Showing posts with label Christian Evidences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian Evidences. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

CHRISTIAN EVIDENCES (APOLOGETICS): Inspiration of the Bible - Historical Accuracy (published 3-14-2023; article #394; series article #6)

Photo (6/29/2020) by Aaron Burden on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License.


The above photograph, selected for this topic question, is fitting – except that the path should be straight. The Bible is the only book, inspired by God, that guides us along the straight path, to the Light. Imagine that the photograph looks east, to the rising sun.

Greetings, for the sixth time, to this series on Christian Evidences (Apologetics), dear reader and student. I trust that you are well. My wife and I are doing well enough, by God's grace, in this new year. Thank you for your continued interest in this vitally important series. This article is dedicated to my late maternal grandfather, as the conclusion will state.

The introduction to this series was on 10/28/2022. The undeniable truth that God exists was established by the articles of 11/4/2022, 11/16/2022, and 11/26/2022. The article of 12/9/2022 discussed what is known about God's character from natural revelation. That article also discussed the so-called “problem of evil” and the concept of hell.

The writing of sixteen articles, since 12/9/2022, and other interests and obligations have delayed the publication of this article until now. The occasional research and writing had continued, since last November. Sifting through volumes of information, to select specific sources, for inclusion in this relatively brief article, has taken time also.

This article will begin to answer the third topic question in this Christian Evidences series: is the Bible the solely-inspired written word of God? “Bible” is transliterated from the Greek, βίβλος, which means “Book.” The Bible, thus, is the Book.

Important Preliminaries

First, however, certain important preliminary points need to be made. Then, this third topic question will begin to be answered. The preliminaries include the concept of inspiration, the Canon of Scripture, and the art and science of textual criticism.

Please be aware that the preliminaries do not get “the cart before the horse.” The reasoning will not be circular (i.e., by the logical fallacy of stating that the Bible is inspired by God, because it says so). The preliminaries include website references to scholarly articles, for further personal study.

The Concept of Inspiration

The Bible defines the concept of its inspiration. In his second letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

“God-breathed” is translated from the Greek, θεόπνευστος, which means, literally as translated, “God-breathed.” The King James Version translates the Greek word, also correctly, as “is given by inspiration of God.”

During His 40 days and nights of temptation by the devil, Jesus replied to the devil:

It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4, NIV)

Jesus quoted exactly from Deuteronomy 8:3. To read the Bible, thus, is to read God's breathed words, through His inspired writers. Every written word is from God.

During the Passover meal, Jesus comforted His disciples by stating:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26, NIV)


But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13, NIV)

Regarding the prophets, the apostle Peter stated that they “. . . spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21, NIV). See also 1 Peter 1:12. God the Father, by God the Holy Spirit, spoke His word to the biblical writers, who wrote the very words of God.

The concept of inspiration, therefore, is that God inspired, completely, each and every word written by the authors of the Bible. This is often called verbal plenary inspiration. The concept of “dynamic equivalent” or “thought” inspiration, as it is called, therefore, is incorrect, according to scripture. That false concept states that God inspired the “thoughts” of the authors, not their words. Of course, that concept fails to understand that thoughts consist of mental images and words.

Inspiration, however, was not by divine dictation that excluded the personalities and writing styles of the inspired authors. Those characteristics are distinct and noticeable. Also, grammatical mistakes, such as the one that I am making now, does [sic] not disprove inspiration or indicate divine mistakes. They are only grammatical mistakes. (I should have written, “Grammatical mistakes . . . do not . . . .”) The inspired authors wrote in various languages and writing styles, which include grammatical mistakes.

Inspiration applies to the original manuscripts (autographs), which no longer exist. Thousands of early manuscript copies, however, exist and have undergone scholarly study. The study of those copies (textual criticism) confirms, by abundant and convincing evidence, that the Canon of Scripture has been transmitted accurately through the centuries. (See the section, below, on The Art and Science of Textual Criticism.)

Translations – of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek into other languages, such as English – are not inspired. Accurate translations, however, exist and convey the exact words and meaning of the original languages. For example, consider John 3:16. The meaning in either language is the same.

Greek: Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλὰ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (Source: SBL NT.)

Russian: Ведь Бог так полюбил этот мир, что отдал Своего единственного Сына, чтобы каждый верующий в Него не погиб, но имел вечную жизнь. (Source: New Russian Translation, NRT.)

English: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Source: NIV.)

The Canon of Scripture

”Canon” is transliterated from the Greek, κανών, and means, literally, reed, standard, or measuring rod. It is a “measuring stick.” “Scripture” refers to the God-breathed words in the Bible -- as validated by textual criticism, accurate translation, and proper interpretation.

The specific Canon of Scripture, in the Protestant Bible, is the sixty-six books, including thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. “Books,” as a general term, include history, law, poetry, prophecy, gospels, letters (epistles), and apocalypse.

The Old Testament consists of five books of law (the Pentateuch) from Genesis through Deuteronomy, twelve books of history from Joshua through Esther, five books of poetry from Job through the Song of Solomon, five major prophets from Isaiah through Daniel, and twelve minor prophets from Hosea through Malachi.

The New Testament consists of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Acts (on early Christian history), thirteen letters (epistles) by the apostle Paul from Romans through Philemon, eight other letters (epistles) from Hebrews through Jude, and Revelation (the apocalyptic volume by the apostle John).

How was the Canon of Scripture determined? What about the non-canonical books? The full answers to those questions are outside the scope of this brief article; however, the answers are found in the following five scholarly sources. The reader is encouraged to study the sources independently.

