Tom: We’re going through Dave Hunt’s book An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith. It’s a book, which, based upon the responses we’ve received, has a lot of people excited about the simple truths of God’s Word. Today we’re continuing our discussion of chapter five, which is entitled, Shortcut to Truth. And the shortcut is to go directly to the Bible rather than exploring all of the religious beliefs of mankind.
First, such an exploration is a rather impossible task, and, second, the Bible declares that all other religions are wrong. If the Bible is indeed true in everything it claims, then there is no need to go through the teachings of other faiths.
Now, Dave, I’m sure what I’ve just said didn’t thrill some of our listeners. On the other hand, there may be some out there who are excited about what they just heard. But I can’t take blame or credit for what I just said, can I?
Dave: Well, this is what the Bible says. The Bible claims to be God’s Word. If it isn’t God’s Word, what’s the point? There’s no point for you and for me to sit here and discuss what we think God may have said. Then we’re going to decide what religion is right or wrong—on what basis would we decide that? The Bible says all of the rest of them are wrong. Let’s go to the Bible first. It claims to be God’s Word, and if we can prove it, and we can, then we’ve saved a lot of time!
Tom: The name of this program, if you’ve just joined us, is Search the Scriptures Daily, and our premise is that “God has revealed to mankind all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him” (2 Peter:1:3), and His specific revelation of such things is found in His Word, the Bible.
Now, getting back to what you wrote in your book An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith, the Bible is the key to your shortcut. If it is what it claims to be, that which God himself has revealed to mankind, then it must be true in all it communicates. Psalm:119:160: “Thy Word is true from the beginning, and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth forever.” So, if we find that not to be the case, then we just come up with some persuasive excuses to “help God out,” or at least some major institutions, because they have a lot at stake in this, don’t you think?
Dave: Well, Tom, if the Bible is not all true, then how do I decide what part of it is true, what part of it isn’t true? The Bible is not just about theories, ideas . . . not just about religion—in fact, the word “religion” is only found a couple of times in the Bible. The Bible is based upon history. It’s recounting history, it’s giving us facts, it’s giving us evidence. For example, if we do not have an eyewitness account of what Jesus said and did, what is the point of speculating about it today? It is either true, or it’s false. If it’s false, throw it out, forget the whole thing! And if God has not spoken definitively to man, and we cannot recognize, we cannot know that this is God speaking, we can’t prove that it is, it’s not a valid record—then, Tom, we have nothing. There’s no point in talking about it because we would have no way. . . .
So, you and I, for example, are going to sit around and discuss what Jesus maybe did or what He didn’t do, like the Jesus Seminar does? On what basis would we come to any conclusions? We couldn’t possibly come to any conclusions, so we’re wasting our time! We’re going to sit around and talk about what God is like, and so forth, and what God may have done, or what His plans and purposes for man may be? How would we come up with these ideas? If God hasn’t told us, we’re wasting our time! The Bible not only declares that it is God’s Word, it gives us the evidence—and we’ve talked about that in the past.
Tom: Yeah, Dave, we’re going to get into some of the evidences, but before we go there, we said last week and in past weeks that if the Bible is not true, if it’s not accurate—100 percent accurate—then we throw it out.
Tom: But the Bible, down through the ages, fallen man has had his hands in it, so how far can we push this “accuracy” business?
Dave: Well, a copyist may have made an error here and there. It doesn’t say that every copy . . . for example, if I sat down and I began to copy parts of the Bible from my King James sitting here in front of me, it doesn’t mean that I would be without error. We have thousands of manuscripts for the New Testament, which we can compare back and forth. Certainly there are no doctrinal teachings, no factual teachings—no doctrinal teachings and no statements of fact—that we have any doubt about.
Now, when we come to translations, there are no exact equivalents, for example, between some Greek words or Greek ideas and English, or German, or whatever it may be, but we have God’s Word, and the ideas that it presents, the history that it presents, the scientific statements that it presents—whenever it deals with science, they must be accurate, and indeed they are.
Tom: And that’s what you would expect, again, if this is God’s Word; if this is God’s revelation to mankind through the prophets, who were inspired of Him.
Dave: And He would preserve it. And, of course, the great evidence is in the prophecies foretold thousands of years before they happened—events that have shaped history, and the whole world has witnessed them, so, there’s no doubt about that.
Tom: Right. Dave, as you know, it’s our joy to be talking about God’s Word, because we believe—and, certainly, we believe the evidence bears out—that this is indeed God speaking to mankind.
Dave: Furthermore, Tom, it bears witness in our hearts. This is a book that pierces even to the dividing asunder. . . . It reveals the thoughts and intents of a heart. And when you read the Psalms, you read the Proverbs, you read what Jesus had to say, you read what the prophets had to say—they’re not playing favorites. They’re indicting Israel with the sins of the people of Israel, and so forth.
This book, from that standpoint, again, is unlike any book out there. This is God speaking to man, and it’s a powerful, convicting Word that rings true in our hearts and in our consciences. There’s no doubt about that. So we have this side of the Bible as well.
