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July 30, 2022 12:01 am
The Bible is filled with supernatural events and astonishing truth claims. How should we give a rational defense for Scripture's reliability? Today, R.C. Sproul examines some of the primary methods that apologists use.
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The virgin birth, a perfect wife, the resurrection, these are all supernatural episodes that are at the very core of the New Testament message regarding Christ. The New Testament message is steeped in the super natural and the Bible claims to be giving us this message on nothing less, than the authority of God pleads in the Bible. Spanish Christians base their belief in all of the supernatural events because the Bible claims to be inspired by God himself today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul shows the claim, the truth doesn't make something true the claim to infallible truth raises the stakes as we continue now with our study in apologetics were going to move to a new subject today that is very important and that is how we defend the churches confidence and belief in the authority and inspiration of the Bible before we do that, let me just make a couple of introductory remarks.
Some apologists believe that the first step in apologetics should be the establishing of the foundation of the ultimate source of authority for Christian truth claims, namely the Bible and that we should begin the study of the defense of faith by declaring the Bible because once you establish the authority of the Bible. The rest is easy.
The rest is then simply a matter of exegesis or gleaning from the teaching of the text of Scripture. The truth is that we are trying to defend. For example, if we can establish that Scripture is the word of God and then we can show that that Scripture teaches the deity of Christ, that we don't have to go into laborious, philosophical, or historical arguments to defend the truth claims of the deity of Jesus because of the Bible teaches that and we've established that it's a word of God. The task is finished and so there are apologists who argue that the proper starting point in apologetics is the defense of sacred Scripture.
Now I agree certainly that establishing is foundational the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture is a top priority for Christian apologetics but I don't think it's the initial point where we should begin. That's why I didn't begin there. In this course. I began by trying to establish the existence of God because I think that's prior to establishing the authority of the Bible as the word of God because you can't know that something is the word of God unless you first establish that there is a God whose word may be discovered.
Now again, there are those who argue that no rational defense should be given to the Bible, but rather the Bible's authority along with the existence of God need to be presupposed as the tool starting points for all of Christian truth and all of Christian apologetics now. At that point. People argue that the Bible is self authenticating, which means that the Bible, by virtue of what it is inherently can be subjected to no higher court of appeal outside of itself. If it's the word of God the Word of God carries its own intrinsic authority and cannot be subjected to something higher, because there is no higher authority than the word of God.
Now let me back up. We've all seen the bumper sticker.
The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it or they'll say God says it, I believe it, that settles it. And anybody who knows me knows that I object to that particular slogan because there is a middle term there that is not only irrelevant, but it's actually undercutting the idea that is trying to be communicated with the bumper sticker what it should say is God says it, that settles it. Because if I acquiesce to what God says or not has nothing to do with the issues being settled that the Lord God omnipotent opens his mouth on a particular subject. The issue is settled forever.
There is no room left for debate from creatures whom he has made, and as it has been said by the reformers were God opens his holy mouth. That's the end of the dispute, but of course from an apologetic viewpoint. What were trying to deal with here is the question of whether not only is there a God, but has the God who exists revealed himself in some kind of written manner. It's one thing to establish the existence of God.
It's another thing to demonstrate that the God who exists has spoken and that he has spoken in and through the written pages of holy writ.
But again, those who argue for self authenticating Bible argue for that on the basis that there is no higher Court of Appeal to which the Bible should be tested or subjected and if we come to the truth claims of the Bible and want to subject the Bible to tests of reason, rationality or scientific empirical inquiry that what we are doing is compromising the purity of the Christian faith by subjecting God to the tests of human scientific inquiry will obviously that's not the desire of any apologists who sets out to argue for the trustworthiness of sacred Scripture, but the reason why I'm not satisfied with just declaring a self authenticating text so there's more than one reason. The first reason is that the rationale for it is circular and therefore fallacious a circular argument falls by its own weight and we can construct the self authenticating argument in this way the Bible is the word of God, the Bible being the word of God declares that it is the word of God. Therefore the Bible is the word of God, or we could construct it another way, all that the Bible says is true. The Bible says it is the word of God. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the word of God. You see that in both of those constructions of syllogisms that the conclusion is present already in the premises, and it violates the principle of circular reasoning, which is a logical fallacy so I don't like arguing self authentication because it gets me into a process of thinking that is fallacious and which any pagan in America can spot as being fallacious. Second of all to say that the Bible is self authenticating runs us against this problem, the Bible claims to be the word of God, but it is not the only book out there that makes that claim. The book of Mormon makes that claim. The Koran makes that claim. And we know that the content for example of the book of Mormon can't possibly, in my judgment be reconciled with the teaching of the holy Bible. Non-Mormons believe that the two are completely compatible. I think that's really impossible to reconcile them, but in any case, since there are other books that claim to be the word of God and we recognize that their claims are not authentic or genuine, and we also understand that just because a book claims to be the word of God doesn't prove that it is the word of God. So we have to have some criteria by which we distinguish a true claim to divine origin from a fraudulent or spurious claim to divine authority, and that's the task of apologetics.
