Book Review: Why Believe the Bible? By John MacArthur

Book Review: Why Believe the Bible? By John MacArthur
The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Why Believe the Bible by John MacArthur, MacArthur uses a debate format, asking questions and then providing answers.

I liked the format. One can skip straight to a question they have or want a better answer (apologetic) for. A lot of the content is information you could find in other parts of MacArthur’s work. That’s mostly because there are really only two necessary arguments in apologetics.

There is a God.

The Bible is the authoritative word of God.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t more questions to ask or moments of satisfaction when archeological studies continuously prove the Biblical record. What I’ve come to see as a trend in any apologetic writings is that those two main points are the lynchpins of any apologetics. If one comes to believe those two assertions, he may wonder how things align or how things worked, but he can’t do less than fall to his knees in worship.

This writing does build off the above premise. Some of the questions I hear a lot are covered in this book. Who “decided” which books were part of the Bible? The answer isn’t just some group of people. There was a process that relied on specific criteria, and that started with the authority of God and Jesus, who then granted authority to His apostles. Naturally the next question that comes is how can we trust the words of men (those very same apostles)? For me, it was enough that Jesus granted them authority, but the more important answer is the distinction between mortal author and inspired word, which this book also covers.

While I continue to look for more archeological books to sate my curiosity, this book is absolutely valuable for those who are new to the faith or those who just have questions about Christianity.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Musings on Christianity 45

Musings on Christianity 45

Why Should I Listen To A Book Written By Men?

The next conflict we must resolve before we can truly look at obedience to Christ is that of the men who wrote the Bible. Perhaps you believe in a God. Perhaps you even believe in Christ, but you draw the line there because the Apostles, prophets, and other Biblical authors were mortal men.

The Christian belief is that the truth is God wrote the Bible. He filled His mortal authors with the Spirit who put the words of the Bible in the minds of His instruments.

But what happens if we don’t want to accept that in faith.

That argument doesn’t actually have merit. If you believe in a God who created the Heavens and the Earth and all the host of them (Genesis 2:1), you then have to acknowledge that God can also place words in the minds of His chosen. Moses, credited as the author of the first five books of the Bible, even argued that he was unfit to lead Israel because he wasn’t so good with words.

God replied, “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak (Exodus 4:12).”

The Bible is no different.

Even if one insisted on believing in God as He is portrayed in the Bible, but refuses to acknowledge the authors of that same Bible, one must remember that those authors were still chosen representatives of God.

Moses, Samuel, the judges, the prophets, David, and Solomon  were all chosen by God to be His representatives. He attested to many of them through prophecies, miracles, or both. Therefore, even if those men wrote the Bible as men, they were still the men God chose to spread his word.

So we return to the fundamental choice. You either believe, or you don’t. If you, then, choose to believe in God, you must then respect and submit to those he selected as His representatives, even as mortal men. God would not choose men and then allow them to speak falsely of Him. He certainly wouldn’t endorse those men with miracles if they were not indeed speaking truth on behalf of the LORD.

The same is true of the new testament. Matthew, John, Peter, and Paul were all personally chosen representatives of Christ, Apostles. Mark was essentially Peter’s biographer, and Luke was a historian, documenting the actions of brothers. James and Jude were Christ’s biological brothers.

One can not acknowledge Christ as their lord and master and then refuse to acknowledge the authority of the Apostles Christ commanded to establish the body. The temptation is to refuse that authority so they can reject the commandments established by scripture. To want to follow Christ, but refuse to follow His very first disciples, is simply hypocritical.

Those who choose to follow Christ, submit to Him, and through Him those He appointed to lead and teach the gospel on Earth, must submit to the commandments left by Christ through his Apostles regardless of their humanity. Christ named Peter as the stone on which the church would be built. If Christ chose to build his church on Peter, who then are we to ignore that stone?

My theory is that those who want to take this path do so because the Apostles categorically deny actions and lifestyles that today’s society wants to embrace. How can someone reconcile religion with today’s tolerant society? The only way to do that would be to try and deny the words of those God the Father and God the Son chose to minister to humanity, and we simply can’t do that. This means we must acknowledge their authority.

There may be debate over translations. There may be arguments over application, but there can not be any denial of their authority without also denying the God who gave such authority.

One may rebut this assertion by saying anyone can do anything and claim it is in the name of God. That happens all the time. I don’t deny that happens, but I remind you that the Biblical authors were all authenticated by prophecy, miracles, or both. Indeed anyone (just look at this very book) can write whatever they want. Some may even go so far as to say they’re writing the words of a God. The Bible even tells us the Antichrist himself will come and perform miracles and wonders. The difference there is the Bible warns us about these individuals. When Christ returns, everyone will know in that moment. He’ll come with the army of Heaven like a steak of lighting that stretches across they sky (Matthew 24:27).

Christ’s chosen were authenticated by Christ Himself, and Christ authenticated their ministry with miracles and wonders, many of which occurred even before the Passion.

This brings us back again to the ultimate yes or no question. You can choose to believe in Christ and submit to Him, and in doing so, His chosen Apostles, or you can choose to reject Christ. Once more we see that one can not try and do both. There is no middle ground in this respect.

For our panel: What other reasons would there be for people to want to believe in Christ but reject the Bible? Are the words of the Apostles (or other Biblical authors) truly trustworthy even though they are only men?  What evidence is there that those who wrote the Bible truly did so while filled by the Spirt of God Himself? What if someone today started writing, proclaiming to be doing the same thing? If the Antichrist is said to come and perform miracles, how can we trust the miracles of the Apostles and other Biblical authors?