Tom: Right. One important verification test is archaeology. The Bible’s a history book. It talks about civilizations; it talks about individuals—kings, rulers; it talks about cultural aspects of societies over diverse—well, not diverse, but over great lengths of time. And archaeologists have been able to dig up some of these artifacts that relate to the culture.
Dave: If you’re a Jewish student in grammar school over there in Israel, you study your history out of the Bible. Archaeologists want to know where to dig to look for ancient cities, they follow the Bible—to find an old well, for example, from the Bible days—the days of Genesis, the days of Abraham, or whatever. No, it’s all verifiable. You don’t find anything that contradicts it. And the museums of the world—they contain, literally, mountains, tons, of evidence that has been dug up. Coins, and metals, and utensils, and . . . the Bible is true! It’s verifiable, archaeologically.
Tom: Dave, and those who would denigrate the Bible—particularly, you know, there have been some archaeologists or theologians in the past that said, well, for example, “The Hittites—we can’t find any evidence for the Hittites.”
Dave: Well, I visited the Hittite museum in Ankara, Turkey. Yeah, they did say that, at one time. They’ve said a lot of things—denied that the walls of Jericho fell down, denied even that King David even existed. And every time—100 percent of the time—when the archaeologists dig up the information, we find the Bible is true, the critics are wrong. But they hadn’t found the evidence for the Hittites at the time these critics were making those remarks. But they did eventually dig them up, and, as I said, an entire museum in Ankara—and, of course, you have evidence of the Hittites in other museums around the world as well.
Tom: Right. Right. Dave, at a later date, there was even some grumbling that Pontius Pilate never really existed. I mean, here we’re dealing with the New Testament. But it was interesting how they came about some information with regard to Pontius Pilate. Are you familiar with that?
Dave: Well, I know there’s a lot of information. For example, Josephus mentions Pilate, and, of course, when you visit Caesarea you have that stone there, with the inscription about Pontius Pilate on it. Caesar had tried to destroy all evidence of Pontius Pilate—just wipe him out—but this was a stone that had an inscription on it that was just right for a seat in an outdoor amphitheater, and so they used it, with the inscription underneath. And when the earthquake came and overturned it, and the archaeologists found it, and so forth, there it is! But we have other evidence as well that gradually came up.
Tom, let me just give a couple of examples, if I may, here, from the book of Acts. Let’s take chapter 13, verse 7: “Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus [and so forth].” We’re talking about the island of Cypress, and the Greek word is Anthypatos, or Deputy. Now Anthypatos—that was a title belonging only to a man of proconsular dignity, and the skeptics said the governor of Cypress never had that dignity, so the Bible is wrong. Well, what do you know! The archaeologists found a coin, minted in the reign of Claudius Caesar, which verified that indeed he was Anthypatos. Let’s just take one other one here—we have limited time on this program—Acts:16:12: “ . . . and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia and a colony.” The Greek word in there is “colonia,” and again, it’s not just an ordinary colony. It’s a colony with a special status—a special Roman status—and the skeptics said Philippi never had that dignity. What do you know! They found a memo that showed that Julius Caesar had conferred that dignity upon Philippi.
We could give you other examples, but now you couldn’t have written this a hundred years later, several hundred years later, and put in these accuracies that are there, and the Bible has them, just for verification purposes. And also a little bit of a trap for the skeptics.
Tom: Luke was pretty good at what he did, but really we’re talking about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Not only were these men historians, particularly in Luke’s case, but they had the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct.
Dave: Eyewitness historians.
Tom: Exactly. Dave, I want to quote Nelson Glick —you know that name. He’s been called the dean of Mideast archaeologists. Here’s what he says: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made, which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.”
Dave: Well, that’s quite a record. You couldn’t say that of the Bhagavad Gita, for example; the Hindu Vedas, the Qur’an—you couldn’t say that.
Tom: Dave, that certainly separates the Bible from every book considered by religious groups to be sacred. Even a cursory reading of scriptures other than the Bible reveals multiple errors in fact, history, and science. And one book that I’d like to consider now, just by comparison, and it’s viewed as sacred, as particularly having spiritual and historical significance, is the Book of Mormon. In the Latter-day Saints Articles of Faith is found this statement: “We also believe The Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.”
However, that statement of equality with the Bible soon outdistanced the Old and New Testament. I’ll quote Mormon apostle Orson Pratt: “Who, in his right mind, could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution?” Let me give you just a couple others. Mormon doctrinal authority and apostle Bruce McConkie—however, he’s even more direct regarding his church’s view of the Bible: “One of the great heresies of an apostate Christianity is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men.” Later he declared what I guess was really bothering him, Dave: “There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” And, “Mormons have the only pure and perfect Christianity now on earth.”
Now, Dave, I don’t agree with what he says, but I do appreciate this: he’s upfront. He’s laying out his beliefs, and that’s . . .
Dave: Well, Tom, you can see . . .
Tom: . . . refreshing, in one sense.
