Tom: Thanks, Gary. You are listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. For the last few weeks we’ve been using Dave Hunt’s book In Defense of the Faith as a source of topics, and, as the title indicates, the topics deal with the content of faith found in biblical Christianity.
The subject for today’s program is The Reliability of the Bible, and our first question is: “The Judeo-Christian Bible is not the only book which claims to be inspired of God. There are the Qur’an, the Hindu Vedas, the Book of Mormon, and others which claim to have come from God. Doesn’t the very fact that Christianity teaches that the other books are not true cast serious doubt upon the Bible as well? If so many others could be wrong, why not one more? After all, an atheist only doubts one more book than the Christian doubts.”
Dave: Well, that’s a good way of putting it I guess.
Tom: Yeah, but it doesn’t quite make sense though.
Dave: No, well just because all the rest of them are wrong doesn’t mean the Bible would be wrong. Something has to be right. And if all the rest of them are wrong, that’s all the more odds that the Bible, the only one left that hasn’t been proved wrong—in fact, it has been proved right.
Tom: Dave you give lots of analogies there. I mean you have a race, lots of runners, only one person wins the race. It doesn’t mean nobody wins the race, and if the Bible, which is true, and it’s a tough thing for people to deal with, but the Bible claims to be the sole revelation of God and everything else is a counterfeit.
Dave: Now that makes sense, Tom, and you would think that if the Bible really is God’s Word, not only is it going to make its own claims, but it is going to point out the errors that are out there. That’s a criticism that I often get. Why can’t you just be positive? Well, you can’t just talk about what is right except in the context of what is wrong! Because the lie tries to mimic the truth and sometimes the lie comes very close. For example, some people (we’ve talked a lot about this in the past), some people say, “Well, just so long as you believe in a higher power—or you believe in some god.” Well, the Bible goes to great lengths to tell you there is only one God. The one, true God. And it tells us who He is; it tells us about Him; it tells us His character; His purpose and plan for man. It tells us what went wrong with man’s relationship with Him and how that can be made right. And this God is not a Silly Putty God that you can just manipulate and mold into any form that you please. God obviously has his own ideas! He is supreme. He is sovereign. And somehow people don’t like that.
Tom: Yeah, and He’s the only one that knows. What else do we have? We have everybody else’s opinions.
Dave: Right, and we’re not interested in opinions. Not on this subject. So the Bible makes it very clear that all other writings that claim to be inspired of God are not inspired of God.
Now, the Bible talks about false prophets. It gives you seven characteristics of false prophets, which we’ve probably talked about in the past, but one of them is that what they foretell doesn’t come to pass. Now, the Bible—and, again, these are things we have dealt with, but it bears repeating. The Bible is filled with prophecies. Not cheap psychic predictions. These are history-making events that the world has seen, has witnessed, their fulfillment, and they were foretold in writing thousands of years before they happened—some of them centuries before they happened; others, thousands of years.
Tom: Dave, why don’t you just give them one example? Whether somebody has read the Bible or not, or is familiar with the New Testament, or familiar with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, at least they have seen movies; I mean at least they have some idea of what the scenario was.
Dave: Yeah. They gave them the wrong scenario, mostly, in those movies, but anyway.
Tom: Well, but at least they know some elements with regard to it. The amazing thing with regard to prophecy is that you can put together the scenario from the Old Testament in such detail that if you begin to . . . as I said, for someone who doesn’t really know the Bible that well, but knows the story of Christ dying on the cross, and so on, you can put together that entire scenario with incredible detail from a thousand years before it took place all the way down to 500 years before it took place.
Dave: Including the crucifixion, which was unknown, and I mean, okay, in detail—and Israel, of course. You know, when you read the Bible, you go back to Genesis, and you read about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose name became Israel. You read about Israel, you read about this land, and then you get the prophecies that God would throw them out of this land. He would scatter them—because of their sin He would throw them out—He would scatter them all over this world. In the last days, He would bring them back. He would make Jerusalem a “cup of trembling,” and you look at the news today, and you see what is happening over there.
