"Yeah but the Bible isn't reliable..." "Christians tampered with the gospels centuries later..." "You surely can't think the Bible is trustworthy!"
I wonder how many times you've had these kinds of objections thrown at you by friends. You say something about the Bible or Jesus or church and bang; you're left facing someone who either has a very strange expression on their face (the ‘you-don't-believe-that' look) or someone who's about to throw loads of questions and comments about the Bible at you. Recognise the situation?
I've certainly had my share. And there have been plenty of times that I've asked myself the same questions too. But these were the kinds of questions we were thinking over at a recent Student Supper.
But here are the highlights of the answers Charlie Skrine gave.
We have what was originally written
This might sound simple to us but you'd be surprised what people come up with when they haven't actually looked at the evidence. In terms of manuscripts and evidence we have a near complete record of what was written. There are some variants between some of the manuscripts but in nearly every case the variant is completely inconsequential (an odd ‘and' or ‘but').
We have good reason to trust the authors and where we can check their account, it is accurate
If you look at the books of the Bible, the authors seem genuine - most of them died for believing in what they wrote about; they were eyewitnesses or knew the eyewitnesses so had good access to what actually happened; and the accounts are historically consistent as far as we know from looking at other historical records.
The record of events deserves reading as history and we can come to sure conclusions about Jesus based on what they said
That's the challenge for us as Christians but also the challenge we can give to our friends. So next time we get asked about these issues, let's have a bit of confidence as we encourage them to read the Bible themselves and make some conclusions on who Jesus is!