At this point as we look at the truth claims of the Bible again just because a book claims to be the word of God doesn't make it the word of God, not again my friends who want to argue for self authenticating say well it's true that when the book of Mormon claims to be the word of God. It's not the word of God, because it's not the word of God. But when the Bible claims to be the word of God. That claim is true because it is the word of God and so were back into the first problem when we argue from that direct the third reason why I'm not satisfied with self authenticating truth. At this point is that because in the Scripture themselves. When God claims to speak.
He without subjecting himself to a higher test of rationality, for example. Nevertheless gives evidence and proof that he's the one who was speaking and this is what he does in the Scriptures. He authenticates that the message is from him by means of the function of the miracle we go back again to God's revelation of himself to Moses in the book of Exodus and God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush and Moses asked some questions and I said how are the people in Israel going to believe it when I come to them and I say I was talking to God and God told me to tell you people to go on strike against this most powerful ruler in the world and these people to look at me and they can think I'm crazy how are they going to know that I am speaking you are word God and not expressing something that caused me to have indigestion last night and God answered Moses by saying put your hand in your cloak and so is put something in his shirt to support out its leprous, is it okay put your hand back in there. He puts his hand back in his shirt, pulls it out now. It's clean.
What is God doing here.
He's empowering Moses to do miracles. He said take your staff thrown on the ground.
He throws it on the ground and turns into a snake and we know than that then Moses engages in a battle with the court magicians of Pharaoh, where the court magicians have their magic tricks just like magicians have today but in a very short period of time going up against the authentically supernatural their bag of tricks gets empty and Moses wins hands down.
And then, in order to convince Pharaoh, we go through all the plagues that are visited by the power of God on the people of Egypt until finally Pharaoh relents in the New Testament we have Jesus meeting with Nicodemus.
Nicodemus comes to him and says teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God because of the works that you do. No one could do these things said Nicodemus. Unless God were with him and our Lord himself echoing the sentiment of Nicodemus. In speaking to his opponents in the first century said, believe me, if not by my words belief me because of the works that I do and then we also see that the claim in the New Testament that the authority of the apostles was established by the powers and wonders that they performed. The idea being is that people could recognize that God was speaking his word through them because they through the power of God and the help of God could do things that only God can do. Now let me just back up on that point for just a second lot of people have the idea that the miracles of Scripture prove the existence of God. But that's a weak position from an apologetic viewpoint because something cannot really be identified as a miracle as something only God can do until you first establish there is a God.
So it's the function of miracles is not to prove the existence of God. The function biblically of the miracle is to authenticate give the outward credentials to those who claim to be speaking the word of God. Now I'm going to just skip over this point. For the moment. Hope up time to visit before the course is over because one of the biggest points of controversy that the church has to deal with today. In light of David Hume's criticism, for example against miracle is the whole idea of supernatural events that are recorded in the Scripture, the impact of naturalistic philosophy has started out with their presupposition that there is no supernatural realm. And since there is no supernatural realm. There is no God.
Any alleged miracle then or now must be false that the Bible must be mythological, precisely because it declares the presence of miracles in it. And so for the modern naturalist so far from miracles proving the truth claims of Christianity. The very fact that they claim, miracle has been the reason why so many people in the modern centuries have rejected the message of Scripture. It's an irony really to see the flip-flop of the role of miracle here, but I will come back to that as I said later. Right now I'm trying to show you why it is I don't accept a self authenticating defense of the Bible and have given you three reasons for that. But what I do again agree with is the urgent importance of establishing the trustworthiness of Scripture early on in the process of Christian apologetics may really two things we are obligated to defend in apologetics. The two most important things is first of all, the existence of God and second of all, the divine origin of Scripture. That's were 98% of the burden of apologetics falls on those two issues now so far in this course we had over 20 sessions where we try to establish the first premise, the existence of God.