See this is not fiction. You read the Bhagavad Gita—this is fiction. You couldn’t even correlate it with real history. The same thing with the Qur’an. Now the Qur’an does not claim to give you much history. This is supposedly a revelation through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad and so forth, but you have stories in there that are like the Arabian Nights fairy tales! You have the Battle of the Ants against Solomon. I mean—incredible! You’ve got—Solomon is up against a bunch of ants. Then you’ve got birds that help him out, and, well, it’s just fiction! It isn’t true!
Now, we have parables in the Bible, but they’re very clearly parables. But we have history. Israel exists today exactly as the Bible foretold. So, we have many prophetic evidences, but we have many other evidences as well. But the Bible . . . look, if the whole world is dying of a disease—it’s incurable except for one pill that I’ve invented, let’s say. Shouldn’t I try to convince everyone in the world to take that pill? And if there are false pills out there that look like it—the same color maybe, the same size and shape, shouldn’t I warn the world that those will not cure this disease? And shouldn’t I not only offer a pill, which is the only one that will cure the disease, but should I not at the same time say, “This is the only one”? There are other misrepresentations; there are others that claim to be. Tom, it makes sense.
So the Bible is going to warn you that there are false gods, that there are misrepresentations, that there is a false gospel, even a false Christ, that unless we have the doctrine clear, unless we believe in Jesus Christ for who He is, unless we believe in the true God—in fact, Jesus said John:17:3, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (italics added).”
So this question—I mean, there are a lot of other books out there. Why couldn’t they be just as right—or if they’re all wrong, why must the Bible be right? Why couldn’t it be wrong?
It doesn’t make sense. I mean, it’s a good question to raise. Maybe there’s nothing that’s right. Maybe we don’t know anything. Maybe they’re all false including the Bible, okay? That’s what this program is about: search the Scriptures daily, and let’s check the Bible out. And that is what we’re doing.
Tom: Dave, within this question they mention lots of other sacred books. But that raises the question of it seems in the heart of man that there is a hunger, a hunger for God—a hunger for finding out things about God. Now just that alone—man seeking after God—that couldn’t come about by some kind of evolutionary process or idea. There must be a reality with regard to seeking after God, don’t you think?
Dave: You would have to say that, oh, apparently the people who sought after God—this is something that came up in the genes somehow by accident, and those that sought after God were more likely to survive than those who didn’t, and therefore, their descendants got this in their genes.
Seeking after God does not come in the genes! It has nothing to do with the physical world. It has to do with man’s soul and man’s spirit, and there is indeed a vacuum in man. There’s a hunger in man. It’s like a haunting memory of a paradise from which we were expelled; a relationship that we once had. So, the very fact, as you say, that all men are seeking God. . . .
Now, on the other hand, unfortunately, most people don’t really want the true God. They desire some higher power or whatever they want to call it. But the God of the Bible—we’ve talked about this in the past, and one of the most important verses in the scriptures, an important promise: “You will seek for me and find me if you seek for me with all your heart.” So, anyone in any culture, anytime in history, anywhere, who really wants to know the true God, He promises He will reveal himself to them. Now, how He’s going to do that would depend upon their circumstances and so forth. He revealed Himself to Abraham, and Jesus said of Abraham, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad.” Abraham had an understanding.
So, yes, there is this hunger, and this vacuum, as Pascal said, the God-shaped vacuum in every heart. In fact (if I can remember it), another quote from Pascal that you never hear, Pascal said, “I consider only two men rational: the man who loves God with all his heart because he has found Him, or the man who seeks God with all his heart, because he has as yet found Him not.” That should be the real passion and purpose. The problem is that we want a God that won’t tell us what to do but whom we can use. The Star Wars Force—Darth Vader did pretty well playing the dark side of the Force, and, what do you know? The guy ends up as one of the “Trinity” after he dies! So what’s the point? What does it matter whether it’s the dark or the light side? You just get power out of it to use it for your own ends.