First, see The Canon and Extra-Canonical Writings, on Apologetics Press, by AP Staff, 12/31/2002. Second and third, see The Old Testament Canon, on Evidence Unseen, by James M. Rochford (MA, Theological Studies), undated and The New Testament Canon, on Evidence Unseen, by James M. Rochford (MA, Theological Studies), undated. Fourth, see The Canon of Scripture, on Blue Letter Bible. Finally, see “Development of the canon” on Theopedia. (References to those sources accept the contents of those specific sources. The references, however, do not imply the acceptance of every article on each website.)

In summary of the five sources that have been cited, God determined the Canon of Scripture, not man. Scholarly study, however, has fully and accurately discovered what God has established as the Canon of Scripture – His inspired word to humankind.

The Art and Science of Textual Criticism

Textual criticism is an art and science. It does not criticize the Bible, in a negative sense. It is the accurate discovery of the original and unavailable autographs, by the study of the manuscripts, including translations, of those autographs.

Volumes of scholarly books, websites, and articles exist on the subject of textual criticism, as it relates to the Bible. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve more deeply into the subject; however, five select sources are referenced, for your further study.

The first four sources are from Apologetics Press. The series of three articles, by Justin Rogers, PhD, are: The Birth of the Book (Part 1), published 1/3/2022; The Birth of the Book (Part 2), published 2/7/2022; and The Integrity of the Biblical Text (Part 3): Text of the Old Testament, published 3/1/2022. The fourth article is: Has the Bible Been Transmitted To Us Accurately? By Dave Miller, PhD, published 10/6/2019. That article also contrasts the quality of textual criticism for the Bible to the inadequate textual criticism for the Koran – which, by the way, refers to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as inspired. The final source is New Testament Textual Criticism on Theopedia.

It is noteworthy that New Testament manuscripts are far more (in number) and earlier (in proximity to the first century AD) than manuscripts for other ancient and unavailable autographs. The sources cited previously unfold the evidence.

The review of those five sources concludes that textual criticism is certain that the manuscripts of the Bible are 99.9% accurate to the autographs. The 0.1% variation does not affect any point of doctrine. The study of those five select sources is highly recommended.

Why did God not ensure that the original autographs were preserved? No one knows. A speculation is that God did not want us to venerate (worship) the autographs, but to worship Him.

The General Affirmative

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let us begin to affirm that the Bible is the solely-inspired written word of God. The general affirmative will be stated, followed by the first of three lines of proof, which are selected. Other lines of proof are available, but the select three are necessary and sufficient.

Biblical inspiration is established, independently, by each line of proof. The illustration is the same “bright street light, supported by three strong poles, not just one,” as this series article of 11/4/2022 mentioned, in relation proving the existence of God.

The general affirmative is:

If the Bible has certain characteristics (distinguishing traits, qualities, or properties) that human authors could not have accomplished (achieved) alone (apart from God), then the Bible is the inspired word of God. The Bible has certain characteristics that human authors could not have accomplished alone. Therefore, the Bible is the inspired word of God.

Three certain characteristics -- which human authors could not have accomplished alone -- are the historical accuracy of the Bible (by archaeological evidence), the unity of the Bible (in theme, purpose, and doctrine), and biblical prophecy.

The Affirmative from the Characteristic of Historical Accuracy

This article presents the characteristic of the historical accuracy of the Bible. It begins with four important points. Future articles, Lord willing, will present the unity of the Bible and biblical prophecy.

Four Important Points

“Accuracy,” in general, means free from mistake or error. It is the same as inerrancy (containing no error). It affirms that the manuscripts of the Bible, which are 99.9% accurate to the autographs, contain no mistakes or errors, aside from grammatical mistakes. The following are four important points, which must be established, before the historical accuracy of the Bible is presented.

(1) Interpretation and Harmonization

Importantly, proper contextual interpretation and harmonization are essential, to affirm the general and historical accuracies of the Bible. Either by malevolent or benign intent, texts are misunderstood, taken out of context, and cited as alleged errors. Proper study, however, resolves the alleged errors.

As one of many examples, a contradiction is alleged between Matthew 27:5 (in which, Judas threw down the 30 silver pieces in the temple and hanged himself) and Acts 1:18 (in which, Judas purchased a field with the 30 silver pieces, fell, and burst open gruesomely). A proper study of Matthew 27:3-10 and Acts 1:18-19, however, reveals that the chief priests used the 30 silver pieces, which Judas had thrown down, to buy the field on his behalf. The texts state that Judas hanged himself, possibly to death. The texts suggest that, when Judas was either dying or dead, the noose (or device) dislodged his body, causing it to fall headlong and burst open. His body fell from the noose (or device), either by slipping free, by being cut down, or by decomposition. Everyone in Jerusalem knew about it (Acts 1:19). (A good article that resolves this alleged contradiction is: What Is the Field of Blood in the Bible? By G. Connor Salter, SEO Editor, on, 4/8/2022.) The first century authors, Matthew and Luke, each wrote about Judas' suicide and included certain details. They knew, but did not include, every detail. We can deduce details from what they mentioned. By deduction, the separate accounts do not contradict. A credible contextual interpretation and harmonization are sufficient to remove the alleged contradiction. (The plan is to publish a separate article on alleged discrepancies, in the future, Lord willing.)

(2) Accurate Translation

Secondly, an accurate translation of the Bible is essential, in the affirmation of biblical accuracy. Alleged contradictions arise from inaccurate translations of certain texts. The inaccurate translation of a particular text does not imply that the entire translation is inaccurate, but only that certain texts were not translated correctly.

