Is the Bible accurate? Is the Bible reliable? In this Tomorrow’s World episode, Wallace Smith answers five arguments about the authority of the Bible, the value of Scripture for all people, and the history of the Bible.
[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
The Bible is, beyond any doubt, the most influential book in human history. Today, it is dismissed by many as unreliable; filled with superstition and best not taken completely seriously. Yet, if this book truly is what it claims to be—the word of God—then there is no book on earth that you should take MORE seriously.
Greetings, and welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. Today, you and I are going to debunk five myths about God’s word, the Holy Bible, and demonstrate how they are little more than fantasies, wielded by those uncomfortable with what God has to say about the world—and about their lives.
Here’s our first one: That…
The Bible is historically unreliable.
Many claim that the Bible is filled with myths and made-up stories, but nothing could be further from the truth. Time and time again, when historians and the Bible conflict, the fight goes in the Bible’s favor.
For instance, many skeptical historians believed that the Hittites were a fictional kingdom of Old Testament stories—until they discovered the empire, exactly as the Bible described! In the 19th century the ENTIRE CAPITAL of the Hittite people was discovered, along with their royal archive containing thousands of ancient records related to their vast empire.
The critics mocked the Bible, until, in all their digging, real history mocked THEM and vindicated the Bible!
This is the pattern: Skeptics doubt the Bible and are proven wrong. We don’t have NEARLY enough time to list the countless ways that archaeology has shown the Bible to be trustworthy, but let’s look at a few.
Archaeological evidence for major individuals in the Bible continues to be found. Figures in the Old Testament, like King Hezekiah, King Ahaz, and the infamous Queen Jezebel—as well as figures in the New Testament, such as Pontius Pilate and High Priest Caiaphas—all show up in various artifacts or ancient records as historians continue to press into the past.
For some time, the Bible’s King David was widely considered a myth, like England’s King Arthur—until excavations uncovered an Aramaic stone inscription in the ancient city of Dan, referring to “the king of the house of David.”
One of my favorite discoveries is not of a famous person. In 2007 an archaeology professor from Vienna was examining a small, 25-century-old clay fragment from ancient Babylon—essentially, a receipt for a payment made to a sun-worship temple. In ancient cuneiform writing, it bore the name “Nebo-Sarsekim,” a chief of eunuchs. Well, who cares? Well, the same individual is mentioned in the same position in the biblical book of Jeremiah!
And think about it; this isn’t a “big name” person.
If the Bible were full of fiction, getting the names of FAMOUS people right might be easier to explain. But the names of the non-famous people? Getting them right, too, would be remarkable!
It’s never wise to bet against the Bible when it comes to history! Mock the Bible, and, eventually, the facts mock YOU.
So, let’s turn to our second myth. This myth claims that…
The text of the Bible has been dramatically changed over the centuries.
I have some sympathy for those who believe this without researching it. After all, the Bible is a collection of books, the most recent of which was written almost two thousand years ago—and the oldest of which was written thousands of years before that!
Given that were no digital hard drives or photocopiers, the words of the Bible had to be meticulously hand-copied from one document to another, century after century.
How could it be even remotely possible that the text was faithfully preserved?
Yet an unbiased look at the evidence shows that this is exactly what happened.
For instance, before the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the oldest copy of the Book of Isaiah dated back only so far as 1,000 AD. The discovery of scrolls containing the text of Isaiah among the Dead Sea Scrolls, including one nearly full copy of the book, pushed that date BACK a full THOUSAND YEARS or more, to the century before Christ. And the level of accuracy in transmission over those thousand-plus years was remarkable.
In Romans 3 and verse 2, the Apostle Paul notes that God entrusted the transmission of the Old Testament to the Jews, and their traditions of meticulously copying the texts have served us well. Counting the words in each book, the occurrences of each letter in each book, and performing other mind-numbingly detailed checks—their traditions were designed to ensure the accuracy of the words from parchment to parchment, with the care and devotion that the word of God deserves.
So, what about the New Testament?
The evidence is clear that it, too, contains a faithful record, transmitted through the centuries. Even fragments such as the Rylands Library Papyrus containing a fragment of the gospel of John and dating within 50 years of the ORIGINAL WRITING of that gospel validate how well the text has been transmitted.
Yes, errors and mistakes HAVE taken place. Yet, more manuscript evidence for the New Testament exists than for any other ancient document. And within that vast collection of copies, the fact that the original message comes through loud and clear to our time is made plain.
