How do we know that scripture is Inspired?


#1

I’m sure that this has been tackled before here on the forums-however, people don’t appear to like to tag their posts :shrug:

So, I’ll bring it back up. In conversation with many a denomination, this question always gets brought up. In general, I always want to lean back on “faith,” but there has to be a better explanation for this.

I speak to a lot of Mormons in my area who are quite skeptical of what they call “writings by fallible men” and… for those that are agnostic, or who doubt the books placed within the NT and the intentions of doing so, how do we go about explaining this?

Oral Tradition seems like a weak argument, because you can’t really prove it.
Any help in evangelizing those that don’t believe in the Inspiration of the NT in particular, is much appreciated.


#2

Proving Inspiration
catholic.com/tracts/proving-inspiration

The Catholic method of proving the Bible to be inspired is this: The Bible is initially approached as any other ancient work. It is not, at first, presumed to be inspired. From textual criticism we are able to conclude that we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work.

Next we take a look at what the Bible, considered merely as a history, tells us, focusing particularly on the New Testament, and more specifically the Gospels. We examine the account contained therein of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Using what is in the Gospels themselves and what we find in extra-biblical writings from the early centuries, together with what we know of human nature (and what we can otherwise, from natural reason alone, know of divine nature), we conclude that either Jesus was just what he claimed to be—God—or he was crazy. (The one thing we know he could not have been was merely a good man who was not God, since no merely good man would make the claims he made.)

We are able to eliminate the possibility of his being a madman not just from what he said but from what his followers did after his death. Many critics of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection claim that Christ did not truly rise, that his followers took his body from the tomb and then proclaimed him risen from the dead. According to these critics, the resurrection was nothing more than a hoax. Devising a hoax to glorify a friend and mentor is one thing, but you do not find people dying for a hoax, at least not one from which they derive no benefit. Certainly if Christ had not risen, his disciples would not have died horrible deaths affirming the reality and truth of the resurrection. The result of this line of reasoning is that we must conclude that Jesus indeed rose from the dead. Consequently, his claims concerning himself—including his claim to be God—have credibility. He meant what he said and did what he said he would do.

Further, Christ said he would found a Church. Both the Bible (still taken as merely a historical book, not yet as an inspired one) and other ancient works attest to the fact that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.

We have thus taken the material and purely historically concluded that Jesus founded the Catholic Church. Because of his Resurrection we have reason to take seriously his claims concerning the Church, including its authority to teach in his name.

This Catholic Church tells us the Bible is inspired, and we can take the Church’s word for it precisely because the Church is infallible. Only after having been told by a properly constituted authority—that is, one established by God to assure us of the truth concerning matters of faith—that the Bible is inspired can we reasonably begin to use it as an inspired book.

A Spiral Argument

Note that this is not a circular argument. We are not basing the inspiration of the Bible on the Church’s infallibility and the Church’s infallibility on the word of an inspired Bible. That indeed would be a circular argument! What we have is really a spiral argument. On the first level we argue to the reliability of the Bible insofar as it is history. From that we conclude that an infallible Church was founded. And then we take the word of that infallible Church that the Bible is inspired. This is not a circular argument because the final conclusion (the Bible is inspired) is not simply a restatement of its initial finding (the Bible is historically reliable), and its initial finding (the Bible is historically reliable) is in no way based on the final conclusion (the Bible is inspired). What we have demonstrated is that without the existence of the Church, we could never know whether the Bible is inspired.

The advantages of the Catholic approach are two: First, the inspiration is really proved, not just “felt.” Second, the main fact behind the proof—the reality of an infallible, teaching Church—leads one naturally to an answer to the problem that troubled the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:30-31): How is one to know which interpretations are correct? The same Church that authenticates the Bible, that attests to its inspiration, is the authority established by Christ to interpret his word.


The Spiral Argument Argument
#3

At the end of the day without faith you won’t believe anyway. Christ commissioned the Church, the Church determined the books which belong to the Bible. How do we know scripture is inspired? Because the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, says so.


#4

Oh no, not this again.

You have never been able to defend this. It’s a bogus, dishonest approach. Stop using it, for the love of God.

It’s not “the Catholic method.” It’s a method unfortunately endorsed by some apologists.

The Bible is initially approached as any other ancient work.

