Tom: 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.
We’re going through Dave Hunt’s book In Defense of the Faith as a resource for tough questions regarding the reliability of the Bible. These are questions people have addressed to him over his many years of ministry, and, based upon some of the responses we received, the questions haven’t gone away.
Dave, as I mentioned before, going through In Defense of the Faith has encouraged me personally to consider the issues in the Bible that it’s sort of been my habit to kind of blow past.
Dave: Yeah, we come across things that are a little bit questionable or difficult. We know we believe the Bible, but “Let’s not investigate; let’s just move on.”
Tom: Yeah, or “We’ll come back to it,” which rarely do we.
Dave: But the atheists have gone through with a magnifying glass, a microscope, and they have found all kinds of things, and that’s what we’re trying to address.
Tom: Yeah, and as I said, personally, it’s been an encouragement for me, because it has. These things—when we wrestle with things that are difficult and we really get a handle on it, it’s a great encouragement to our faith, and so I’m encouraged. But I’m also encouraged (and you ought to be, Dave, as well) because many of our listeners have written to us that they feel the same way.
Let’s get to the first question for today: “There were at least fifteen apostles, but only four of them (Peter, James, John, and Paul) would be inspired to write the New Testament. Seems rather odd. One would logically expect many others to have written inspired accounts. How do we know there weren’t several other records written, which were lost, or even that all of the genuine works were lost or destroyed, and that the ones we have are frauds substituted in their place?”
You know I have to say about some of the questions, they are interesting, but they are also reaching. You know, you get that idea.
Dave: Well, but how do we know? Tom, you go ahead, you . . .
Tom: Dave, this is your question; it’s your book. I’ve got some questions on top of this question.
Dave: Well, first of all, the Bible is God’s Word, okay? So, God is going to watch over it. And He’s in charge of this process. When we work on that assumption, it kind of takes care of some of these questions. Furthermore, we have the early church. I don’t find any objection—for example we have Peter saying . . . talking about Paul’s writings as being scripture, and Peter doesn’t say, “Yeah, but there are some of them that got lost, unfortunately.” We don’t find any indication in the New Testament that there were other books.
Now, they do quote—the Old Testament is quoted, you know. We have the Book of Acts, and we have Christians writing letters back and forth to one another. We’ve got thousands of these letters. In fact, you could reproduce almost the entire New Testament except for, I think, fourteen or fifteen verses, that Christians have quoted one another. We don’t find them quoting some other book, and then we say, “Oh what happened? It’s lost. I guess there must be another book out there that was lost.” We have the councils meeting later on. They are arguing . . . . It was not until 397, Third Council of Carthage, that a council that set forth the 26 books of the New Testament. But many councils for a century before had been quoting from the New Testament. We don’t find anybody quoting from some other book—something else was written, and then it was lost and so forth.
There’s no need for other records. You say . . . . Well, you had fifteen apostles. I’m not sure, I’d have to go back and try to count them. But Paul was an apostle, so we have thirteen at least. Then he mentions some others, but we do have Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These are other records in addition to the apostles. Why do we need more? This is complete. There is no reason why there ought to be any other books.
Tom: Dave, I’m also thinking about the Old Testament—the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example. That gives us a fantastic . . . more than an indication—it’s definite that the . . . for example, the Book of Isaiah, which were one copy plus part of another copy of the Book of Isaiah. We can compare that with a copy, let’s say, as late as 900 AD. So we have basically 1,000 years from the time of the copy found of the Book of Isaiah with a copy 1,000 years later, and you can compare the two. And they are right on (as the English say), spot-on. Just right there.
Dave: You are talking about the copy of Isaiah that was found in the cave there at Qumran. . .
Dave: . . . among the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls. They now have an entire museum for it, and it’s stretched out around. Interesting building—they’ve got water being sprayed on the roof to cool it. They take great care of that. But, as you say, they thought there would be a lot of differences.
Dave: But in fact, there weren’t. But now we’re talking the New Testament. Now, how do we know about this New Testament?
