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Is the Bible the inspired Word of God, or was it simply written by men? Do you know how to respond to this question?
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
It truly is a secular age. I had the opportunity to be at a state school a couple of years ago for a student led club. I began answering some questions that the students had at the end of the lecture. Even though there was a very negative tone coming from many of the questioners, I remained courteous in each response.
Most of the questions were common and fairly easy to answer. The questions first began with the creation-evolution debate, dealing with dinosaurs and radiometric dating. After those were answered, the questions became more impassioned and were directed towards God and the Bible: "Who created God?" and "Isn’t the Bible full of contradictions?" At the end, one question came up that I did not have an opportunity to answer. A student asked "Was the Bible written by men?" The bell rang and out they went. I wished this question would have come up sooner because it gets closer to the heart of the issue.
I didn’t realize the importance of this question until I saw a statistical analysis of young people who had walked away from the church. Out of 1,000 young adults who have left church, 44% of them said that they did not believe the accounts in the Bible were true and accurate. When asked what made them answer this way, the most common response (24%) said that the Bible was written by men (not God, albeit inspiring men). The remaining results are shown below.1
Even though 24% question the accuracy of the Bible because it was written by men, there are other related answers in this study. For example, 11% believe the Bible contains errors. This implies that “God could not have been involved,” since God does not make errors (Psalm 12:6; Deuteronomy 32:4; Hebrews 6:18). Also, 15% claim that the Bible contradicts itself. This implies that God was not involved since God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13) and, thus, contradict Himself. So at least 50% would, in one way or another, dispute that a perfect God was responsible for the Bible!
When it comes to authorship of the Bible, of course men were involved. Christians would be the first to point this out. For example, Paul wrote letters to early churches that are included in the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15–16). David wrote many of the Psalms. Moses wrote the Pentateuch, or the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). In fact, it is estimated that over 40 different human authors were involved.2 So, this is not the issue.
The issue is this: did God have any involvement or not? Did God inspire the authors of the Scriptures?3 When someone claims that the Bible was written by men and not God, this is an absolute statement that reveals something extraordinary.
It reveals that the person saying this is claiming to be transcendent! When one claims that God was not inspiring the human authors of the Bible, that person is claiming to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent!
So, the person making the claim that the Bible was written by men is claiming to be God; but these three attributes belong solely to God. This is a religious issue of humanism versus Christianity. The person is claiming (perhaps inadvertently) that they are the ultimate authority over God and are trying to convince you that God is subservient to them. This needs to be addressed in responding to them.
I like to respond in ways that reveal this issue in a question—and there are several ways to do it. For example, you can address “omnipresence” by asking, “Do you really believe that you are omnipresent? The only way for you to prove that God had no involvement in the writing of the Scriptures is for you to be omnipresent.” Then point out that he/she is claiming to be God when they made the statement that God had no involvement in the Bible.
Or perhaps respond with the question, “How is it that you are powerful enough to stop God from inspiring the authors of the Bible?” Or you can direct the question to the rest of the listeners by simply asking, “Do the rest of you think that this person is God? The only way to refute that God inspired the Bible is by claiming attributes of God for yourself, such as omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience.” You may have to explain further at this point so that the listeners will better understand.
You can always lead them down the path by first asking an easier question: “How do you know that God was not involved?” But then you will have to listen to their response in order to know how to proceed after that.
Since the Bible alone contains detailed predictive and fulfilled prophecy, it alone can qualify as being authenticated by God.Other methods of responding are to undercut the entire position by pointing out that any type of reasoning apart from the Bible is merely arbitrary. So, the person trying to make a logical argument against the claims of the Bible (i.e., that God inspired the authors) is doing so only because he/she is assuming the Bible is true—that logic and truth exist! It is helpful to point out these types of presuppositions and inconsistencies.4
Someone may respond: “What if I claim that Shakespeare was inspired by God—then you would have to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent to refute it.”
Actually, it is irrelevant for me to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent to refute it. God, who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, refutes this claim from what He has already stated in the Bible. Nowhere did God self-authenticate Shakespeare’s writings as Scripture. However Christ, the Creator-God (John 1; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1), approved the Old Testament prophetic works and the New Testament apostolic works. The canon is already sealed.5
God has repeatedly authenticated the supernatural character of Scripture through prophecy. In Isaiah 40–46, God states that He is distinguished from the other so-called gods in many ways (He is the Creator; He is the One who sits above the circle of the earth; etc.). God alone can tell the future (see especially Isaiah 41:21–29). Since the Bible alone contains detailed predictive and fulfilled prophecy, it alone can qualify as being authenticated by God.
Sadly, in today’s society, children (churched or not) are being heavily exposed to the religion of humanism, which reigns in state schools. So, it is logical that the next generation would be thinking in terms of humanism and apply that to the Bible.
The student about whom I previously spoke was applying the religion of humanism (i.e., man is the authority, not God) to the Bible when he claimed that it was written merely by men. He viewed himself as the authority and not God. He further reasoned that there is no God at all, and, therefore, the Bible could not have had God’s involvement. Therefore, his statement that the Bible was written by men was a religious claim—he was claiming to be God. Many follow this same thought process but fail to realize its implications and problems.
You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3).
If one can expose the false religion of humanism, then others may be more open to realizing the deception. After all, the person is not the enemy; rather, it is the false principalities and dark powers that are at work trying to deceive (Ephesians 6:12) that we must demolish (2 Corinthians 10:5).