Program description: In this second part of our Dave and Tom classic radio program, they continue their fascinating discussion on the subject of Islam vs. the Bible, Allah vs. the true God, taking an honest look at the subject from many angles.
Gary: Welcome! You're listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I'm Gary Carmichael. In today's program, we continue our re-presentation of a selection from our Search the Scriptures Daily radio archives with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon. Originally broadcast in 2001, Dave and Tom address the question, “Do we have to study all religions in order to find the true one?” Along with Dave Hunt, here's Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re 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. Our topic for today’s program is, “The Reliability of the Bible,” which we’ve been discussing for a number of weeks. And we’ve been taking our time and carefully considering how trustworthy the Bible is, because if it’s not truly reliable, then we - meaning you, Dave - I, and everyone else on the planet have no sure way of hearing from God.
Dave: Unless there’s some other way now, Tom. Don’t eliminate other religions now.
Dave: Other holy books like the Qur’an.
Tom: We’re going to get to that.
Dave: Okay. All right; pardon me.
Tom: We don’t need the Bible to know or to prove that God exists. We’ve been over many programs dealing with that. But it’s imperative, it seems to me, that we have some objective way of knowing that He’s communicating specific information to us.
Dave: Yeah, because the Bible tells us things creation can’t tell you.
Tom: Right. If we have no such reliable way and we’re left with whatever an individual decides, figures out, guesses at, and so forth - well, then we change the name of the program, and we call it Search Our Best Guess Daily.
Dave: [laughing] Yeah, right.
Tom: What do you think about that?
Dave: Tom, I wouldn’t be interested at all, and yet that’s pretty much what a lot of these scholars say. They say the Bible isn’t reliable, and yet they study it! That baffles me.
Tom: We’re using Dave’s book In Defense of the Faith as a source of questions related to our topic, so let’s get right to our first one: “Since there are so many sacred books of various religions, all of which claim to be true, how can anyone be sure that the Bible is the true Word of God without examining the others? Even though another sacred writing might be mostly false, couldn’t it still have enough truth to make it worth the time and effort to examine all religious writings?”
Dave: Well, Tom, we’ve…
Tom: That’s a lot of time and effort.
Dave: Yeah, a lot of time and effort. We’ve talked about that in the past. You couldn’t live long enough. You have to become an expert on every religion out there? There may be some obscure religion somewhere off in the jungle that we haven’t even heard about, and they’re the ones that really have the truth. Well, you don’t arrive at truth by a process of elimination. Truth is truth! If it’s truth, it ought to bear witness to itself.
You know, I have a little bit of a mathematical background - I wouldn’t know what to do with a partial differential equation if it hit me over the head right now…
Tom: Say again? [laughs]
Dave: [laughing] Once upon a time, I could solve partial differential equations!
Tom: Dave, I’m having trouble just following those words, let alone the math involved!
Dave: That’s harmonics! That’s how you know how a bridge would wiggle and wobble in the wind, and why the one up there at the Narrows collapsed, and so forth. The engineer didn’t do a good enough job.
But anyway, nevertheless, mathematics can be very simple, too. And you don’t have to examine every possible combination of numbers to know that two plus two is four; I think you can prove that. And likewise, you don’t have to examine every lie in order to know what the truth is, and you don’t have to examine every religion to know whether the Bible is true or not. And of course we’ve been talking about this for some time - the Bible proves itself, and in fact, the Bible claims - it makes this claim, narrow-minded, dogmatic claim - but it makes the claim that all other scriptures are false. All religions out there are false. All gods out there except the one true God are false. Now, that’s a narrow-minded, dogmatic statement! However, it’s like saying that two plus two is four! That’s all there is, Tom! You can’t turn it into five or six, okay? That’s dogmatic, too.
Tom: Dave, it seems it gets even tougher than that. It says, “Check me out. If there are any errors, if there are any mistakes, then I’m invalid!”
Dave: You’re saying “I,” meaning the Bible?
Tom: Yeah, the Bible, right. Now, part of this question is that even though another sacred writing might be mostly false, couldn’t it still have enough truth? Now, Dave, what is that? You know - mostly false, enough truth?