As one example, an alleged error in Acts is cited, due to inadequacies in the King James and New King James translations. Those translations read that Saul's companions, at the same moment, heard the voice (Acts 9:7) but did not hear the voice (Acts 22:9). The New International Version, however, translates accurately that Saul's companions “heard the sound” (Acts 9:7) but “did not understand the voice” (Acts 22:9). The same Greek verb, ἀκούω (to hear), is used in both verses. In Acts 9:7, the verb is in the genitive, meaning to hear in general without necessarily understanding (“heard the sound”). In Acts 22:9, the verb is in the accusative, meaning to hear with understanding (heard but “did not understand”). In English, this is similar to “hear” (in general, as in hearing unclear words) and “listen” (as in hearing and understanding words). The alleged contradiction is resolved, by the study of the Greek text and by accurate translation.

(3) Logic

Thirdly, logically, if a Christian theist denies the inerrancy of the Bible, then he must affirm either that God is not perfect or that the Bible is not His inspired word. Christian theists, who affirm that God is perfect but that the Bible contains errors, are not logical, since a perfect God would not inspire errors.

Instead, if God inspired the Bible, and if He is perfect (making no mistakes or errors), then the Bible would contain no mistakes or errors. The reasoning is valid, but is it sound? It is, as will be elaborated. First, however, an important consideration needs to be noted.

(4) Consideration

Finally, consider that the Old Testament – in Hebrew and Aramaic, by about 31 authors – was written from about 1400 BC (the Pentateuch) to about 400 BC (Malachi). The New Testament – in Koine Greek, by nine authors – was written from about 44 AD to about 95 AD.

The authors were from the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. They lived in different historical periods and in different cultures. The authors had varying personalities, writing styles, educational levels, and positions. Some were kings, fishermen, priests, government officials, farmers, shepherds, and doctors. (Sources: my college studies on Survey of the Old Testament and Survey of the New Testament. Suggested sources for further study are: Concise Old Testament Survey, on, by the late J. Hampton Keathley III, ThM, 2/2/2009 and Concise New Testament Survey, on, by the late J. Hampton Keathley III, ThM, 2/2/2009.)

The Bible – the compilation of sixty-six books, over more than a thousand years, by about forty different authors, in three languages – does not contain historical errors, as will be explained. Could one book – not a compilation of books, written over only a century, by only a few different authors, in only one language – be without error and need no revision? It is doubted that such a book could be written – without God guiding the authors. For example, the occasional work on this article started last November. In the process, this sole writer has revised and corrected the draft several times. Once published, the article may need slight revision.

The Specific Argument from Historical Accuracy

The historical accuracy of the Bible -- which human authors could not have accomplished alone -- is now presented. The specific argument from historical accuracy is:

If the Bible has the characteristic of historical accuracy that human authors could not have accomplished alone, then the Bible is the inspired word of God. The Bible has historical accuracy that human authors could not have accomplished alone. Therefore, the Bible is the inspired word of God.

This article affirms the selected point on historical accuracy. Other selected points of biblical accuracy could be affirmed. References to other scholarly sources will be listed, for further personal study. Any reader, who is critical of this affirmative and who challenges the forthcoming conclusion, is welcome to argue a rebuttal in the comments section.

Secular history books are usually accurate. Some are redacted and revised, to correct mistakes. The Bible is not a history book, per se, in a secular sense. It does, however, contain historical narrative – such as in the Pentateuch (Genesis - Deuteronomy), the twelve books of history (Joshua - Esther), the four gospels, Acts, and historical references in other books.

The historical accuracy of the Bible is a necessary requirement for it to be inspired -- meaning that the Bible, to be considered inspired, must be accurate historically. If it is not historically accurate, then the Bible could not be inspired, by a perfect God, who makes no mistakes. (The Koran and the Book of Mormon, for example, contain known historical errors; therefore, they cannot be inspired by God. See, for example, The Bible vs. other Holy Books, on Biblical Science Institute, Jason Lisle, PhD, 9/21/2018.)

Historical accuracy is also a sufficient requirement that proves the inspiration of the Bible. The sufficiency is established, in that the historical accuracy of the Bible -- which is beyond the ability of uninspired authors -- is proved by the discovery that its history is exactly accurate. Archaeological discoveries corroborate the historical narratives in the Bible.

Over a century ago, skeptics stated that the Bible was merely a compilation of folklore, legend, and myth and that it was not accurate historically. Biblical history had not yet been corroborated by secular sources. Thousands of archaeological discoveries, over the last century to now, however, have corroborated the historical accuracy of the Bible. Some former skeptics became believers, once the exactly accurate history of the Bible was discovered.

Please note that archaeology is not an exact science, such as mathematics. It is evolving, with ongoing improvements in method. Discoveries can be incomplete and subject to the opinions, interpretations, and worldviews of the archaeologists.

To say, therefore, that archaeology “proves” the Bible is incorrect. Such a statement places archaeology above and in a position of alleged authority over the Bible, which is incorrect thinking. Archaeology, however, does corroborate (or support) the historical records in the Bible. It does not do so, for other so-called inspired books, such as the Book of Mormon, and so forth. In fact, archaeologists use historical biblical records as a guide to their archaeological studies.

References to the Proof

The following is a select list of five scholarly and online sources, of many such sources, that present archaeological discoveries that corroborate biblical history. These sources include citations to additional works. This select list can be used as a qualitative and encyclopedic reference point, for further studies.

