How can we tell whether or not the Bible is telling the truth?


"Faith is often the boast of a man who is too lazy to investigate."

- F.M. Knowles

"...the Bible is nothing to me, only in so far as it agrees with what I think or know."

- Robert G. Ingersoll

3.1 An open mind: means to an end, or an end in itself?

"Rather than commit to believing the Bible, I prefer to keep an open mind." This is a common attitude heard today. Reasonable people agree that an open mind is good, but it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

The mind, like a jury, hears all the arguments and then must decide what to believe. For without coming to a verdict, open-mindedness can be the most closed-minded position of all if it persistently refuses to distinguish truth from error. To remain open to any belief, when many beliefs are false, is to be open to believing what is false - a logical dilemma. Therefore, we must discern what is believable from what is not. The question is how.

The truly open mind should seek an objective test of the Bible's claims. Such a test is found in the science of law. John Warwick Montgomery, noted English barrister and professor of law, introduces to New Testament apologetics the McCloskey and Schoenberg fourfold test for exposing perjury (from the work Criminal Law Advocacy). 1 Of concern are the possible internal defects and external defects of both the witness and of the testimony.

3.2 TEST ONE: Internal defects in the witness.

Is there evidence which suggests the witnesses, in our case the biblical authors, are untrustworthy or dishonest? No. There is no known predication for lying, insanity or habitual criminal activity by them. Those few authors who are known to have committed crimes (e.g., David for arranging the death of Bathsheeba's husband, Saul (later to be called Paul) for persecuting Jewish converts to Christianity) admit to their past and are openly remorseful for having acted in such ways.

In general, the frequent admissions of biblical authors' failings and weaknesses within their own writings assert the characteristics of honesty, humility, and repentance. Conclusion: there are no proven internal defects in the witnesses.

3.3 TEST TWO: External defects in the witness.

Were there motives on the part of the authors to lie; in particular, those who were witnesses to Jesus' resurrection?

It is unlikely in the extreme that multiple persons, isolated from one another, would each suffer torture and death for maintaining the same story if they were not completely convinced of its truth. Namely, that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament prophecies.

Consider that all eleven of Jesus' twelve apostles who witnessed his resurrection were executed for their undenied belief in him (all twelve when including Paul); three of whom were New Testament authors (four when including Paul). Also consider that,

They lost the possibility both of worldly wealth and of societal acceptability among their Jewish peers because of their commitment to Jesus. Might that very affection for and attachment to Jesus serve as a motive to falsify? Not when we remember that their Master expressly taught them that lying was of the devil. 2

Montgomery reflects on the apostles' opponents:

They had the means, motive and opportunity to expose the apostolic witness as inaccurate and deceptive if it had been such. The fact that they did not can only be effectively explained on the ground that they could not.

Clearly the risks and punishment for maintaining their convictions about Jesus outweighed what would have been the temporal rewards of changing their story. The same can be said of many of the prophets of the Old Testament who were killed by those they served. Thus no earthly net gain can be said to have been the authors' motive for their testimonies. Conclusion: there are no proven external defects in the witnesses.

3.4 TEST THREE: Internal defects in the testimony.

Are the New Testament writings inconsistent or self-contradictory? The four Gospels are accounts of Jesus' life by four different men. The accounts, covering many yet not all of the same events are not word for word identical. If they were identical, they certainly would be suspect.

Instead, the accounts are complementary; each providing different perspectives without contradiction. In fact, no where in the Bible has any contradiction been proven to exist. This assertion is not unchallenged, of course, and may be pursued under the category Objections. (For other specific challenges, try When Critics Ask by Geisler/Howe, or Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer. These are not the only books on the subject, but ones I've personally seen and respect. Also look here for online sources.)

3.5 TEST FOUR: External defects in the testimony.

Do biblical writings reflect what we know to be true from history, archaeology, and various sciences?

There is overwhelming support for the Bible in these fields and more. To support this claim, most of the remaining sections of this division (Veracity) look deeply into those fields with a special concentration on science and its pioneers (Christian and non) of both yesterday and today.



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NEXT: Does Archaeology confirm or deny the claims of the Bible?

See also:

Is there a God?

What do we know about Jesus - from non-biblical sources?

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If the Bible claims to be true, then a strategy must be found that can test that truth. Here is a strategy from the science of law.