Now we are moving away from that to this second most important premise the Bible as the word of God know where we start with respect to the Bible is with the Bible's claim and with the Bible. Self testimony not going to retreat to self authentication, but one of the problems we have with the whole concept of biblical authority and inspiration is that the Bible claims to be the word of God. Now that suddenly elevates the stakes apologetically with respect to the truth claims of Christianity. Because let's take the rest of the truth claims of Christianity that are extraordinary that Christ is the son of God, that Christ was the second person of the Trinity who becomes incarnate. That's an astonishing claim to supernatural reality. Let's take the central claim of the New Testament that on the cross we see not the death of a convicted criminal outside of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans, but we see an event of cosmic significance in that it is in the atonement designed to reconcile fallen creatures to adjust and holy God, which is how the New Testament understands and interprets the death of Jesus and the Scripture we read the astonishing assertion that this Jesus who was crucified on good Friday came back out of the grave and was raised from the dead, which is the central tenant of Christian faith, the resurrection, and then ascended bodily into heaven, and so one. These are all supernatural episodes that are at the very core of the New Testament message regarding Christ.
That is, for better or for worse. The New Testament message is steeped in the super natural and the Bible claims to be giving us this message on nothing less, than the authority of God himself. Now suppose the claim that the Bible makes that it is inspired that it is God's truth that the prophets are speaking not under their own impetus were from the vantage point of their own human insights, but are speaking by divine inspiration so that they justly can say, thus saith the Lord, suppose none of that is true. Is it possible rationally that the rest of the content could be true. I would say yes I could say that people who were eyewitnesses of Jesus could get it. Basically right that he was in fact dying as an atonement that they saw him come out of the tomb alive. They don't have to be inspired by the Holy Ghost. The recognize a resurrection for what it is. If they actually experience that. And if they were standing on the Mount of olives and watch Jesus visibly ascended to heaven we don't have to have an inspired witness for that to be true.
But again, remember these are profoundly astonishingly supernatural events that are being recorded and if our primary source of our primary witnesses to these extravagant and extraordinary events are wrong about their own authority that casts a huge shadow over the veracity of their testimony. The main if I came into you today and I said I was just out at the cemetery and I saw somebody come up out of a grave, that you would be hard-pressed to give much credence to what I have just announced to you and then I say, but you have to believe me because my words are inspired by God himself and then you demonstrate that my report is filled with all kinds of contradictions and you come to the conclusion that the details show that I'm less than an errant or infallible witness does that automatically disproves the fundamental claim I've made no but it certainly would seem to indicate that I was hardly a trustworthy witness to base your complete commitment on for the rest of your life here and I want better evidence. I hope then somebody who's walking around claiming to have authority that they do not have. So again I say to you that the Bible claims to be inspired in my judgment doesn't make it inspired, but it elevates the stakes it makes the issues all the more significant and so we have to examine that truth claim of Scripture in terms of its claim to be inspired as we develop an apologetic, blindly accepting the truth claim doesn't make for a very defensible position but is this series by Dr. RC Sproul continues in the coming weeks we will see that examining the truth claims of the Bible elitist, solid and secure conclusions you're listening to Renewing Your Mind on the Saturday. Thank you for being with us today. Again, the series is called defending your faith in surveys the history of apologetics and introduces us to the basic foundations of logic become in this 32 message series to its on 11 DVDs and will be happy to send you the full set when you give a donation of any amount to look at your ministries call us with your gift at 800-435-4343.
You can also find us online at Renewing Your Mind.work. This is a video series. Each message is less than 30 minutes. So if you have teenagers in your homework perhaps you leave a Sunday school class at your church's videos provide a solid foundation for apologetics. So again request defending your faith when you contact us today with your donation. Our number is 800-435-4343 better online address is Renewing Your Mind.work next Saturday. Dr. Spruill shows us why we can trust the truth claims of the Bible will continue the series with a message that points us to the authority of Scripture. So I hope you'll join us next week for Renewing Your Mind