First, please read carefully the Answers in Genesis article, Chapter 25: Does Archaeology Support the Bible? By Dr. Clifford Wilson, published 1/24/2008, last featured 8/27/2014. The article is included, as a chapter, in The New Answers Book 1. For all their free online books, see Answers in Genesis: Online Books, which includes The New Answers Book 1. (It is noteworthy to mention that the author of Chapter 25, Dr. Clifford Wilson, is deceased, according to Dr. Clifford Wilson Passes Into Glory, on, by Chris Field, 4/13/2012. Dr. Wilson's written work, however, continues to live.)

Dr. Wilson's Chapter 25, in The New Answers Book 1, lists thirteen sections on biblical history. Each section includes three major archaeological evidences, providing a total of thirty-nine evidences. The thirteen sections are as follows:

Genesis 1 - 11, Genesis 11 - 36, Genesis 37 - 50, Exodus to Deuteronomy, Joshua to Saul, David to Solomon, the Assyrian Period, the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus and the Medo-Persian Empire, Ezra and Nehemiah, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Person of Our Lord Jesus, and the New Testament and the Early Church.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Wilson stated:

Archaeology has done much to demonstrate that “the Bible was right after all.” Its early records of creation, Eden, the Flood, long-living men, and the dispersal of the nations are not mere legends after all. Other tablets recording the same events have been recovered, but they are often distorted and corrupted.

The Bible record is immensely superior, and quite credible. Those early Bible records can no longer be written off as myth or legend.

After having studied the extensive article, which includes online references to other sources, Dr. Wilson's conclusion is valid. In fact, the Answers in Genesis, section on Archaeology contains a wealth of information that confirms the historical accuracy of the Bible, in Old and New Testaments.

Second, for an in-depth study of Christian apologetics, the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, by the late [7/21/1932 - 7/1/2019] Dr. Norman L. Geisler, 1999 (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA) -- is an excellent source. The establishment of a free account, on Internet Archive, will allow a free 14-day loan, for online reading. The encyclopedia is found at Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, on Internet Archive.

The section on Archaeology, Old Testament (pages 48-52), concludes:

In every period of Old Testament history, we find that there is good evidence from archaeology that the Scriptures speak the truth. In many instances, the Scriptures even reflect firsthand knowledge of the times and customs it describes. While many have doubted the accuracy of the Bible, time and continued research have consistently demonstrated that the Word of God is better informed than its critics.

In fact, while thousands of finds from the ancient world support in broad outline and often in detail the biblical picture, not one incontrovertible find has ever contradicted the Bible.

The section on Archaeology, New Testament (pages 46-48), begins by stating:

Archaeological evidence for the reliability of the New Testament is overwhelming
(see New Testament, Dating of; New Testament, Historicity of). This evidence will be summarized in three parts: the historical accuracy of Luke, the testimony of secular historians, and the physical evidence relating to Christ’s crucifixion (see Christ, Death of).

The section on Acts, Historicity of (pages 4-8), concludes by stating, in part:

The historicity of the book of Acts is confirmed by overwhelming evidence. Nothing like this amount of detailed confirmation exists for another book from antiquity. This is not only a direct confirmation of the earliest Christian belief in the death and resurrection of Christ, but also, indirectly, of the Gospel record, since the author of Acts (Luke) also wrote a detailed Gospel. This Gospel directly parallels the other two Synoptic Gospels. The best evidence is that this material was composed by a.d. 60, only twenty-seven years after the death of Jesus. This places the writing during the lifetime of eyewitnesses to the events recorded (cf. Luke 1:1-4). This does not allow time for an alleged mythological development by persons living generations after the events.

Dr. Geisler's Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics is a classic work, which continues to live. The reader is encouraged to access the complete work, by means of the website, mentioned previously. Therein, the reasoning for each conclusion, which this article has quoted, is given.

Third, another excellent source, by the late Dr. Norman Geisler, is his Christian Apologetics, Second Edition, 2013 (Baker Book House, provided on Internet Archive). (There are six original download options, which are provided freely.) Dr. Geisler's book unfolds the complete reasoning behind Christian apologetics in general. The complete reading of this excellent book, once downloaded, is encouraged.

For the purpose of this article, however, please refer to Chapter 18: The Historical Reliability of the New Testament and the section Support for the Credibility of the New Testament Writers from Numerous Archaeological Finds. Therein, the abundant archaeological corroboration, of the New Testament historical record, is established.

In his Summary and Conclusion, to Chapter 18, the late Dr. Geisler wrote:

. . . we can be assured that the New Testament documents are historically reliable, for we have more, earlier, and better-copied manuscripts for it than for any other book from antiquity. Further, we posses more eyewitness and contemporary testimony in these documents that is supported by archaeological, historical, and legal sources than for any other book from that time.

Therefore, unless one is willing to wipe out all testimony from the past -- including all of secular history and even science -- we must conclude that not only do we have reliable copies of what Jesus and his apostles said, but what they said is reliable. In short, when the New Testament declares that Jesus said it, he actually said it. And when it affirms that Jesus did it, he actually did it. The New Testament is not just a good story; it is a true story!

The fourth source is The bearing of recent discovery on the trustworthiness of the New Testament, by Sir William Mitchell Ramsay [1851 - 1939], 1915 (Hodder and Stoughton, London, available on Internet Archive). (There are eleven original download options, which are provided freely.) The downloading and reading of the complete book is encouraged.