This is what most people want. This is what the New Age is all about—“taking control of my life,” and so forth, but if you really want to know the God who created you, the God whose name is Yahweh, I AM that I AM, the self-existent One from all eternity, so that you can get to know Him and allow Him to guide your life—He will reveal Himself to you. And, of course, we have the Bible, which is God’s very revelation to man.
Tom: Dave was it Lenin that referred to religion as the “opiate of the masses”?
Tom: You make an interesting point in this chapter by saying, “Well, that’s a proof that there must be a God.” If there is this hunger, if there is this opiate that draws people, even though they’re going to go awry because self-deception, self-delusion, self-interest, is going to draw them to a God that they want to make up, but still, it really underscores that there must be a God.
Dave: It was probably months and months ago—I imagine we must have mentioned it on this program, but that was the thing that bugged Lenin—(Le-NEEN)—he thought he was a scientific materialist. Nothing exists except matter. So, anything that you know, I mean, you know it through your five senses, through sound, or smell, or touch, or whatever. And that’s how we learn about this physical universe. But then, he rocked back on his heels, and he said, “Well, wait a minute! Where does this idea of God come from? What was the physical stimulus in the physical universe out there somewhere that caused man to get this reaction in his brain? God—there isn’t any! You’ve never seen anything, you’ve never smelled or touched or heard anything.” In fact, people say, “If I could just hear God’s audible voice. . . . ” There is nothing in the physical universe that could cause that reaction in your brain, in your mind!
That bugged Lenin to his dying day. Where did that come from? “Well,” he said,” that’s an insidious lie instilled by those preachers, you know. That’s the opiate of the masses.” But wait a minute! Where did the preachers get this idea? So, yes, the very fact that we have this “God-consciousness,” you could say, a consciousness of the fact that somewhere God must exist, and therefore man seeks after Him, mostly in perverted ways, to use Him for his own ends. But, nevertheless, that is an evidence. A powerful evidence.
Tom: And only man has it.
Tom: You can look throughout the animal kingdom. We’ve mentioned this before—we don’t find them setting up churches—the gorillas, or chimpanzees, whatever, or even lower animals. It’s something . . . we are made in God’s image. There is this seeking after Him, a consciousness, that you can’t deny.
Dave: And yet those lower creatures, they have—in distinction to man—they have instincts that put us in a different category. We can’t even begin . . . the salmon that goes back after several years out in the ocean wandering around and goes back to the very stream that it came from! Or the eels from the Gulf of Mexico, and they’re born up in the fjords of Norway, and then their parents leave them, and a couple of years later, whenever, they make their way back to where their parents are, the place of their origin. Or the arctic tern—a . . . what, 5000-mile flight and ends up at that tiny little island? It took man a long time to learn how to do that with his instruments. Or the sparrow in England—it goes across the Sahara Desert down to South Africa, down to the Cape every year and makes its way back! Or how do they learn to build a nest? I look at a spider. When did it learn to spin a web? Or . . . I was out near our pond last night—well, feeding my trout, my babies—and here are the bats zooming through the air. I mean, that’s one of the reasons I have to feed the trout, because those bats are up there grabbing those insects before they can even land on the water. Well, when did a bat develop this high scream that we can’t even hear that bounces off of insects and directs him to them like radar and so forth?
Come on! They didn’t develop this; it didn’t come about by evolution! God gave it to them. He didn’t give us those qualities, but He gave us something much higher. He made man in His image and there is a hunger in the human heart, and if we will seek God, He will reveal himself to us. But, Tom, I don’t know where we got on this question you asked, because we were talking about the Bible. The Bible . . .
Tom: It’s all related, Dave.
Dave: The Bible is God’s Word, and it does ring true. When you read the Bible, it rings true in your conscience.
