Friday, November 23, 2012

Voddie Baucham's "Why I Choose to Believe the Bible"

Below, you'll find a sermon titled "Why I Choose to Believe the Bible," by Voddie Baucham, along with an outline of its main points.

We often hear the objection that Christians engage in circular reasoning when they support our beliefs with Scripture. It's important to keep in mind that all arguments are circular when stripped down to their most essential form. Just as the naturalistic materialist ultimately rests on the presupposition that there is no God and no supernatural element to the world, the Christian ultimately rest on the presupposition that scripture is true. But there are very good reasons to believe that scripture is indeed true, and this sermon captures a number of them.





Main text: 2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV)

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Summary:
1. reliable collection of historical documents
2. written by eyewitnesses, during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses* (See the footnote at the bottom of this post for a clarification.)
3. reports supernatural events that fulfill specific prophecies
4. authors claim the text is divine, not human, in origin


Outline:

1. The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents. 

  • 66 books, 3 continents, 3 languages, 40+ authors, written over the course of about 1500 years
  • filled with names, times, places
  • over 23,000 archaeological digs have been performed--none has refuted historical facts from the Bible

Luke 1:1-4 (NASB)
"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught."


2. The Bible was written [largely] by eyewitnesses, during the lifetimes of other eyewitnesses.* (See the footnote at the bottom of this post for a clarification.)

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (ESV)
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." 
  • There had to have been a minimum of 300 living eyewitnesses when the book of 1 Corintians was written.
  • We have 6,000 manuscripts or portions of manuscripts for the New Testament alone (versus fewer than 12 copies of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, fewer than 10 copies of Aristotle's Poetics, and 0 manuscripts of the writings of Socrates--we know about him only through the writings of Plato). 
  • The earliest manuscripts we have of the NT date from around A.D. 120. within 2.5 decades after the original manuscripts were written (for Gallic Wars, the earliest manuscripts we have were written 1,000 years after the original; for Poetics, the earliest were written 1,400 years after the original; for Socrates, we've got nothing but Plato's accounts; and for Homer's Iliad, the earliest manuscript was written 2,100 years after Homer's time).
The "Telephone" Objection:
Bible translations are all based on original-language manuscripts--it's not like a game of telephone in which one translation is based on another translation, which was based on another translation.

The "Over-Zealous Monk" Objection:
  • In order for an "over-zealous monk" to have changed all the manuscripts, he would have had to have changed all 6,000 manuscripts in the Greek, then learned to lie in Syriac, Coptic, and Latin (changing these translations of the Greek NT as well). 
  • It's estimated that at least 95-98 % of NT can be reproduced from writings of early church fathers. These would need to have been changed by the over-zealous monk as well.
  • All this would have taken about 300 years. 

3. The Bible reports supernatural events that occur in fulfillment of specific prophesy.

Just one example:

Psalm 22 was written 1,000 before Jesus was born by a man who had never witnessed crucifixion because it hadn't been invented yet. Yet, it describes Jesus's crucifixion in detail (and Jesus cries out the name of this Psalm while on the cross--"Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani").

Psalm 22 (ESV)

[1] My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
...
[6] But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
[7] All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
[8] “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
...
[12] Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
[13] they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
[14] I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
[15] my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
[16] For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
[17] I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
[18] they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
...


4. The scriptures claim that they are divine, not human, in origin.

Main Objection: Unscientific/Defies Science
The scientific method can be used only to prove something observable, measurable, and repeatable. You can't use the scientific method to prove historical events (e.g., you can't prove that George Washington was our first president using the scientific method). 

For history, we use not the scientific method, but the evidentiary method, like that used in court.

When talking about history, we look for witnesses who are reliable, whose stories are corroborated.

For the Bible, we have 66 books, written in 3 languages, on 3 continents, by 40 authors, over the course of 1,500 years, with internal consistency and external corroboration (e.g., in the writings of Philo and Josephus; 23,000 archaeological digs).


Summary:

"I choose to believe the Bible because it's a reliable collection of historical documents written [largely] by eyewitnesses* during the lifetime[s] of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are divine, not human in origin. And oh, by the way--I tried it. Changed my life."


*Please note: It has been pointed out to me that Baucham's language is not very precise on the subject of eyewitnesses. Some of his statements could lead to the mistaken belief that every book of the Bible was written by an eyewitness to all the events therein. As we know, this is not the case. It is true, however, that the majority of the books of the Bible were written by eyewitnesses to at least some of the events they record and/or were written during the lifetimes of eyewitnesses, taking eyewitness testimony into account. The point still stands that the large quantity of eyewitness accounts recorded in scripture is compelling evidence for the reliability of the Bible.

***These notes and quotations are all paraphrased or directly quoted from the above sermon from Voddie Baucham.***

2 comments:

  1. Please could you post a link to a site discussing the evidentiary method

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  2. BTW, Voddie preached this in Perth, WA Australia just yesterday. Man, it was so encouraging!

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