Sir William Ramsay was a renowned scholar. He started, as was common in his time, as a skeptic, regarding the historical authenticity of Acts. His archaeological expedition in Asia Minor intending to disprove the historical records in Acts. After years of research, however, Sir Ramsay concluded that Acts was precise and accurate history.

In PART II. THE LECTURES, under chapter III. The First Change of Judgment, Sir Ramsay wrote, on page 38:

But about 1880 to 1890 the book of the Acts was regarded as the weakest part of the New Testament. No one that had any regard for his [Luke's, MF] reputation as a scholar cared to say a word in its defence. The most conservative of theological scholars, as a rule, thought the wisest plan of defence for the New Testament as a whole was to say as little as possible about the Acts.

I began then to study the Acts in search of geographical and antiquarian evidence, hardly expecting to find any, but convinced that, if there were any, it would bear on the condition of Asia Minor in the time when the writer lived.

Further, however, in the same PART II, under chapter VI. General Impression of Trustworthiness in the Acts, Sir Ramsay concluded, on page 89:

The more I have studied the narrative of the Acts, and the more I have learned year after year about Graeco-Roman society and thoughts and fashions, and organization in those provinces, the more I admire and the better I understand. I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it here [in Acts, MF]. You may press the words of Luke in a degree far beyond any other historian's, and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment, provided always that the critic knows the subject and does not go beyond the limits of science and of justice.

In Acts, Luke mentions thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, nine Mediterranean islands, and ninety-five people (sixty-two of whom are not named elsewhere in the New Testament). Luke's references, when compared to external sources, are always exactly correct. Sir William Ramsay's work established these facts, over a century ago.

Finally and fifthly, one of the monumental works by John William (J. W.) McGarvey (deceased, 3/1/1829 - 10/6/1911) is Lands of the Bible: A Geographical and Topographical Description of Palestine, with Letters of Travel in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor and Greece, 1881 (J. B. Lippincott and Co., Philadelphia, PA). The Restoration Movement Pages (the property of Abilene Christian University Library) provides access to The Electronic Edition and the Table of Contents, without expense. The reading of the entire work is encouraged. Part First: The Geography of Palestine includes seven chapters. Part Second: The Topography of Palestine includes nine chapters. Part Third: Letters of Travel includes 22 letters.

The reference, for this article, is Part Second, Chapter IX, An Argument From The Land And The Book. The late Dr. McGarvey's written word continues to speak. The following quotation is from the sixth paragraph of that chapter. (The emboldening of key sentences are by the author of this article, not by Dr. McGarvey.)

That there is a general agreement between the Bible and the geography of Palestine is a well-known fact. Its plains, mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, cities, and deserts are in all parts of the Bible correctly named and correctly located. The political divisions known to exist are invariably recognized, as are also all the changes of government through which the country passed in the course of its long and varied history. In not a single known instance, from the beginning to the end of the book, is there a failure in any one of these particulars. This would be beyond precedent, even if the entire Bible had been written at one time by a single author; but when we remember that its various books were composed by more than thirty different authors, who lived in different ages, extending over a period of 1500 years, we can but be astonished at the result. But the ground for astonishment is not fully realized until we remember that all other historical writings that have come down to us from antiquity are notoriously erroneous. As modern research into ancient history has been prosecuted, errors in all the particulars mentioned above have been detected in ancient writers, and even among modern writers themselves the chief task of those of later date is to correct the errors of their predecessors. . . . But no one has ever yet found cause to publish a corrected edition of Bible history, nor have the researches of modern antiquaries had any other effect than to confirm and illustrate its local allusions and its historical statements. On this fact alone we might base our argument for the entire credibility of the Bible writers; but this is only the beginning of the story.

The five sources, as referenced, have not been refuted and continue to stand the test of time. The citations of those sources, in this brief article, simply present the proof that previous scholarship has already established. The proof does not need to be re-established, since it continues to stand as established.


The specific argument from historical accuracy is:

If the Bible has the characteristic of historical accuracy that human authors could not have accomplished alone, then the Bible is the inspired word of God. The Bible has historical accuracy that human authors could not have accomplished alone. Therefore, the Bible is the inspired word of God.

The Bible – the compilation of sixty-six books, over more than a thousand years, by about forty different authors, in three languages – does not contain historical errors. This article affirms that such an accomplishment would have been beyond the ability of uninspired authors.

The conclusion, therefore, is valid. The Bible is the inspired word of God. The reader of this article is encouraged to read the entirety of the works, which have been cited.

Secular history books are revised and have later editions, to update and correct previous editions. Where are the revised, corrected, and later editions of the Bible? There are none.

Theodore Beza (1519 - 1605), the 16th century Swiss theologian, is attributed, incorrectly, to have stated that the Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers. Beza, instead, spoke of the church as “. . . an anvil that has worn out many hammers.” (Source: Theodore Beza: The Counsellor of the French Reformation, by Henry Martyn Baird (G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, The Knickerbocker Press, 1899) marked up by Lance George Marshall, on Monergism. See especially Chapter XVI.)

That statement, however, rings true of the Bible also.

The conclusion of the apostle Peter's introductory chapter to the Christians at Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8 and states:

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25, NIV)

This article cannot improve on the apostle Peter's inspired statement. As the introduction to this article has stated, “The Bible is the only book, inspired by God, that guides us along the straight path, to the Light.”

I trust, dear reader, that you are following the biblical path to the Light. If you are not, then please use the Contact Form, if you wish personal communication. If you are, then may this article assist you, in the bringing of many to the Light.

