Friday, November 22, 2013

Is the Bible really the Word of God? Part I: Historical Accuracy

Is the Bible really the Word of God? Is it inherent? Infallible? Completely without errors? If the Bible truly is the inspired Word of God, we must realize what this means. This would mean that Jesus really is the ONLY path that leads to salvation (all other religions would then be obsolete), that Jesus is God who came in flesh, and that we as people need to repent of our wickedness. These are just a few of the bold claims that the Bible makes. 

Therefore, before we get into whether or not the Bible is the Word of God (which we will explore in future posts), let us first ask: is the Bible historically accurate? 

The short answer is: yes, very accurate. Both the Old and New Testaments have been proven historically accurate through both archaeology and from what we know from other texts or inscriptions that date back to Biblical times. 

For example: the Old Testament talks about several ancient cities and nations, and sometimes gives names of the leaders of those cities and nations. We can match what archaeologists have found with what we read in our Bible. What do we find when we do this? That the Old and New Testaments are incredibly reliable, historically speaking. I will give you a couple specific examples as to the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Sir William Ramsay was a very well known archaeologist. He doubted the historical accuracy of the Bible. However, he thought that he would test what the New Testament said, specifically the book of Acts, which tells the history of the early church. After he came to a conclusion, he said this: "I began with a mind unfavorable to it...but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth (St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, p. 189)." He later said this: "Luke [the author of Acts] is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy...this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, p. 222)." Ramsay discovered that Acts was extremely accurate, and without error, historically speaking. He was so convinced that he was actually converted to Christianity!

Another example of Biblical accuracy is not only historical, but also implies proof of divine intervention. We all remember the story in Sunday school of God parting the Red Sea for the Israelites, and how He closed the parted sea on top of the Egyptians, killing every one of them. In the 1990's an interesting discovery was made in the Gulf of Aqaba, which is part of the Red Sea. Chariot wheels and axles covered in coral were discovered, along with a gold plated chariot wheel which matches what historians and archaeologists know chariot wheels of the Pharaoh looked like during the time of the exodus. The bottom of the sea looks like an ancient battlefield, with various coral growing on objects all over. This shows that the event we read in Exodus really did take place.This also implies that a "divine being" intervened, leaving the Egyptian army to rest at the bottom of the sea.

I could go on and on about the historical accuracy of the Bible. There have been thousands of discoveries that verify the Bible as historically accurate. However, many claim that while the Bible is in fact historically true, it is wrong in what it teaches about God and Jesus. Many even claim that over time the Old and New Testaments were changed, and what we have today is very much different than what was originally written down. If the Bible truly is the Word of God, would our omnipotent God not protect it? Of course he would. We will dive into this topic next week, to discover whether or not the text of the Bible has been altered over time. But for now, we can know that the historical component of the Bible is reliable and accurate.  

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