How do we know the Bible is inspired?

Here’s the full outline of the process:

  1. We begin by treating the Bible not as an inspired text but simply as any other historical text such as the works of Homer or the accounts of war by Julius Caesar.

  2. Using textual criticism, we are able to conclude that today, we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work.

  3. Next we take a look at what the Bible, still considered merely as a historical text, 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.

  4. 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 Jesus was either:

a. a liar,
b. a lunatic,
c. or Lord (that is, just what he claimed to be—God).

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.

  1. The Bible, still only considered to be historically accurate book, records that Jesus, who is God, said he would found a Church. Both the Bible and other ancient works attest to the fact that Jesus established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.

  2. Thus, beginning with the historical data alone, we conclude 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. Teaching in His name and with His authority requires infallibility, and that, too, is evident from the recorded teachings of Jesus.

  3. The infallible Catholic Church tells us the Bible is inspired.

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.

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So, the historically accurate Bible tells us that God founded a Church authorized to teach in His name. Since logic dictates that such a Church cannot teach error while doing so, we accept the Church’s infallible judgment that the Bible is not only historically reliable but also inspired.

John 14:25-26 I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.

Is there perhaps some circularity? We know the bible is inspired because the church tells us so, and we know the church has the authority to tell us this because the bible tells us so.

We don’t know. We take it on Faith. Its a gamble

I assume you mean ancient text? Homer isn’t historical.

  1. Using textual criticism, we are able to conclude that today, we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work.

Is that actually the case? I really don’t know. Part of me thinks you’re right on the basis of the multiples MSS traditions, etc. On the other hand, strictly speaking, we have less evidence for the textual corruption of many other major ancient texts, on the basis that we have far fewer MSS.

  1. Next we take a look at what the Bible, still considered merely as a historical text, 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.

As a Christian, I think this is a valid move. If, however, I were a non-Christian, I’d instantly challenge this move. Why should we be focusing on the Gospels more than, say, Deuteronomy, or Job, or 2 Kings, or Ben Sira? Your step 3 presupposes an explicitly Christian hermeneutic - and as a Catholic you definitely want to defend that claim! - so I don’t see why the non-Christian would accept this move as self-evidently ok.

  1. 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 Jesus was either:

a. a liar,
b. a lunatic,
c. or Lord (that is, just what he claimed to be—God).

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.

I’m *personally *convinced by this argument, BUT, I think we can find plausible reasons for the non-Christian to rationally reject it. William Lane Craig rejects it for logical unsoundness; he has a major problem with the prescriptive restriction to three options, suggesting that there’s certainly no logical reason that this should necessarily be so. N. T. Wright offers the criticism that this isn’t just a logical misstep, but a historical-critical one; Lewis’s restriction to three options is vulnerable to the charge of not having properly understood the texts. Wright points out that Lewis’s claims about the incarnation don’t take into account the incarnational theology of 2nd temple Judaism(s), esp. regarding the Temple itself. The kinds of things Jesus says and offers aren’t simply true or evil or insane; they could be untrue, but perfectly rational and well intentioned beliefs held within the broad tent of second-temple Jewish theologies. touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=20-02-028-f

  1. The Bible, still only considered to be historically accurate book, records that Jesus, who is God, said he would found a Church. Both the Bible and other ancient works attest to the fact that Jesus established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.

We have *at most *established the historicity of the Incarnation. We have at most established that the Bible, read within a Christian hermeneutic, might be theologically reliable.

  1. Thus, beginning with the historical data alone, we conclude 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. Teaching in His name and with His authority requires infallibility, and that, too, is evident from the recorded teachings of Jesus.

But you’re here already presupposing the historical reliability of the texts as a witness to Christ’s own teaching. You definitely haven’t proven this! In addition to what I’ve just written above, you have claimed in (2) at most that we can be reasonably certain that we have the original text (or something like it) or the Bible. This is very different to either (a) demonstrating that the original text was historically informed, e.g. by eyewitnesses, or by other reliable historical documents; or, (b) that a historically informed portrayal of Jesus would necessarily give us his ipsissima verba, of the kind needed (on your model) for a strong exegesis of the primacy citation in Matthew 16.

  1. The infallible Catholic Church tells us the Bible is inspired.

This depends on your claim above: “his claims concerning the Church, including its authority to teach in his name. Teaching in His name and with His authority requires infallibility, and that, too, is evident from the recorded teachings of Jesus”. This has not been demonstrated by your argument, or even by exegesis of the text itself. I’m sure you could offer the exegesis, but I’m not sure you can fit it into your argument.

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.

Question: can this point work if the properly constituted authority is not infallible?

Second question: on the basis of the model of revelation you’ve outlined in your argument so far, what is the Bible actually for? What authority can we say it possesses in itself?

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So, the historically accurate Bible tells us that God founded a Church authorized to teach in His name. Since logic dictates that such a Church cannot teach error while doing so, we accept the Church’s infallible judgment that the Bible is not only historically reliable but also inspired.

You avoid proper circularity, but your argument definitely isn’t watertight. Interesting and thought-provoking, and elements of it were useful, but it doesn’t achieve what it sets out to achieve.

Not so. The Bible (as we know it) did not become recognized as a collection of holy writings until more than a century after Our Lord’s death. But the Church was acting with authority through that time.