As a personal note, this article is published on the date, in 1983, when my maternal grandfather, Aby William Wood (9/4/1901 – 3/14/1983) went to his heavenly home. I wear his middle name with honor. Before he passed and while in the hospital bed, enduring physical suffering, Papaw Wood raised both arms to heaven, looked upward, and prayed, “Please take me now, Lord. I'm ready to come home.” Papaw Wood was ready to see his Lord, whom he had served and in whom he had believed, as a Christian, for many decades. This article is dedicated to the faith of my beloved maternal grandfather, whom I will see again, once I join so many others and him up there. This is the evidence-based hope of faith. It is not blind hope. It is hope, as inspired by faith, which is based on evidence. I still have Papaw Wood's Bible. I can see where he underlined and made notes around several biblical texts. Papaw's Bible guided him along the straight path to the Light.

Friday, December 09, 2022

CHRISTIAN EVIDENCES (APOLOGETICS): the Nature of God (published 12-9-2022; article #377; series article #5)

4/7/2017 Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License.


Greetings, once again, to all national and international readers and students, to this series on Christian Evidences (Apologetics). Greetings, especially to you, dear student. My prayer is that you are doing well. This is the fifth article in the series.

Two days ago marked the 81st remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. The infamous date was December 7th, 1941. I remembered. I trust that many other Americans did also.

This article will first summarize the four previous articles in this series. The main purpose of this article is to address what we can know about the character of God through natural revelation.

Secondarily, this article will state and refute the so-called “problem of evil.” It will also address the everlastingness of hell. These sections are included, as replies to two standard criticisms by atheists.

This article begins to answer the second topic question in this Christian Evidences series: What is the nature of God? Natural revelation provides certain understandings of God's character.

The full answer to this question, however, will be incorporated into future articles on the third and final topic questions in this series: Is the Bible the solely-inspired written word of God? Is Jesus the Son of God?

Summary of First Four Articles

The first article, on 10/28/2022, introduced and explained the purpose of this series. The series will encapsulate my lifelong study of apologetics – in hope that it is read and shared widely. All relevant comments (in agreement or disagreement) and questions are welcome.

The topic question on the existence of God is answered in three articles: on 11/4/2022 by the moral argument, on 11/16/2022 by the teleological argument, and on 11/26/2022 by the cosmological argument. We have three “strong poles” that support the “bright street light.” God exists. The proof cannot be denied logically. It is fact. It is truth. It is faith based on evidence.

The Nature of God - Natural Revelation

Without referencing the Bible, what can we know about God, through natural revelation? Later articles will prove the inspiration of the Bible. The Bible provides supernatural revelation about God's character.

We can understand aspects of God's nature, by logical reasoning, as we observe His creation. (Supernatural revelation, in the Bible, provides a more full and sufficient understanding of God's character.) This section will list what we know about God, based on the three arguments that prove His existence.

First, from the moral argument, we learn that God is intrinsically moral and that His absolute moral law – which flows from His nature – transcends (is before and above) all moral laws of human origin. We know that God is good, righteous, and wise. God wants us to be good. He despises and must punish human immorality. This is His wisdom. We should follow His wisdom, by doing good.

Next, from the teleological argument, we learn that God is vastly powerful and intelligent. The design in the universe, the earth, and the human body evidence that God's supernatural power and intellect created all that exists. He fashioned each and every intricate design – of the immense and countless designs in the universe. Such great power and intellect stagger and overwhelm the mind.

Finally, from the cosmological argument, we learn that God is eternal, spirit, powerful, intelligent, intrinsic, self-sufficient, essential, and transcendent. God is the essential and eternal First Cause. God, the Creator, has always existed, above and before the material universe.

These characteristics of God are known through natural revelation. There is a God, and we can know much about Him, simply by considering the evidence in His natural creation.

The So-Called “Problem of Evil”

Initially, the plan had been to include this section in the 11/4/2022 article on the moral argument. It is placed here, since it transitions better into the third (upcoming) topic question on the inspiration of the Bible.

Those who deny the reality that God exists (atheists) rely on the so-called “problem of evil” argument – in attempt to convince theists that the God of the Bible does not exist. This section will present that argument and refute it. “Problem of evil” is in quotations, since the argument is not really a problem for the theist. In fact, the “problem of evil” can be used to prove that God exists.

The classic form of the “problem of evil” argument, as often stated, is:

If God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and perfectly good, then evil would not exist. Evil exists. Therefore, God (as described) does not exist.

That classic form, however, is incomplete. It assumes but does not state that God would eliminate all evil immediately. The atheist must admit this.

The complete form of the argument should be:

If God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and perfectly good, then He would eliminate all evil immediately. Evil continues to exist. Therefore, God (as described) does not exist.

The atheist must define his terms. Specifically, how does he define evil? Upon what basis does the atheist determine what is evil? Theoretically, if God did not exist, then evil is defined by the subjective thoughts of humans. (The complete statement on this is in the 11/4/2022 article on the moral argument.)

The atheist must affirm that there is no absolute evil. He cannot define evil absolutely. He must affirm that he thinks that there is no absolute moral law.

The “Problem of Evil” Proves God

How can the “problem of evil” be used to prove that God exists? This will be explained. Afterward, the reply will be given, to the complete form of the “problem of evil.” The argument from the “problem of evil” that proves that God exists is:

If evil is absolute, then an absolute Moral Lawgiver must exist. Evil is absolute. Therefore, an absolute Moral Lawgiver exits.

The atheist, when pressed, will have to admit that certain types of evil are always wrong. Examples include murder, rape, abuse of children and the elderly, adultery, intent to harm, and so forth. The atheist will vacillate subjectively on certain other types of evil – thinking that what once was wrong now is right (or vice versa).

