Skeptics of Christianity often try to undermine the truth of Christianity by pointing to supposed errors or contradictions in the Bible.  As a result, some Christians have abandoned the faith, while others remain shaken in their faith.  This is unfortunate because the skeptics’ approach is fundamentally flawed.

We must distinguish between what makes Christianity true (an ontological question) and how we know Christianity to be true (an epistemological question).  Many people think it’s the Bible that makes Christianity true.  That’s why they question the truth of Christianity when they are confronted with supposed errors or contradictions in the Bible.  A moment’s reflection reveals this to be wrongheaded.  After all, couldn’t God have chosen to communicate the Gospel truths orally rather than in a written format?  Of course!  Indeed, that’s how it was transmitted in the early church.  If Christianity could still be true without any written Bible at all, then surely it could still be true even if the Bible contains errors.

After all, all works of history contain errors, and yet no historian concludes that the presence of errors means the entire account was made up or worthless.  They still believe most of the events described happened, even if they can’t be certain about every detail of those events due to errors in the reporting.  The same would be true of Christianity.  It’s the historical events surrounding the person of Jesus of Nazareth that make Christianity true – not the fact that they are recorded in the Bible.  So long as there was a man named Jesus who was crucified, died, buried, and rose again from the dead, then Christianity is true even if the Bible gets some minor details wrong.

The importance of the Bible is that it’s the means by which most people learn about the historical events surrounding Jesus.  Because it is our source of knowledge about Jesus, determining its accuracy is important to judging its truth value.  If it is filled with errors and contradictions, then it becomes too difficult for us to know what happened in history.  This topic is too weighty to address in any depth here, but suffice it to say that so long as the Bible is true in its salient details, the veracity of the historical events can be established.  And indeed, the Bible is reliable in its salient details.  The supposed errors* and contradictions pertain to peripheral details, not the core of the account, and thus they do not undermine the veracity of the major historical events upon which Christianity is based.

None of this is to say that the Bible is unimportant.  It is, and I’m grateful to have it.  It’s just to emphasize that our faith is grounded in the historical acts of God, not the written record of those acts.  The resurrection of Jesus from a tomb in Jerusalem 2000 years ago is what makes Christianity true.  How we come to learn about the resurrection is a secondary matter.

 

 

*As an inerrantist, I believe the original manuscripts were without error.  I am merely granting the possibility of errors for the sake of argument.

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