The Church is happy to cite the Bible to support her claims of authority, but she has never based Her claims in the Bible.

What you say is quite obviously not true of the Old Testament. Israel’s Scriptures have of course been received by the Church since her very beginning. Paul ties the central proclamation of the Church’s gospel and tradition - the death and resurrection of Christ - to the Old Testament Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 15.3-4.

There’s truth in what you’re saying, especially with regard to (a) the New Testament, and (b) the concept of a unitary canon of Scripture, but it’s definitely not true in an absolute sense.

That is true. She hasn’t based her claims on the Bible, but she has based her proofs on it.

In that case, what non-biblical proofs are there for the authority of the Church?

Look and study the heresies that infected the Church in the first 1000 years. These were defeated, not with the Bible…but with the authority of the Church.

That only proves that the Church exercised authority, not that the authority was legitimate. The claim to legitimacy of this authority is based on events described in the Bible (or on an oral recount of those events prior to the canonisation of scripture). But the legitimacy of that proof is only guaranteed by the Church. Do you see how this is circular? Church validates tradition-tradition validates Church.

Seems like a lot of work.

For many, the act of prayerfully reading it, over time, proves its living nature and divine origin.

-Tim-

How could the Church exercise authority, if it did not have the authority to exercixe it and it was legitimate in the first place?

The legitimacy of the proof is guaranteed by the Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit.

calledtocommunion.com/2009/07/ecclesial-deism/

But upon coming to understand that Christ founded a visible hierarchically organized Body of which He is the Head and which He promised to preserve, I came to see that the way to trust Christ is to trust His Church of which He is the Head, just as the early Christians trusted Christ precisely by trusting the teaching of the Apostles. Trusting the Apostles did not subtract from (or compete with) their trust in Christ. On the contrary, when Jesus tells the Apostle Thomas, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed,”30 He implies that greater faith is required and shown in those who trust in Christ not by seeing Him, but by believing the testimony of the Apostles. Jesus refers to this way of believing when He prays, “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.”31

With regard to the Apostles dying for their beliefs versus dying for a hoax…

Perhaps, had they been given a chance to recant their message in return for saving their lives, they might have done it. In fact, they all DID do that at Jesus’ crucifixion.

Could it be possible, that instead of being martyed, they were actually exterminated for their message without being given a chance to recant? If so, that would mean they didnt die for their beliefs, but were merely murdered with no questions asked. That also woulnt qualify them as martyrs.

If the Apostles’ deaths were due to anything else other than martyrdom, does that take away from the authenticity of their message and does it allow for the possibility of a hoax?

An example of what Im trying to say is…

On the news a couple of years ago a teen was shot dead while attempting to pull a Halloween prank on a home owner. The teen did not die for the prank, he did not stand firm and did not defend the prank and then died as a result of that aka being martyred. He was simply shot with no questions.asked by the home owner. The homeowner simply reacted to the teens’ presence on his property and shot him. I think we can all agree that this was not martydom. Just an example to illustrate my point.

Amen, the OT law was written in stone, the NT is the law written in the heart and mind.

Exodus 24:12 - The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”

Exodus 31:18- When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the “covenant law”, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

Exodus 32:16- The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

Exodus 34:1 -Now the LORD said to Moses, "Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered.

Exodus 34:28- Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the “covenant”–the Ten Commandments.

Deuteronomy 4:13- He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.

Deuteronomy 10:1- At that time the LORD said to me, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Also make a wooden ark.

Deuteronomy 10:2- I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the ark."

Deuteronomy 10:4- The LORD wrote on these tablets what he had written before, the Ten Commandments he had proclaimed to you on the mountain, out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. And the LORD gave them to me.

Jeremiah 24:7-I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 - But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord: I will give my law in their bowels, and I will write it in their heart: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Romans 11:27- And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."

2 Corinthians 3:3- You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

1 Thessalonians 4:9- Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

Hebrews 8:10- For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Hebrews 10:16- “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

1 Kings 8:58- May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors.

Psalm 37:31- The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.

There are plenty of religious movements where people have exercise authority over others. Does the authority of the leader of a UFO cult automatically prove his legitimacy?

As for the legitimacy of the proof being guaranteed by Jesus and the Holy Spirit: the basis for that claim are the events described in the new testament. You are only adding a step to the circularity: Jesus confers authority-Church exercises authority-Church validates scripture-Scripture validates Jesus’ conferral of authority-Church exercises authority.

Like the Koran.

That is very true, not to mention also that they were probably perceived as political agitators by the roman authorities. Perhaps they felt it was simply safer to nip the movement in the bud. Judea had been a very unstable province, and there were several jewish-roman wars during the period, one of them involving another messiah. The jews were being martyred in general during that period, regardless of their beliefs.

"You avoid proper circularity, but your argument definitely isn’t watertight. Interesting and thought-provoking, and elements of it were useful, but it doesn’t achieve what it sets out to achieve.

Good analysis, Novocastrian. I, too, believe all of the conclusions presented by the original author, Randy Carson, but by no means do many of his reasonings provide a solid case for doing so. Lots of holes to patch.

Good analysis, Novocastrian. I, too, believe all of the conclusions presented by the original author, Randy Carson, but by no means do many of his reasonings provide a solid case for doing so. Lots of holes to patch.

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