Tom: Well, if God superintended the Old Testament . . . that’s my point. Let me just quote before you get to the New Testament. I want to quote Gleason Archer, what he says. He says, “The copies proved to be word for word [I’m talking about the Book of Isaiah, a thousand years apart]—the copies proved to be word-for-word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of slips of the pen, and variations in spelling.” So . . .
Dave: Yes, well God has preserved His Word—there’s no doubt about it. The New Testament is the Word of God. Now, there are some other books out there . . .
Tom: Which claim inspiration.
Dave: Right, the Aquarian gospel, for example. Just read it! It doesn’t have anything to support it. It just comes out of nowhere. There are no ancient documents. The New Testament, we have—what, more than 24,000 fragments, copies of the Greek New Testament to compare one with another to get back to exactly what the original was We’ve got so much documentation for the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament. We’re talking about the New Testament now.
But we have, of course, the Book of Mormon that claims to be a testimony of Jesus Christ. It claims that Jesus came to America and that He spoke to some ancient Hebrews who had come over there and become Indians, I guess. They have searched . . . the Book of Mormon, first of all, Tom—I think you want to read a little bit from it, but before we get to that—the Book of Mormon, first of all, doesn’t read like the Bible. It reads like almost a joke, in some places. You have King James English being spoken by these people 600 years BC. That’s 2,200 years before the King James Bible was published! And there are quotes, including the italics, by the way, from the King James Bible of 2,000 years later!
Tom: Take us back, Dave. Joseph Smith—how did he claim this process came about?
Dave: Well, he found, supposedly—was led to these golden plates, and he supposedly translated the golden plates.
Tom: And it was a translation given to him directly. This was not something he wrestled through over and over. This was an exact translation from the—was it the angel?
Dave: Moroni. This is what he claimed, yeah. But it reads like a childish novel in some places.
Tom: Let me give you an example, Dave. I’ll just read some of this. This is from the Book of Ether, and I am picking up with chapter 2:17, and he’s talking about these vessels, these barges, as they were called, that transported the people supposedly from the area of Israel to South America, the west coast of South America. It says, “And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, and that they would hold water like unto a dish. And the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish, and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish, and the ends thereof were peaked, and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish, and the length thereof was the length of a tree, and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.” Now, I could go . . .
Dave: Well, I don’t know how a dish got to be tight, but anyway . . .
Tom: Well, there was a problem. Let me go to verse 20: “And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared . . .” See, the problem was this was so tight . . .
Dave: Yeah, you couldn’t breathe.
Tom: . . . there was no light, and obviously they couldn’t burn anything in there because—well, we may get to that at the end of the message—there’s no light. So, “These problems, the brother of Jared,” who the Lord is addressing here, “he brought before the Lord. And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared, Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top and also in the bottom, and when thou shalt suffer for air, thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air, and if it be so that the water come upon thee, behold thou shalt stop the hole that ye may not perish in the flood.”
Now these barges were going to spend some time . . . anyone who would like—if you have, for example, Mormon missionaries come to the door, (and) if you don’t have a Book of Mormon, they will—and ask them to read or show you some of this from the Book of Ether. It’s—again, the point you’re making, Dave, is that this doesn’t even read like anything in the Bible. Yet this is its claim. This book . . .
Dave: So they’ve got a hole . . .
Tom: The Book of Mormon is on a par with the Scriptures.
Dave: Well, we’ve got a hole in the bottom of the barge, as well as a hole up in the top.
Tom: Right, because these vessels are going to spend a lot of time under water. I can quote you that. It says, “Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea, for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods I have sent forth.”
So God sends forth his storm on these vessels, and they’re going to be under water a lot. That’s why you’ve gotta plug these holes. Now, I’m not trying to mock Mormons, but I am asking them to check this out. Does this make sense? Is this the Word of God? [There is] no evidence at all.