Bunk. You don’t approach the Bible that way, do you? So don’t pretend you do. No one actually follows this method. It’s pretense.

It is not, at first, presumed to be inspired. From textual criticism we are able to conclude that we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work.

Textual criticism can’t conclude anything about the accuracy of the events described in the text, only about the accuracy of the copies we have compared with the probable original. We have a very high degree of certainty that the texts we have are essentially what the “original authors” wrote. That tells us nothing about whether what they wrote was true or not.

This is a glaring logical fallacy. You know this, because I’ve pointed it out many times before. So what is your excuse for continuing to use it?

Using what is in the Gospels themselves and what we find in extra-biblical writings from the early centuries, together with what we know of human nature (and what we can otherwise, from natural reason alone, know of divine nature), we conclude that either Jesus was just what he claimed to be—God—or he was crazy. (The one thing we know he could not have been was merely a good man who was not God, since no merely good man would make the claims he made.)

Plenty of people who approach the Bible merely as history do not conclude that the historical Jesus claimed to be God. Even N. T. Wright, who clearly approaches the Bible from a standpoint of faith but with integrity as a historian, concludes that Jesus claimed to be God only in a rather qualified and indirect sense. So the argument fails here too.

Further, Christ said he would found a Church. Both the Bible (still taken as merely a historical book, not yet as an inspired one) and other ancient works attest to the fact that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.

The only one of the Gospels that speaks of Christ founding a Church is Matthew, and the passage which does so is highly dubious regarded purely as a historical text. The dishonesty of the method is shown here in a particularly glaring way. No one using purely historical methods would conclude that Jesus actually said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.” Jesus may in fact have said these words. But the only reason I would conclude this would be out of faith and acceptance of the Church’s authority.

We have thus taken the material and purely historically concluded that Jesus founded the Catholic Church.

Nonsense. From the NT taken purely as a work of history, we can conclude very little with any certainty about Jesus’ intentions for how his ministry was to be carried on. I think Wright’s arguments are sound, but they are challenged by many other historians with excellent credentials, and Wright does not get us to the proposition “Jesus founded the Catholic Church.” Wright is by far the most hopeful NT scholar for your purposes, and he won’t give you what you need.

No one who is actually acquainted with real NT scholarship and approaches that subject with any degree of fairness would endorse this miserable excuse for an argument.

You are discrediting the Church every time you repeat it. I implore you to stop doing so. You will convince only the credulous, and you will persuade anyone with an ounce of critical faculties that the Church is a sham.

Edwin


#5

:clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping: [standing O]

:tiphat::amen:


#6

Respectfully:

That tract is shear brilliance–you seem to have missed the genius behind it. It makes perfect sense, viewed from a historical perspective. That’s not to say now, today, start with the Bible as a historical text; it’s a reference to the fact that before the Books were universally acclaimed to be inspired, they were sitting there, amongst piles of other ‘historical’ texts. Their consistency with one another, and with the Tradition to which they testified, is what set them apart; it’s what proves they are inspired. Take away the very Tradition to which they testify, and there is nothing to distinguish them from the uninspired.


#7

Inspiration of the Bible: In the ecclesiastical sense inspiration is, in general, an influence or motion of God in the soul, and more strictly in the will. But the theologians usually indicate by this term a charismatic impulse that moves men to communicate to others what God wishes them to communicate. When the communication is oral, we have prophetic inspiration; when it is written, hagiographic or biblical inspiration. St Paul (2Tim. 3:16-17) affirms “All scripture is inspired by God”. and St. Peter (2Pet. l:2l) points out the nature of such inspiration: “The holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Spirit”