Dave: Well, yeah, people do contradict themselves, and a person could make a statement… In philosophy, for example, if the one part of the statement doesn’t depend upon the other part of the statement. Part of the statement could be true and the rest of it false. So I can understand what this person is saying. Maybe there’s some truth in there.
Tom: But, Dave, this is from God! So…
Dave: No, no, wait a minute - they’re talking about other religions, other books.
Tom: Well, that’s right, but other religions claim to be - you mentioned the Qur’an. This is a miraculous book. It can’t have any error…
Dave: It claims to be miraculous.
Tom: Yes, it claims to be. So that’s my point. And then, let’s take it a step further: who decides which, and on what basis?
Dave: Right. But, Tom, that’s what a lot of people say about the Bible, of course - the modernists, the liberals - they say, “Well, the Bible contains the Word of God, but it isn’t the Word of God.” Now, that could be possible. There could be some parchment out there that is partially true and partially false. Now, why couldn’t that be the case with the Bible? We’ve got to address a couple things here: why we don’t have to search around, dredge through all the muck and mire of the lies out there to find out maybe there’s a little bit of truth in there.
You remember the old poem? Have we quoted it on this program? Well, I won’t quote the whole thing, but it ends like this… We have quoted it on this program:
“Who would leave the fountainhead
To drink the muddy stream,
Where men have mixed what God has said
With every dreamer’s dream?”
So I don’t have to dredge through all the ideas of men to come up with some nugget of truth. The Bible claims to be God’s Word. Furthermore, now why wouldn’t the Bible have some truth and some error? Why wouldn’t that be a possibility? Well, as you said, who’s going to decide which is true - right, which is which? So then we become the authors, not God. But the Bible is a book that hangs together. One part of the Bible depends upon other parts of the Bible, so if one part of the Bible is wrong, the whole thing is suspect now. But the Bible supports itself. That’s one of the marvels - we’ve talked about that before: 40 different writers, most of whom didn’t know one another - lived in different times in history, different cultures - and yet they don’t make any mistakes. None of them contradicts any of the others. So for every writer - you could say - every one of the 40 writers, you have 39 others backing him up. Now, that’s pretty powerful compared to - you mentioned the Qur’an. The Qur’an was written by one man. He claimed to receive this revelation from heaven - well, actually, from the angel Gabriel. He did not write it down. It was written down on leaves and pieces of parchment, or bark, or…
Tom: Whatever was available.
Dave: …whatever was at hand, some of which was lost and disputed and argued over, and finally put together years after his death. In fact, a new Caliph had everything else destroyed, and he determined what was the true revelation that Muhammad had received and had been written down. In fact, Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, she declared that - and I forget the passage now - but one particular passage when Muhammad was alive, when they had written it down, it had originally had 124 verses; and somehow in the final copy, it was missing 70 verses of those 124 or something like that.
Now, we have a book that only came through one writer, and it’s of uncertain origin and preservation, whereas the Bible - it’s by 40 different writers; each one complements and checks out on and coincides with - you know, they all tie in together.
Furthermore, the Masoretes, for example - the copyists of the Old Testament - they were so careful, they counted the letters on every page. They considered this to be God’s Word. They worked carefully. Now…
Tom: Dave, even prior to that, they felt - prior to the Masoretes - they had to bathe themselves - this was a holy, sacred, religious duty…
Tom: …and they took it seriously.
Dave: To make copies.
Tom: Because the claim is it’s God’s Word. Now, before you go on, the criterion that we’re talking about has to be the same for every book that claims to be the Word of God.
Dave: Exactly. Exactly. We’re not playing favorites.
Dave: We’re not going to give the Bible an easier test than we would give anything else.
Tom: What’s the point? Either we’re hearing from God, or we’re not. And if we’re not…
Tom: …as I said, we change the name of the program, or go fishing, or do something.