Even detractors of the Bible admit this fact. As popular Bible scholar, critic, and skeptic Bart Ehrman admits,
“To be sure, of all the hundreds of thousands of textual changes found among our [New Testament] manuscripts, most of them are completely insignificant, immaterial, of no real importance for anything other than showing that scribes could not spell or keep focused any better than the rest of us.” (Misquoting Jesus, p. 207)
The vast number of manuscripts illustrate that, rather than changing dramatically over two thousand years, the original message of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ continue to shine through, undamaged by time.
We should not find this surprising in the least, as Jesus Himself declared in His famous Olivet Prophecy,
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” [Matthew 24:35]
So, no, the text of the Bible has NOT been dramatically changed over the centuries. In fact, it has been miraculously preserved.
Myth #3 is that…
The Bible was assembled by the Roman Catholic Church.
This is often claimed by individuals who want to say that the Roman Catholic Church chose what books would be a part of the Bible, with political motivations and to crush opposing ideas or unwanted versions of the faith.
Yet this claim is baseless fantasy.
First, it is clear that the 66 books of the Bible were recognized as Scripture long before any Roman Catholic councils could have claimed to make them “official.” The Jewish first-century historian Josephus writes of the Old Testament and the Jews of his day—and Jesus’day—“For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from, and contradicting one another: [as the Greeks have:] but only twenty two books: which contain the records of all the past times: which are justly believed to be divine.” [Josephus, Against Apion 1.8]
Some of those 22 books were later broken up into multiple pieces, such as 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, and the twelve Minor Prophets. They make up the 39 books of most modern Old Testaments.
As for the 27 books of the New Testament—all of them written by first-century apostles and disciples and concluding with the book of Revelation—the testimony of their authenticity is ancient. Later councils of various versions of Christianity could only recognize those books that were ALREADY recognized and could not be refuted. In fact, as my old pastor John Ogwyn used to say, one of the best proofs that the Roman Catholic Church did not decide on the canon of the New Testament is that they would never have approved so many books that directly contradict their teachings!
And the Bible, itself, contains evidence that the New Testament authors knew they were collecting God’s word. The Apostle Peter, for instance, refers to the letters of Paul as “Scripture” [2 Peter 3:16] and tells his own readers in 2 Peter 1:15, “Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”
A careful review of the history of the Bible, along with its own internal evidence, shows that its books were settled long before any Roman Catholic council ever convened about anything at all.
Our next myth is a particularly popular one. That myth claims that…
The Bible is racist and misogynistic.
Again, such claims bear no connection to reality.
On these matters, the Bible is abundantly clear. Turn to Colossians 3 and verse 11. There you see the teaching of the Bible as plain as day:
“… there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” [Colossians 3:11]
To many in the first century, the idea that Jew and Greek could be seen as equal in the sight of God was scandalous. Yet, the words of the Bible are clear: The salvation it describes is open to all, regardless of race, tribe, nationality, or ethnicity!
In fact, in 1807, when William Wilberforce published his famous [A] Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which played such a crucial role in ending that terrible practice in the West, he cited that passage in Colossians, as well as others in the book of Acts, the gospels, and other places to support his contention.
Far from being racist, the Bible provides the only sure witness to the divine potential of every human being, regardless of race.
As for the idea that the Bible is somehow “anti-woman,” that despicable lie has been allowed to go on for far too long!
In a similar passage to that in Colossians, the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:28,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
In God’s eyes, men and women have equal potential to become His children in His Kingdom. In fact, the Apostle Peter writes that husbands and wives are “heirs together of the grace of life.”
So, where do such lies about the Bible being misogynistic come from?
Some are based on a misunderstanding of God’s laws, statutes, and judgments in the Old Testament. Accusers who want to discredit the Bible fail to acknowledge how the laws of God protected women from harm and from abuse, required men to treat them with dignity instead of like property as so many ancient cultures did, and acknowledged that women, like men, were made in the image of God. Rather than only being the story of God working with men in the world, the Old Testament records stories of courageous women whom God used and inspired, such as Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, and Esther.
It’s true that the Bible does teach that men and woman have different but complementary roles to play, such as in the traditional family. And it’s true that many modern, feminist scholars depict marriage and family life as mere tools for keeping them from satisfaction and happiness. But is that true?
Not according to research! As reported in an October 2022 article in Newsweek by Brad Wilcox and Alysse Elhage [“Why Conservative Women Report Being the Happiest—and How You Can Be, Too”], respectively a Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia and the Editor of Family Studies, married mothers are “more financially prosperous” and more likely to be “‘completely satisfied’ with their lives” than childless, single women, who are “about 60 percent more likely to report feelings of loneliness compared to married mothers.”
The authors conclude,
So, if you wish to be a happy and prosperous woman, don’t listen to the me-first Gospel proclaimed by our ruling class that encourages you to delay marriage—or even to toss it aside altogether. Instead, be open to the gifts of marriage and children and look for opportunities to embrace family life as a key part of a rich and meaningful life. Therein lies the better path to a more prosperous and happy future for today’s women.