Leo Xlll in his great encyclical on biblical studies, Providentissimus Deus (Nov l8, 1893) defined inspiration: A supernatural action through means of which God excited and moved the Sacred Writers to write and assisted them in writing in such a way that they would conceive rightly in their thought, they would want to write faithfully, and with infallible truth all that He wanted them to express" According to the constant and explicit declaration of the sources of revelation, God is the Author of Holy Scripture. He is not however the only and direct author, as if He had produced the holy books as they are, but He is the principle Author on whom goes back the responsibility for the books; however, for their compilation and editing God used men, who are the secondary and instrumental authors. But since man is not a blind, but a conscious and free instrument, he puts in his own proper action, which is manifested in the external form of the writing of the book. In this way we speak of the style of Isaias, Jeremias, Matthew, Paul, etc. the inspiration of God in men includes (a) an enlightening of the mind, by which the sacred author perceives correctly what he is to write and judges infallibly it’s truth or falsity; (b) a movement of the will by which God influences the hagiographer to decide to write what he has conceived and judged; © assistance of the executive faculties in order that, in the choice of words and expressions, the hagiographers be protected against error or deviations that could compromise the manifestation of the divine thought it should be noted that God’s action on the hagiographer’s mind is not a revelation proper, because the hagiographer can have information of his own deriving, eg. from direct participation in the events he narrates, or acquired in advance through divine intervention. Revelation however, is necessary when man must communicate for God truths of the supernatural order, of which the knowledge surpasses his human intellectual possibilities. God’s inspirative influence is not necessarily perceived by the inspired author, since God acts in rational creatures without doing any violence to their nature.
The solemn Church magisterium in the Councils of Florence, Trent, and Vatican has defined the inspiration of the Bible as a dogma of Faith.


#8

One thing that seems to be missing is the fact that there are modes of belief that make scripture true. One mode is that of belief. If we had movie cameras back in the time of Christ then we could have recorded on film (or data cartridges) the actual Resurrection. That would make great proof. But the technology was not there but it was recorded by over 500 eye witnesses who could testify to seeing the Risen Lord. This is the proof by the only means available in their time. Eye witness testimony is good.
Another mode of proof is that it had been promised or foretold that Jesus would come to a virgin and from the place where He would be born. It was foretold He would be a suffering servant and would be a king. It was also foretold that He would be recognized by miracles of the lame walking and the blind seeing. All these were accomplished which are proofs of Divine Nature - God.
Another mode of proof which has been mentioned is that sane men would not give their lives so easily if they were not totally convinced Jesus was the person He claimed to be - the Son of God.
Another mode is that Jesus said He would establish a Church that would not fail and would speak for Him. This is true since so many humans were involved it should have failed by now. It has survived heresies, wars, infighting, and revolutions. There must be something keeping it together so when it chooses books for scripture there must be some spiritual backing on making such proclamations.
There are other modes but these are my favorites


#9

You’re correct about this point, but if you read the tract you would understand that it does not say accuracy of text=accuracy of historical events.

We have to know first and foremost that we are working with an accurate text. That the documents we are reviewing are not substantially different from the originals.

Knowing this, we can then compare what we have in the text with extra-Biblical histories from the time period.

It’s important that you follow the full argument step-by-step if you want to rebut it. You don’t seem to be doing that. Also, if you have a problem with the argument presented I recommend you take it up with Catholic Answers. Nothing that was posted is 100 percent original work. It came straight from CA’s own tract.


#10

So all that talk is useless …

Christ commissioned the Church, the Church determined the books which belong to the Bible. How do we know scripture is inspired? Because the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, says so.

No, you believe to know this because you believe the Church.


#11

I suppose that if you could give a job to anyone who seeks it, with decent payment at that, they would eventually also accept whatever religion you teach.

Worldly arguments are so much more persuasive than any amount of theology.

As things stand, religious people in general might as well be saying, “Well, we don’t really have anything tangible to offer, we don’t really have anything to show for, but you should unconditionally believe us anyway.”


#12

Christ didn’t pay anyone anything accept the promise of eternal life.

[quote=Lucky107]As things stand, religious people in general might as well be saying, “Well, we don’t really have anything tangible to offer, we don’t really have anything to show for, but you should unconditionally believe us anyway.”
[/quote]

Nothing tangible to offer? There is much to be offered, whether you consider spiritually on par with tangibility, that’s up to you. But not only do we have a lot to offer spiritually, we have a lot to offer the world-the Catholic Church being 2nd in the world in charitable giving/helping.

Nothing to show for? Again, we give to the world what no one else can offer. And by the witness of the Martyrs and the lives of the Saints, the attested miracles-some even scientifically proven-and the visitations by The Mother of God, there is a LOT to show.


#13

So?

Nothing tangible to offer? There is much to be offered, whether you consider spiritually on par with tangibility, that’s up to you. But not only do we have a lot to offer spiritually, we have a lot to offer the world-the Catholic Church being 2nd in the world in charitable giving/helping.