Dave: And I know you love to fish, Tom. And exactly as God says, this is His Word. If it isn’t His Word, we’ve got troubles. You said that. I mean, we’ve got nothing. Forget it. Just people’s opinion. But if it really is - and this only makes sense if God intended to communicate with man; and if in fact He did so, I think that God would make certain that it was preserved, that He spoke clearly, that He spoke in a way that men could know that He had spoken. They could examine this, and they could be confident that He had spoken, and that what was preserved was indeed God’s Word. If not, what was the point of God going to the trouble to inspire prophets - if he did - if we wouldn’t have any way of checking up on them and really knowing? So this is what the Bible offers us: you can check it out, you can test it, and no other book stands up to those criteria.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, we keep saying this over and over again - the name of this program is Search the Scriptures Daily, and we just did - I know this show is taped - but earlier this week we did a live broadcast in which we took questions, and one of the things that concerned me, whether they be people who encouraged us in what we’re doing, or some who called were taking issue with the Bible, and - now, correct me if I’m wrong - didn’t you ask a person if he’d ever read the Bible? Somebody who had objection to it - and the guy said, “Well, just a little bit here and a little bit there.” We encourage people to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. You talked about 40 authors, men inspired by God to…
Dave: That was their claim.
Tom: That was their claim. Now…
Dave: They did not…
Tom: …you’ve got to check one out against the other. One writing a thousand years before another - compare them, and it’s not that… But my point is, Dave, we want to encourage people to read God’s Word. It’s not that difficult. They can start with the New Testament, [then] go to the Old Testament to Genesis. But if you want to know what God has to say, you’ve got to read His Word. You’ve got to get into a practice of it.
Dave: You have to read the whole thing, actually.
Dave: I’m tempted to quote that poem again about reading the Bible through, but…
Tom: Quote it again!
Dave: You think so?
Tom: That’s what we’re here for! Some people have heard it before, some haven’t, but I like to hear it. I’m impressed that - your memory, Dave… You’re able to [laughs] put these things together, and draw them out.
Dave: I don’t think I - I may not have this exactly right, because I don’t think I ever saw it in print…
Tom: Well, nobody’s going to…yeah.
Dave: …but I did - the man who led me to Christ, I did hear him on several occasions quote this, and I think I remember it. [laughs]
“Yes, I thought I knew my Bible,
Reading piecemeal, hit or miss -
Now a bit of Psalms and Proverbs,
Now a verse in Genesis;
Certain chapters of Isaiah,
Certain Psalms - the twenty-third,
Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs,
Yes, I thought I knew the Word.
But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read my Bible through.
You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble here and there
Just before you kneel a-weary
And yawn through a hurried prayer;
You who treat the crown of writings
As you treat no other book -
Just a paragraph disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look.
Try a worthier procedure -
Try a broad and steady view.
You will bow in very wonder
When you read the Bible through.”
And through and through.
Tom: And, Dave, that’s not for scholarship…
Tom: …that’s for getting to know Him. We had a lot of great questions in our two-hour program earlier this week. Dave, we took a lot of calls, and the people had questions, and these are questions they didn’t have to ask you about or ask me. If they had an understanding of the Bible, they would have had their own answers. They were relatively simple things that they could know by being familiar with the Scriptures.
Dave: See, the reason why we need to be familiar, Tom, and we need to read it through is because the Bible is a unique book, as we just said - 40 different authors, but they complement one another. It all hangs together. You understand the New Testament by knowing what the Old Testament says, because the Old Testament is the foundation for the New. You understand the Messiah, for example, by knowing the prophecies concerning the Messiah, and so the whole thing hangs together - and it’s like a painting, you know? You look at just one part of a painting, you don’t get the perspective; you don’t get the overall picture.
Tom: You know, again, it’s like a rich tapestry: you get to see the whole composition in front of you, but then when you begin to look at detail, you see how these things interweave, and complement one another, and it’s just fantastic.
Tom: Dave, let me just keep going down that line, because here’s a good example of what I mean: there were some people out there who were - these were Christians who were calling in, and they were a little concerned, because although the issue was jihad, holy war, and what Islamic fundamentalists were doing - you know, the attacks and so on - they came back and said, “Well, wait a minute - didn’t God in the Old Testament - didn’t He send the Israelites out, and didn’t they destroy these people and destroy that people?”