The traditional family recommended to women in the pages of the Bible—versus the anti-family vibe pressed by our culture—tends to make women happier, more satisfied, and more financially secure. So if you want misogynistic, anti-woman attitudes, you might consider looking in Hollywood or modern universities—but you won’t find them in the Bible.
So far, we’ve looked at, and debunked, four myths about the Bible:
In fact, as we discussed this last myth, we mentioned an important element that related to the final myth we’ll debunk today. Myth #5,
Yes, many like to mock the Bible, claiming it is nothing more than a text written by Bronze Age goatherders, filled with ignorant, outdated ideas that simply don’t apply in our modern world.
But we’ve already seen one example in which the Bible is ahead of our modern world: its guidance concerning the structure of the family and the path to happy and fulfilling womanhood.
No matter how hard our society tries to press new, man-made values on humanity, the deep longings of our hearts are still in line with the designs of our Creator.
It is not a coincidence that women seeking to align their lives with the patterns of life revealed in the laws of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ and His disciples, as recorded in His word, are generally the happiest. Because the Bible was inspired by the Designer and Creator of humanity. He knows how we tick, how our minds and our hearts work, and how we were designed to interact with each other.
So much of the suffering we see around us in our modern relationships—broken families, growing epidemics of sadness and depression, and tensions in society—are addressed directly in its pages.
In the pages of Scripture, you find inspired instruction from the omnipotent, all-knowing Creator of life concerning…
Which of these areas of life no longer apply?
And time and time again, experience teaches us that the principles of the Bible work. Far from just a collection of goatherders, you will find among those who penned its words people of all walks of life—kings, commoners, scholars, laborers, governors, fishermen. Even a doctor and a tax collector. But inspiring all of their words, to be recorded forever, was the God of Creation, who designed life itself, who loves us, whose character is the pinnacle of that which is good and right, and who sent His Son into the world that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly.
Frankly, there is no book on earth MORE relevant than the Bible.
And even further—while its pages were written thousands of years ago, the God who inspired its words is the One who saw the days ahead of us even more clearly than we can see them now without Him.
As the Eternal and Ever-Living Author of the Bible declares in Isaiah 46 [vv. 9–11]:
Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,” calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. [Isaiah 46:9–11]
Truly, the future is already a reality in the mind of God. Compared to His understanding of today AND tomorrow, we are the ones who are “out of date”!
That’s why we say here at Tomorrow’s World that our goal is to help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. Because the Bible is the mind of God in print, and it’s ONLY within its inspired pages that your world ever WILL truly MAKE SENSE.
The principles, promises, and prophecies of the Bible provide those who will live in their light with powerful understanding of modern life and how to live it—even the purpose of life itself. And you will not find that understanding anywhere else.
So, the idea that the Bible is out-of-date and irrelevant to modern life? A foolish myth if there ever were one.
The myths we’ve debunked today, and many others like them, tend to be thrown out by those trying to discredit God’s word. Sometimes they are thrown out foolishly by those who should know better, and other times they are claimed in ignorance by people who are simply repeating the things they’ve heard without taking the time to research and learn for themselves.
Such individuals have made such claims for centuries. And as they have lived the dissolute lives that result from ignoring the words of life and then died as all men do, the Bible has outlasted them all and has remained. Steadfast, unchanging, century after century, generation after generation—God’s word endures.
Jesus Christ told us that His teachings, recorded in the Bible as they are, would outlast all of its detractors. Again, we see His prophetic promise waiting for us, as it has for two thousand years, in Matthew 24 and verse 35:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
That promise is reported three times in the pages of sacred scripture. It has been true for the last 20 centuries. And it will remain true for all time.
Can anything similar be said of any work that mankind has ever created? Is there any other book in existence whose words will last for eternity? Or whose words can bring us into CONTACT with eternity?
And so is there any other book more worthy of our time to get to know and to understand?
I hope today’s episode will spur you to dive deeply into the word of God—to open it up, to appreciate it anew, and to understand it for what it is: a gift from your Creator that bears the words of life.
Thanks so much for watching! All of us work hard here at Tomorrow’s World to help you truly make sense of your world through the pages of your Bible.
If you would like to learn more, please click on the link below for The Bible: Fact or Fiction?
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Is the Bible just a collection of myths and legends, or is it the inspired word of God? Many assume that modern scholarship has discredited the Bible, but the facts of history—and the discoveries of archaeology—confirm its contents to be true! The Bible recounts the past with amazing accuracy—and it predicts the future like no other book!
Most of the world has been misled and misinformed about the Bible. You need to understand the truth—and how it can affect your life!