Dave: Well, yeah, let’s talk about evidence, Tom. The Bible—last program, we went to Acts 13, Acts 16 [and] we noted some statements, for example, that the Governor of Cyprus was called anthypatos, a special term that they said, “No it couldn’t have been,” the critics said, but we found out, what do you know? He really was! We found a coin, and then we went to Acts 16 talking about Philippi, kolonia’s special status, and, “Oh no, that never was.” Well, what do you know? We find a medal!
In other words, the archaeologists dig up coin, medals, records, that verify what the Bible says. You couldn’t have made it up. The Mormon Church—they’re hanging their hat on the Book of Mormon. They have spent millions and millions of dollars. They have scoured South, Central, North America—they can’t find a pin, they can’t find a coin, they can’t even find the topography. They can’t find any evidence of any of this great civilization, the cities, and so forth. No one has found anything! You can’t even find the rivers, or the mountains, or the land that it talks about. You can’t find anything that matches that description!
But the Bible—the Israeli children today in their schools, they study their history from the Bible. If an archaeologist wants to know where to dig, he goes and follows the instructions . . . not the instructions—he follows the description in the Bible. It will tell you where a well was. They have found these wells. It will tell you where a city was, a town. The walls of Jericho, you know—we visited Jericho—fell down, and there they are to this day! We have an abundance of proof—record after record, in the stones, in the ground, and they’re in museums all over the world.
Book of Mormon? Can’t find anything. Not even a pin, not even a coin—nothing. And of course there are all kinds of other contradictions. It talks about elephants. There were no elephants here. It talks about animals that didn’t even exist at that time on this continent, and crops and so forth.
Well, the Bible is accurate. Okay . . .
Tom: Dave, I just want to throw this in there. One of the things that you’re saying here—and it’s not just in regard to Mormonism—but Christianity is historic.
Tom: It’s not a philosophy; it’s not just some ideas or some platitude that somebody came up with a long time ago. If it’s not historic, if these evidences aren’t available, then you and I are just wasting our time! We need to change the name of the program, get involved with something else.
Dave: Right. And, Tom, we’ve talked about it before, some people say, “Well, ‘faith. . . . ’” We have all kinds of faiths out there, and they think that faith is just kind of a leap in the dark. “Well, I’m going to be loyal to my faith. This has been my parent’s faith before me, and I’m going to hang in there. I was born a Catholic and I’ll die a Catholic, [I was born a Methodist, I’ll die a Methodist; I’m born a Hindu, I’ll die a Hindu].
Wait a minute! You’d better have some solid evidence, and that’s what we’re talking about. The Bible gives us solid evidence.
Tom: Dave, we just got a letter. Thursday is our day for staff prayer and devotions. We intercede for people, and this one lady wrote to us that she wanted prayer for her mother—85 years old and committed to Baha’i. Now there’s a little different situation. Baha’i is like trying to cover all your bases, not asking the question, “Is this true? Is this faith a historic faith? Is there evidence to support it?” So, on the one hand, it’s true that there are people who are digging in for what they grew up in: “I’m a Catholic from cradle to the last rites.” But there are other people who say, “I want to cover all my bases. I don’t care if this is true, or that—some of them may have it right here, and some may have it right here. I just want to be a part of what we think is going to help us in the end.”
Dave: Some people may wonder about Baha’i. Baha’i actually fits in very well with thoughts today—the atmosphere today—and that is “tolerance.”
“We’re not going to say anything is wrong,” so Baha’i tries to accept all religions and Bahá’u’lláh even said that the words that were uttered by Jesus Christ are true, are accurate: “We take what Jesus said as the truth.” But wait a minute! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life—no man comes to the Father but by me.” Jesus claimed . . . He said, “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers. You try to climb up to heaven some other way except through Me—I am the door.” Baha’i does not accept that. Baha’i says, “Oh, there are many ways!”
So it contradicts itself. It says, “Oh, we accept what Jesus said.” But they do not accept what He said. And they do not accept Him as God and who He claimed to be.