Well, you came back and said, rightly so, [that] you can find what God did with regard to having people go into the land of Canaan, and you established that - that this was specific for a particular reason. God didn’t just say, “Now go in. You’ve waited 400 and some years till the iniquity of the Ammorites,” and so on.
Dave: It was because of the wickedness, and He never told the Israelites to take over the rest of the world.
Dave: He gave them particular land, right? Yeah.
Tom: Now, people would - my point is…
Dave: Well, but you have to…
Tom: …but you would know that.
Dave: Well, but you know it, Tom, that - you know, we read things in the Bible, but sometimes we don’t put them together.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Right.
Dave: And so the Bible must be read with some rational understanding and logic, and one part of the Bible helps us understand another part of the Bible.
Dave: But now, getting back to the Bible itself, it claims to be God’s Word. It makes that claim. In fact, “Thus saith the Lord,” or, “The Word of the Lord came unto me,” things like that - statements like that of divine inspiration - are found about 3,800 times.
Tom: Yeah, you could just look at the Book of Ezekiel - start with each chapter: it said, “The Word of the Lord came unto me. The Word of the Lord came unto me.” [chuckles] It’s either true, or this whole thing is a fraud!
Dave: Right, and if it is true, then other books - other sacred writings - are false, because this book claims to be God’s Word, and it definitely contradicts the Hindu Vedas, for example; it contradicts the Qur’an…
Tom: The Book of Mormon.
Dave: Oh, it certainly does! The Qur’an contradicts the Bible. The Qur’an, for example, says that one of Noah’s sons, [San?], refused to get in the ark and was drowned. But the Bible says they all got in - that he had three sons, and they had three wives. They each had a wife, and so forth - there are so many contradictions! It has…the Qur’an, for example, has Mary giving birth to Jesus under a palm tree out in the desert somewhere, and her husband isn’t even there. The Bible says, “No, Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem,” and it tells you why: because there was a decree from Augustus Caesar that the world would be taxed, and Joseph had to go to the city of his origin, not under a palm tree! So either the Bible… If the Bible is truly the Word of God, which we can prove, then these other books are not the Word of God.
Tom: Especially where they contradict, where they take issue… Well, for example, Muslim scholars in defense of the Qur’an say that the Bible is corrupted, and they’re straightening the information out.
Dave: Now, we have a problem there, Tom, because in the early part of Muhammad’s inspiration from Gabriel, he cites the Bible as being authoritative. In fact, Gabriel - if this is Gabriel really talking to him, and Allah speaking to him - says that when he wants an understanding, he should consult the people of the Book, because they have the understanding! Well, then later on he contradicts the Bible; he turns against the Bible when he turned against the Christians and the Jews because they did not accept his claim of inspiration. So then, if the Bible is corrupted, it had to be corrupted between the time when Muhammad wrote the first part of the Qur’an, saying, “You should consult the people of the Book, because they have the understanding,” and when he later began to contradict the Bible. But we have manuscripts that date way back long before this!
Tom: Well, we have the Dead Sea Scrolls; the Old Testament laid out, the Book of Isaiah…
Dave: And New Testament manuscripts, as well…
Dave: …long before Muhammad!
Tom: Well, people should understand that the Qur’an was written in the 7th century AD.
Tom: Dave, our point here is that the Qur’an was written after the Old Testament and the New Testament, for people who don’t know that.
Dave: But it still could have been the truth. They say that Muhammad was the 28th prophet. Jesus was the 27th, and Muhammad came to perfect and to correct the errors. That is only if there were errors. That is only if the Bible is not true. But if the Bible is true, and the Qur’an contradicts it, or the Book of Mormon, or the sayings of Confucius, or whatever, or you and I - that’s why we say, “Search the Scriptures!” Check us out, as well. We must have an authority. We must have an authority that is valid; that can only be God himself and His Word. Check us out from the Bible.
Gary: You've been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. To listen to more programs from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives, they are all posted at our website. We offer many useful resources to help you in your study of God's Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I'm Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.