Tom: Well, I have another question right along that line. And, again, these questions aren’t questions that people wrote in. These are questions that you’ve had to deal with throughout your life in ministry, and you put them together in this book called In Defense of the Faith. Now, this question: “I was taught in seminary (and have read the same charge in a number of scholarly books) that the New Testament is not reliable because it was written centuries after the time of Christ by men who weren’t even alive in Christ’s day. The Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars with impressive credentials, makes this claim today. Is there any evidence to the contrary?” There’s a truckload, Dave. There’s an 18-wheeler, there’s a . . . we don’t have time for this, but in the next five minutes that’s what we have to deal with.
Dave: There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. First of all, Tom, who are The Jesus Seminar? Who are these scholars?
Tom: Yes, what credentials?
Dave: I’ve mentioned it before; I’ve debated the co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, Robert Funk, and the first thing I said to him (this was on a secular radio program) was, “Bob, you were born 1,900 years too late! Who are you to sit around and vote with your colored beads on what Jesus did or didn’t do, or what he said or didn’t say? You weren’t there! We have an eyewitness record, and we can prove it!”
Now, just logically, if this is not an eyewitness record—Peter claims to be an eyewitness, he says, “We were eyewitnesses to these things.” Luke—let me just look at Luke 1 here.
Tom: Well, while you’re looking that up, 1 John:1:1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” This is the beloved John.
Dave: Now, look, he’s lying if that’s not true!
Dave: If this is some pseudo-John . . .
Tom: And so is Peter . . .
Dave: Right, and the rest of them! If this is some pseudo-John or Peter, or Paul—Paul is telling us of his conversion. I mean, these are contemporaries of Christ. Paul was a contemporary, but he was not a Christian at that time—he became a Christian. Now, you’ve got a fraud on your hands if this was written centuries later by people who were claiming to be these people but really weren’t.
Now listen to the honesty of this man Luke. “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us. . . . ” These things happened in the tiny land of Israel. If you went to (I’ll hold my finger there, real fast, I know we are running out of time), if I went to Acts 26 for example . . .
Tom: While you’re finding it, 2 Peter:1:16: “For we have not following cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
Dave: Now, if this was written by somebody a century later, and he’s claiming to be writing for Peter, who was an eyewitness, it’s a fraud! It’s as simple as that. If this is a fraud, throw the thing out! Why do you study it in seminaries? Why do you study so hard?
Tom: Yes, seminarians and this Jesus Seminar—you know, certainly the Jesus Seminar—that’s what they’re saying without saying it.
Dave: And a lot of others. I mean many seminaries out there. Here, Paul [in] Acts:26:26, he is standing before King Agrippa, and he’s talking about Jesus and what He did, His resurrection and so forth. Listen to what he said, “For the King knoweth of these things, before who I also speak freely, for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him for this thing was not done in a corner.”
This is not some secret society! These are events, historic events, that happened. But listen, let me go back to Luke here for a moment: “Even as . . .” —well a lot of people were writing about this. They were putting down their accounts of this. They were talking about it : “Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed (Luke:1:2-4).”
So, here’s a man who says, “Look, I was there. I’ve interviewed these people that saw events that I didn’t see,” and furthermore, he is inspired of the Holy Spirit to put it down.
Tom: First and foremost.
Dave: Yes, now we have a record that we can examine! And I guess our time is gone, Tom, but we need to come back next week, and let’s examine this and put it under the microscope and see whether it holds up.
You remember Simon Greenleaf, the cofounder of the Graduate School of Law at Harvard—a very interesting man—and he examined the evidence. He was an agnostic. He examined the evidence, and he came to the conclusion that this is absolutely true. It will hold up in any court. There is no way you can deny it. And then he wrote a book, The Testimony of the Evangelists. I have a copy of that old book back there, in which he challenged the fellow members of the bar, his fellow lawyers, and he said, “The claims of this book are not only true, but Christianity says everything else is false.” You cannot ignore that. You are going to have to face this and check it out.