How does the atheist know that, for example, murder is always evil? He cannot appeal to societal standards. The Nazis thought that it was right to murder Jews. Does the atheist critique the Nazis? He should. If so, how? The 11/4/2022 article on the moral argument relates that the Nuremberg Trials convicted the Nazis of absolute evil, by appealing to a “higher law” – God's absolute moral law.

If the atheist admits that certain types of evil are absolutely wrong, then he will prove (perhaps not to himself yet) that an Absolute Moral Lawgiver, God, exists. The fact that absolute evil exists, however, proves that God exits, as the Absolute Moral Lawgiver.

The “Problem of Evil” is No Problem

Turning the “problem of evil” argument against the atheist, as has been done, is the first answer to the “problem.” The complete answer, which follows, is based on the concept of “faith seeking understanding.” The phrase is attributed originally to Anselm of Canterbury (1033 - 1109), in his Proslogion (discourse), first titled then subtitled Fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).

Faith seeking understanding” is a rational faith, based on evidence, that seeks understanding from the Bible, as known to be inspired by God. The Christian theist is at liberty to reference biblical concepts in his complete answer, since he is defending the existence of the God of the Bible. Proof that the Bible is the solely-inspired word of God will be established, in future articles on that topic.

The complete answer, to the “problem of evil," is in nine parts. Each part, in order, is an expression of “faith seeking understanding.”

First, God is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and perfectly good (omnibenevolent). Any reply to the so-called “problem of evil” that limits God's power, knowledge, or goodness is incorrect. God's omnipotence, however, applies to powernot to the illogical. Logical impossibilities are absurdities that are imagined. For example, God cannot create a round square, a ball that is 100% red and 100% blue, or a rock so heavy that He can't lift it. Those examples are called logical contradictions. A logical contradiction is an impossible fallacy that is not subject to power. This is an important point to remember. (See fifth, below.)

Second, God acts according to His nature, and He will not violate His nature. See Numbers 23:19; James 1:17. God's nature is good, holy, and just. God will not, for example, lie, deny himself, make a mistake, be unjust, commit evil, and so forth.

Third, God created a perfectly good world, with no moral or natural evil. Evil was not a part of God's originally perfect world. See Genesis 1:31.

Fourth, God created humankind in His image. We are everlasting souls, and we have free will – to act and decide on our own. See Genesis 1:27; 2:4-25. God is both sufficiently distant and close to us, to allow us complete free will. He is not so close as to overwhelm us by His presence, forcing us to do good. He is not so distant that we cannot grasp His presence, encouraging us to do good. Consider Acts 17:27-28.

Fifth, God cannot force us to freely choose to do good always. That is a logical contradiction, not subject to power. For example, God could not have forced the 18-year-old female to freely choose not to turn directly into my right of way, which almost killed me (on 3/29/2016).

Sixth, moral evil exists, in abundance, due to the immoral freewill decisions that we make. This is intrinsic evil. Moral evil started when we freely chose to sin (violate God's moral law). See Genesis chapter 3. All (of age to know right and wrong) have sinned. See Romans 3:23; 5:12. The consequence of sin is death. See Romans 6:23.

Seventh, natural evil – distinct from moral evil – includes physical suffering and death, due to aging and disease. It also includes natural disasters, such as fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, blizzards, extreme heat or cold, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and so forth.

Physical suffering and death exist, as the consequence of the first sin and since all (who understand good and evil) choose to sin. See Genesis chapter 3; Romans 5:12. We age, are afflicted with various illnesses, and die. Infants (unborn and born) and children – who do not yet understand good and evil – have never sinned. Their deaths are due to illness, injury, natural disaster, or the immorality of someone. When infants and children die (the separation of soul from body), they (as everlasting souls) live everlastingly with God, since they never sinned.

Natural disasters exists, due to the worldwide flood, as God's punishment for sin. See Genesis chapters 6 - 9. The worldwide flood was God's judgment on the world's evil population (except Noah and his family). God's original creation did not include natural disasters – until humankind chose to sin. Before the worldwide flood, the world had become rife with sinful choices. The earth was damaged, and still suffers damage, due to the worldwide flood. See Romans 8:19-22.

Let us pause, to consider two questions. Why did God create humankind, with free will – knowing that sin would enter the world, that His creation would suffer terrible moral and natural evils due to sin, that we, in minority, would be rewarded in heaven everlastingly, but that we, in majority, would be punished in hell everlastingly? Would it have been better if God had not created?

I have pondered those questions many times. I have concluded that it is better that I exist than not exist. Since I exist, I can speculate my non-existence. If I did not exist, then I would not be here to consider my non-existence. Since I exist and have saving faith in God, then I will exist everlastingly. It is better, therefore, for me to exist than to not exist – even as I endure the moral and natural evil of this fallen world.

Revelation 4:11 (in the NIV) states that God “created all things” by His “will” (θέλημά, in Greek). The King James Version translates θέλημά as “pleasure.” θέλημά, in English, is “will, decision, desire.” God willed, decided, and desired to create – knowing that His eternal Scheme of Redemption would result in everlasting salvation or punishment. Consider 2 Peter chapter 3.