So, Tom, we not only have historical evidence, we also have to be rational. We’ve got to be consistent with the facts and with the evidence. You can’t just make it up as you go. We’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again: Don’t call yourself a Christian if you’ve made up your own Christianity. Call it something else. Call it Mr. Jones’s religion or Brown’s religion, or Smith’s, or whatever, but don’t call it Christianity if you do not follow what Jesus Christ taught and His example—the example that He gave.
And we say it to Muslims again. We’ve got this thing going on all the time: “Islam is peace.” Well, it never was peace! Give me one example where it ever brought peace. “Well, I’m a peaceful Muslim.” Well, then, you made up your own Islam. What’s the point? You can’t make up your own Islam; you must follow Muhammad’s teaching, the Qur’an, the Hadith, and so forth.
And the same thing is true. We have to be consistent with the Word of God.
Tom: Yet those who claim to have a religious perspective, especially those officials of whatever church it might be, they want to claim to be Christian? For example, we were talking about the Mormon Church. It’s pretty obvious they’re becoming more ecumenical. They want to be a part of the “brood,” as it were.
Dave: Well, the Mormon missionaries—this was many years ago now—twenty years ago, thirty years ago. They used to deny that they were Christians. They didn’t claim to be just another denomination. This was something special. “We have the prophet Joseph Smith!” In fact, supposedly the Lord, when he appeared to Joseph Smith, said all the Christian churches were corrupted. They were all wrong. They were an abomination. And he gave him the credentials for a new church.
Let me just read what their teaching is. I’m quoting now: “On the third day of April 1836 [boy, they’re very definite about this], the prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery [the prophet Joseph Smith gave us nothing but false prophecies. We could site many false prophecies. I mean, he’s a prophet? Anyway, they didn’t work out—what he said. But anyway . . . ], while in the Temple at Kirkland, Ohio, had the vision of heaven opened and Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before them and said, ‘Behold the time has fully come which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi testifying that he, Elijah, should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come to turn the hearts of the fathers, of children, and so forth. Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands, and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.”
So here’s Joseph Smith, who supposedly had a vision with Oliver Cowdery, and now Elijah appears to them, he gives him the keys of this dispensation . . .
Tom: Are these Latter-day keys? Because I thought Peter, according to the Catholics, got the keys.
Dave: Oh, yeah, but that got all messed up, and all the Christian churches were an abomination, and Joseph Smith is to restore this to the proper perspective. Now, he even got inspired to correct the Bible! So we have “the inspired version” of the Bible by Joseph Smith. It has thousands of differences between the Word of God . . .
Tom: He also puts himself in it as “the Joseph to come.”
Dave: That quote was from Doctrine and Covenants 110:14-16.
Tom: But you’re reading from a pamphlet that they’re passing out today. So this isn’t something you dredged up or dug up somewhere.
Dave: Right. No this is something they give you at the Temple as a visitor and so forth. Anyway, Tom, we have to take Joseph Smith’s word for it. There is no evidence. There is nothing in the rest of the Bible that would indicate that this was ever going to happen. He doesn’t have any other witnesses. He’s got Oliver Cowdery there and so forth.
But the point I was trying to make is they used to claim this was very special, and now they say, “Oh, we’re just another denomination.” They are trying to call themselves Christians; they want to be ecumenical, as you were saying—get in with all the other Christians and so forth.
I’m sorry. I don’t want to offend Mormons, but it’s a fraud! Check it out! There’s nothing to substantiate it, and furthermore, the whole doctrine that they teach of their salvation and so forth, it contradicts the Word of God. There’s a consistency in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but the Book of Mormon and the teachings, Doctrine and Covenants, and so forth, they contradict what God has established in his Word.
Dave: And outside of it, there is no salvation.
Tom: Right. So it isn’t just Mormonism. There are many religions coming together. Dave, the pope is leading today an ecumenical movement. All of these religions are coming together. That’s what the Bible tells us is going to happen.