fun" stuff begin!)

So, now we know the why, let's discuss the goals. I do not anticipate proving to a 100% certainty anything I say in defense of scriptural integrity, reliability or authority. Acceptance of these things generally involves some measure of faith anyway, and since I cannot force anyone to believe it would be folly to try. What I will be laying forth are arguments that I believe justify, in part, the reliability of the Bible.

Biblical reliability and accuracy are but a few parts of a complex whole. The reliability of scripture is one leg on which my faith rests. It is not the table itself, but an important part of it. I don't wish to discuss all the various legs at this time, but the ones I include in this series will be a vital part of why I believe as I do, including why I believe there is a God in the first place. Hopefully I can show the Bible can be, rationally, seen as accurate and therefore can provide justification for the belief God exists. I do not presuppose God's existence in these arguments. Rather, my belief in God results, in part, from accepting these as rational and sound arguments.

I have a couple of other goals. Hopefully, some reader will learn to think about scriptural relevance and import in a new light. I also intend to use this series to focus my own views on the topic. I've found nothing focuses an argument better than hashing it out with friends and strangers. So please bring your thoughts and, with civility, let's discuss.

As I noted in yesterday's entry, this series is inspired by Dr. Blomberg's talk this past weekend. While his focus was on the reliability of the Gospels, I will broaden the thought to scripture as a whole. That being said, I will be starting with some of the arguments he raised for accepting as trustworthy the Gospel message. To start the series, I'll outline those arguments here (I'll add additional arguments later on) and get to the nitty-gritty starting tomorrow.

  1. We have reliable copies of the texts

  2. The authors were in a position to report, accurately

  3. The writing was early enough

  4. The writers wanted to record things faithfully/accurately

  5. Oral traditions were accurate

  6. The writing fits the cultural patterns of the day

  7. The material isn't too flattering

  8. The material doesn't attempt to force closure to issues of the day

  9. Non-biblical testimonials generally confirm scriptural accounts

  10. Archaeology generally confirms scriptural accounts

  11. The early church testimony generally confirms orthodox views of scripture

Obviously, more detail can be revealed for each of these items. I'll be starting that tomorrow. See you then!

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