Dave: Right. There is an attack upon the Bible for obvious reasons. We’ve just laid it out. If the Bible isn’t true, then we have nothing, really. It’s up to you and me to decide, or somebody else to decide. And so the Bible is attacked from all sides. Skeptics, but it’s also attacked from those who claim to teach from it, because Mormons would also say they teach from the Word of God. While the Catholic Church doesn’t go as far as these Mormon “prophets” that you’ve been quoting, or apostles, the Catholic Church does say that the Bible is true only when it comes to morals and doctrine of our salvation—not infallible regarding history and science! Now, of course, the God who wrote the Bible created the universe, so I think He probably knows about science. And the Catholic Church, for example, accepts theistic evolution and denies the validity, or the accuracy, infallibility, of the Bible with regard to scientific and historical matters.
Now that raises a real problem, because if the Bible isn’t scientifically accurate, then where else is it not accurate? It’s telling us things about God that we can only know from God himself. And if God doesn’t know about the universe, then why should we believe what He says about Himself?
But, Tom, I think you wanted to get into something specific about the Book of Mormon.
Tom: Right. Let me quote from the Book of Mormon. This is from 2 Nephi, chapter 29, verses 6, 9, 10. It says, “Thou fool, that shall say, ‘A Bible. We have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible.’ And because that I have spoken one word, ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another. Wherefore because that ye have a Bible, ye need not suppose that it contains all My words. Neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.”
And certainly, this is a view . . . I’m reading from the Book of Mormon. They have the Doctrine and Covenants. They have other sacred—they would refer to as sacred—teachings.
Dave: Of course, Doctrine and Covenants hadn’t come yet, and this is talking about the Book of Mormon. Now, in Luke 24, “Jesus,” it says, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” We find Jesus giving no quotes from the Book of Mormon, which “existed prior to Jesus”—this was written about 600 BC. There are no quotes in the Bible, no references in the Bible. The Bible is a self-contained book from Genesis to Revelation. There is no room for this other book that claims to be inspired of God. Furthermore, the things that you have in Mormonism contradict the Bible. So we can’t have God giving two different statements.
Furthermore, in contrast to the Bible, which archaeologically, historically, we’ve said, is accurate. The Book of Mormon just has hundreds of problems in it. You have domesticated animals, for example, that it claims existed in pre-Columbian times, that weren’t there. It talks about iron and steel tools and weapons. They did not exist. It talks about linen and silk clothes, and nearly every kind of domesticated animal that we have today is mentioned in the Book of Mormon. They simply didn’t exist. You have domesticated chickens, and so forth, that were not there, Tom! It’s just very simple. You have the claim that the American Indians came from Jewish stock—these were Jews. No! There is a difference anthropologically between the American Indians and the Jews. The American Indians come more from an Asiatic background . . .
Tom: Or Mongolian . . .
Dave: Mongolian. Right!
Tom: Dave, you mentioned, or you were referring to, the Lamanites, who supposedly . . . well, they were descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, and they also . . . all of the American Indians were descended from them, according to . . . Now, here’s how that came about, verse 21: “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they were hardened in their hearts against him that they had become like unto a flint, wherefore as they were white and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing them to my people, the Lord God caused the skin of blackness to come upon them. (Verse 22): And thus saith the Lord God, I will cause that they will be loathsome unto thy people save they shall repent of their iniquities. And (23): And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixed with their seed, for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it and it was done.”
In other words, all of the dark-skinned Indians of South America, North America—they’re actually Jewish, according to this, and that came about through God’s curse.
Dave: Well . . .
Tom: Dave, any anthropologist would say, “In no way!”
Dave: It simply isn’t true. Furthermore, in about thirty years, you have about twenty-eight people who have suddenly become like the sands of the seashore. They’ve become two great nations. They have this big battle . . .
Tom: In the millions!
Dave: Yeah! You can’t . . . I mean, it’s impossible. It didn’t happen. You can’t find a trace of any of the cities: Bountiful, or [Zarahemia]. There are a large number of cities that are mentioned. We haven’t found a record of any of them. We haven’t found the ruins of any of them. You can’t find the topography. You can’t find a river, or a bay, or a mountain that is mentioned. The Mormon Church has spent millions of dollars. They have scoured North, Central, South America, with archaeological teams, and they cannot find a pin; they can’t find a coin; they can’t find anything. In fact, everything that we find is to the contrary.
Tom: Yet, what I read at the beginning—the quotes from Mormon apostles—they would say that the Bible is corrupt and inaccurate, and so on. So, Dave, what we’re doing here is we’re taking a book that claims to be the Word of God, that claims to displace the Word of God . . .
Dave: . . . which Joseph Smith said was the most perfect book in all the world . . .
Tom: Right. And see if indeed it holds up to scrutiny, and it doesn’t in our view, but . . . and it doesn’t—I think in our view, and anyone who looks at it seriously.
Dave: Tom, there is no non-Mormon archaeologist who puts any credence whatsoever in the Book of Mormon. And there are many Mormon archaeologists who have confessed that there is no book of Mormon archaeology.
Tom: You know, once again, the name of this program is Search the Scriptures Daily. We’re asking everyone to put, not necessarily the Book of Mormon or other books that claim to be sacred books of different religious faiths—not just those books but the Bible as well. We’ve got to know God’s truth. We want His truth. Jesus said, “If you abide in My Word you are My disciples indeed, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” That’s our heart in this.