I do not question why God created me. I am the clay. He is the Potter. Consider Romans 9:20-21 in context. The Potter formed me as perfect clay. My sin made me imperfect; however, I have accepted the Perfect Gift and live by faith in God's promise. This is my purpose and duty (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Eighth, God, ultimately, will reward good and punish evil, according to His eternal Scheme of Redemption. See Romans 3:23-24; 5:6-9; 6:23. John Keats, the poet, described the earth, filled with both evil and good, as a “vale of soul-making” (in his April 1819 letter to his brother and sister). God's circumstantial will allows moral and natural evil to exist – for while. God has given us the choice – to freely accept or reject His eternal Scheme of Redemption. Ultimately, God will not allow evil to continue to exist. He, however, is granting us time, in this temporal “vale of soul-making,” to choose good over evil.

Ninth, God has three wills, as the following explains.

1. The intentional will of God was for humankind in the Garden of Eden. Perfect humans had a perfect world, in which to live everlastingly. See Genesis 1:26-31.

2. The circumstantial will of God is His eternal Scheme of Redemption, from Genesis to Revelation. God always knew that He would create, that we would sin, and that He would sacrifice Himself to save us. The biblical record, from Genesis to Revelation, unfolds God's eternal Scheme of Redemption. This article is written during the period of God's circumstantial will. God allows moral and natural evil to continue, during this period.

3. The ultimate will of God will be the culmination of His eternal Scheme of Redemption. Christ will return. All, who have lived or are living, will be judged righteously. The unsaved will be punished everlastingly. The saved will be blessed everlastingly. God will eliminate all moral and natural evil completely and finally.

In summary, the complete answer is that God – all powerful, all knowing, and perfectly good – does not eliminate all evil immediately. His grace is allowing us time and freedom to accept or reject Him. God, however, will eliminate all evil completely.

Imagine if God eliminated all moral evil completely as it happens. No person would have the time, freedom, or grace to repent of his or her evil and to turn to God in saving faith. Grace would not exist. I am glad that God does not eliminate all moral evil completely as it happens.

By living in the temporal realm, during God's circumstantial will, we face and endure moral and natural evil. If we freely choose God's grace, by our faith, then our everlasting reward awaits us. If we freely deny God's grace, then our everlasting punishment awaits us.

The so-called “problem of evil,” therefore, is not a problem to the theist. It can be used to prove that God exists. The complete answer is accomplished by the concept of “faith seeking understanding,” as has been explained. God, in His grace, does not completely eliminate all evil immediately. He, however, will completely eliminate all evil everlastingly.

The Everlastingness of Hell

The atheist, however, struggles with the concept of everlasting punishment in hell. Some theists do also. How could a perfectly good and loving God punish people in the fires of hell everlastingly? Imagine a person enduring the intense heat and fire of a blow torch, blasting against his body everlastingly. Atheists and some theists do not accept that a perfectly good and loving God would allow an everlasting hell to exist. Some theists argue, incorrectly, that hell is not everlasting but that is the permanent annihilation of the soul.

Heaven and hell are both everlasting. Heaven rewards the saved everlastingly. Hell, originally prepared for the devil and his angels, punishes the sinful everlastingly. Consider Jesus' words in Matthew 25:31-46.

Yes, God is perfectly good, merciful, and loving. He is, however, also perfectly holy, just, righteous, and angered. God created a perfect world for us, and created us in His image. Humankind, however, has sinned and continues to sin. God, in His eternal Scheme of Redemption, sacrificed Himself to save us. God will reward everlastingly all who accept His grace. He, however, will punish everlastingly all who reject His grace. Consider, among many passages, John 3:16-21.

Physical death is the separation of body and soul. Spiritual death is the separation of the human soul from God. Everlasting life is in heaven. Everlasting death is in hell. Our existence, in either location, will not be the same as in our physical existence now. We will have spiritual bodies. Consider 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, especially verse 9. The “fires of hell” express the spiritual torment of everlasting separation from God, which is far worse than physical fire.

All people – the saved and the unsaved – are connected to God, while alive physically on earth. God grants life and provision to all. See Matthew 5:43-48. Those who reject God's grace, by continuing to live in sin, must face everlasting separation from Him.

Yes, God is infinitely good. He is also infinitely just. In His infinite goodness, God rewards the saved everlastingly. In His infinite justice, God punishes the unsaved everlastingly. Could God's infinite justice punish the unsaved one minute in hell? If so, then what about a year, a decade, a century, a thousand years, or a million years? What about everlastingly? As a sinner, saved by grace, I have no right to judge the Righteous Judge, by critiquing His infinite justice.

God's infinite goodness and justice are perfectly fair. The atheist's critique of hell will not protect him from what I call “the ultimate acknowledgment of truth.” We will each stand before God at the final judgment. I am ready – not by my righteousness, but because of Christ's righteousness. See Romans 3:21-26 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. The atheist will have to acknowledge that God exists, at the final judgment, but it will be too late.


The main purpose of this article has addressed what we can know about the nature of God through natural revelation. Secondarily, this article has stated and refuted the so-called “problem of evil” and has addressed the everlastingness of hell.

The psalmist David wrote:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalms 19:1, NIV)

As has been stated, supernatural revelation, in the Bible, provides a more full and sufficient understanding of God's character. The full depth of God's nature may be beyond our temporal understanding. The apostle Paul wrote:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36, NIV)

The saved, however, will know the fullness of God's nature, once we are in heaven. The apostle John wrote:

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2, NIV)

Natural revelation is sufficient to understand that God will not excuse sin. The apostle Paul wrote:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

The third and final topic questions will be: Is the Bible the solely-inspired written word of God? Is Jesus the Son of God? In those sections, God's nature will be explored further. The encouragement to non-believers will continue – to believe, accept God's grace, and turn to Him in salvation.