Does Christianity Stand on Faith or Evidence?
I had an interesting e-mail exchange with an agnostic this week. He wrote: "If there were good evidence to corroborate the Bible, would you need faith? Correct me if I am mistaken, but faith lies at the core of the Christian worldview, not reliance on evidence."
That is an excellent question and one that I suspect lies at the heart of why many agnostics and atheists have yet to seriously evaluate Christianity. If they only knew that the core of the Christian worldview is actually evidence rather than faith, many of them might finally look at the evidence with an open mind. It is only after one is presented solid evidence that he is invited to place his faith in the facts of the Gospel. Christian faith stands on something permanent and proven.
I am talking about mathematical and statistical evidence that any jury would hear about if the Bible was put on trial. Just as the Book of Mormon could be put on trial to determine its historical reliability or lack thereof, so also the Bible can be judged as being either miraculous or man-made.
There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The statistical probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even 8 such prophecies would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. If you are willing to think rationally when it comes to religion, you will discover that it is impossible that the Bible did not come from God. No scheme of man could have pulled it off over those many centuries. In order to reject the Bible, a person must have a strong predisposition against it from the outset. Otherwise, the evidence makes it a "slam-dunk case."
To tell you the truth, I don't think it takes very much faith to believe that "all Scripture is God-breathed." (2 Timothy 3:16 ) How much faith does it take a jury to come back with a verdict in the midst of overwhelming evidence? What if a jury had 300 pieces of evidence that all pointed to the same person the way 300 biblical prophecies all point to Christ? "Earth to you; Let go of your religious predispositions. Come back down to reality, logic, reason, facts, evidence, and mathematical certainty before you decide whether to accept or reject the Bible."
Skeptics will say, "You are using the Bible to validate the Bible." True. But we are really dealing with 66 books written over hundreds of years. There is no dispute among scholars regarding the historical accuracy of the Bible. William Albright was a biblical and archeological scholar who mastered more than 26 ancient and modern languages. Albright wrote, "The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phrases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history."
I love the way Charlie Campbell lays out 10 solid reasons to completely trust the Bible. He goes into detail on each one, but here are the basic categories:
1. Fulfilled Prophecy
2. Archaeological Verification
3. The Bible’s Internal Consistency
4. External Verification
5. The Bible’s Amazing Scientific Accuracy and Foresight
6. The Manuscript Evidence
7. The Bible’s Forthrightness about Its Author’s and Hero’s Failures
8. The Willingness of Jesus’ Disciples to Suffer
9. The Bible’s Transforming Power for Good
10. The Testimony of Jesus, the Son of God
Go ahead and do the research as you read Charlie's material as well as others who have provided similar information. It is all available for those who are open to discovering the greatest treasure man will ever find.
Christianity stands on facts. It stands on evidence. Christianity is entered into through faith. It is not a blind faith. It is faith in the facts. It is faith in something concrete. Christianity builds on past events and believes for the future fulfillment of all of God's prophecies and promises. Without the Bible, we would only have mystical experiences to rely upon. How trustworthy would that be?
You will never find evidence like what we have in the Bible. Try to find one "holy" book of any other religion that has even ONE fulfilled prophecy. Where is the mathematical evidence in any of those religions? Where is the statistical and mathematical certainty to stand on when stepping out in faith for future events and for the eternal well-being of your immortal soul?
The order is for Christianity is: (1) Evidence; (2) Faith; and then (3) Assurance. Christianity stands upon evidence. It is personally received through faith that Jesus died for your sins on the cross. It brings comforting assurance to those who have stepped out in faith to trust Christ. You will never have the true assurance of salvation until you take a step of faith based on the evidence. Some non-Christians have a false sense of assurance without Christ, but in the end it tragically disappoints. Their assurance is not based on solid evidence, but only faith in someone or something other than the Jesus of the Bible.
God made you as a rational human being. God has given us rational reasons to know that He is trustworthy. Just look out into the universe. It it rational to believe that only God could have created such majesty. "The heavens declare the glory of God." (Psalm 19:1) Are you listening to His voice in the heavens? Are you evaluating the evidence reasonably? Only close-minded people reject overwhelming evidence. Close-minded people don't act rationally, but only emotionally and with stubborn proclivities.
There is more than enough evidence for any jury to "convict" the Bible of being "guilty" of divine inspiration. It is not only a stretch to reject the Bible and to reject Christ. It is spiritual insanity. Man is literally out of his mind to ignore such thorough evidence. And yet, we see examples everyday of people who make horrible decisions even though the clear weight of evidence should have convinced them that the consequences are going to be far worse than any temporary satisfaction. Sin makes man very irrational. He acts too impulsively and he closes his mind toward God very quickly. When man isn't rational, he destroys his earthly life and even his eternal soul.
The opposite of that behavior is a person who believes God with little or no evidence to go on. There was a once a man whose religion stood on faith rather than tons of evidence. His name was Abraham. The Bible tells us, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (James 2:23) What history did Abraham really have to go on before he was asked to trust God? What prophecies had been fulfilled? What evidence did he have to stand on? Very little compared to what you and I have been given over the past 6000 years of biblical history. Abraham was a man of tremendous faith.
If Abraham could believe God with little history to go on, you can certainly do it once you have studied the evidence for the Bible with your rational mind. God can be trusted. He always comes through and does what He says He will do.
If you were called up for jury duty and the case had to do with the reliability of the Bible, would you be able to make it through the jury selection process? Or would your predispositions immediately disqualify you? It would be a shame for you to miss out on going to trial for the most important case you will ever decide.