Nothing to show for? Again, we give to the world what no one else can offer. And by the witness of the Martyrs and the lives of the Saints, the attested miracles-some even scientifically proven-and the visitations by The Mother of God, there is a LOT to show.

The things you have to show for, the things you have to offer are things relevant from your perspective. Not necessarily from someone else’s perspective.

Your OP inquired about ways to explain to non-Catholics that the Bible is inspired.

The non-Catholics you wish to convince or to whom you wish to explain things aren’t impressed or interested in what you think is relevant.

They’re interested in what you can offer them that they themselves would consider relevant.


#14

More than 5000 fulfilled prophesies.

That’s how we start to know.

-Tim-


#15

Why would I take it up with Catholic Answers? They are an organization institutionally committed to a certain kind of apologetics, which I regard as inherently corrupt. They are answering bad fundamentalist arguments with slightly less bad Catholic arguments, and that’s between them and the fundamentalists. I have no relationship with them and there is no reason for them to listen to me.

I am taking it up here because it’s being posted here by someone with whom I have interacted in the past on this and other issues–someone whom I think it might be possible to persuade. If Karl Keating wants to come onto this forum and argue the point with me, I would welcome this.

I absolutely am following the argument step by step. I have done so frequently in many, many posts, and have lost patience with the way people just let the argument drop and then start posting the same nonsense again in a new thread.

Please point out which steps I’m missing and I’ll address them. I’m ignoring the later stages of the argument because they depend on the earlier ones, and it’s the earlier ones that are fatally flawed.

You say that the tract doesn’t say that an accurate text=accurate history. It’s true that it doesn’t say so in so many words. But after the section on textual accuracy, ending “we can work from it with confidence,” the tract goes on immediately to say "Next we take a look at what the Bible, considered merely as a history, tells us. . . " At no point does it again consider the question of historical accuracy. The complete historical accuracy of the Bible is taken for granted from that point on, and the only thing that might possibly be an argument for the historicity of the Bible is the textual-criticism argument.

So take your pick: either the tract is saying that textual accuracy=historical accuracy or it is assuming historical accuracy without even trying to argue for it. Either supposition is fatal to the argument.

Edwin


#16

Many of which either

a) are claimed to be prophecies in the NT but can easily be interpreted otherwise
b) may have been written after the event took place, or
c) may not actually have been fulfilled (i.e., we can’t prove that the fulfilling event is historical rather than something that was written that way in order to match the prophecy)

How many prophecies remain when you eliminate these three categories? And you must do that if you are trying to prove the Bible from fulfilled prophecy.

There is no knock-down proof. As with anything else worth believing, you have to weigh up all kinds of factors and decide what is the most plausible explanation of the existence of the Bible, in the context of all the other things you have good reason to believe.

You don’t know for sure. You believe. Not without reasons, but without conclusive proof.

Now if the question asked “what are some of the reasons why we believe the Bible is inspired, and how do we answer arguments against its inspiration,” that would be a constructive way of proceeding.

Edwin


#17

This isn’t making any sense at all. The tract presents the argument as a method to be used by modern people in discerning whether the Bible is inspired, and it claims that you can prove the complete reliability of the Bible (really the NT in particular) by purely historical methods. But in fact you can’t.

There is no getting around this. The argument depends precisely on looking at the Bible in abstraction from the Tradition, as a purely historical document. I agree with you, in fact, that this is actually a paradoxically unhistorical way to look at the Bible. The Bible exists as the Bible precisely because it was adopted by the Church. To look at the Bible as the Bible is to look at the Bible from the vantage point of faith. But the article claims not to be doing that.

The argument is dishonest, and honest people should not use it. (Honest people do, in fact, frequently use dishonest arguments through failure to think critically enough, so no imputations on the character of Karl Keating or anyone else are implied by my use of the word “dishonest.”)

Edwin


#18

Given the above, what do you find is good evidence to think that the Bible is divinely inspired?


#19

I know for sure without proof.

-Tim-


#20

This is the part you seemed to skip over:

“Using what is in the Gospels themselves and what we find in extra-biblical writings from the early centuries…”

And:

“Both the Bible (still taken as merely a historical book, not yet as an inspired one) and other ancient works attest to the fact that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.”

Both of these statements the historical accuracy of the Bible is judged by the extra-biblical sources from the same time.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.