How can I trust what the Bible says is true?
Vaughan Roberts, St Ebbes Church
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Many people assume that the Bible simply can’t be trusted and if you can’t trust the Bible then you can’t trust Christianity, because the whole of the Christian message comes from the teaching of the Bible.
And that was my view—I thought the Bible was just full of myths. And then I thought again, and I want to tell you why I changed my mind.
For a start, I discovered that the Bible is absolutely rooted in real history. So you don’t just have to look to the Bible, you can look to other ancient historians for references to Jesus—the Roman historians Pliny and Tacitus, and the Jewish historian Josephus, all refer to the life of Jesus—his teaching and his miracles. Josephus even refers to the resurrection of Jesus. The Bible’s rooted in history.
And the Gospels themselves are written by people writing about 35 years after the events they describe, Most experts would say Mark was the first of the New Testament Gospels, probably written in the late 60s or so AD. Given that Jesus died in the early 30s, there would have been plenty of people around who had seen Jesus with their own eyes and heard him with their own ears, who could have said: “No, it wasn’t like that!”
Two of the Gospel writers (Matthew, who wrote the first gospel, and John who wrote the fourth) were eyewitnesses themselves. They actually followed Jesus, and were amongst the first disciples. Then there’s Luke, who’s very interesting: he tells us at the beginning of his Gospel that he went to great efforts to make sure that what he was writing was based on eyewitness testimony. He’s claiming to be a very serious historian.
Now you could say he was just lying to persuade people to follow Jesus; but why lie like that when you know that what you’re saying matters very much. If you’re claiming that Jesus is the truth, why base it all on a lie? Especially given that most of the early Christians suffered greatly for their faith, and a number of them died. Many people in human history have died for things that are not true, but would you die for what you knew wasn’t true, because you’d invented it?
But the main reason why I’m convinced the Bible can be taken seriously and have changed my mind is because of the person of Jesus Christ. I read it, and I was bowled over by this very remarkable man, the most remarkable man who’s ever lived. It was as if he just walked off the pages and into my life.
So if you’ve got questions about Jesus Christ, if you’ve got questions about whether you can trust the Bible, the best thing you can do is read one of the New Testament accounts, the Gospels, for yourself.
And if you do then, like me, you’ll have all sorts of questions—and I’d encourage you to find a Christianity Explored course near you, and go and ask your questions — all questions are welcome.
There’s far, far more that can be said about this issue! And if you’re still curious, or want to think about things more deeply, here are a few suggestions:
Find a Christianity Explored course near you
Christianity Explored is an informal and relaxed seven-week course looking at Mark's Gospel. You can ask any question you like and you’ll meet some people who will listen to you, explain what the Bible says, and who (crucially) you can trust not to gossip, judge or sneer.
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Can I really trust the Bible? is a short, readable book that explains clearly and simply what Christians believe about the Bible and how God speaks today.
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Read Mark's Gospel
Mark's Gospel is an account of the life of Jesus. It takes about an hour to read in full, though like any book you can read it in sections.
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