Christian Apologetics Free Course 04, Lesson 01
The Reliability Of The Canon
As we write these words, even the last book of the Bible is almost two thousand years old. The earliest book would be over 3500 years old. Perhaps no other book of such antiquity enjoys the same widespread use or such spiritual status. This makes it a book frequently attacked by rationalists and the so-called “modernists”.
True, many other books also claim such ancient origin but there is a difference between them and the Bible. First, the claimed antiquity of these books has not been sufficiently established. Second, these books (such as the Vedas) deal primarily with philosophy and not with history. The historical content of these non Christian books is minimal, and these historical passages have almost no bearing upon their philosophical message. Their philosophical message is not dependent upon the reliability of their historical content.
On the other hand, the theology and philosophy of the Bible is intricately and inseparably linked with the reliability of its historical narrative. The history in the Bible might perhaps be able to survive without the theology, but the theology of the Bible cannot survive without its history. Thus if the historical content of the Bible is destroyed, or if it is falsified, the theology of the Bible is automatically destroyed. The radicals and atheists were quick to understand this, and this is why they spend immeasurable amounts of time and energy to attack the historical reliability of Bible and its narratives.
On the other hand, history is a subject more tangible that philosophical speculation. Thus while the critic finds history a good ground for attacking the Bible, the apologist realizes that the tangible nature and the general reliability of historical information can be used for defending the Bible in a more definite and confident manner. What’s more, here is an area which can be handled even by those people who have no background or training in sciences.
The word Canon means measuring rod. Thus it is used in a given subject for a collection of information which becomes the standard by which everything in that field is measured. For the Christian apologist, Canon is a word commonly used to denote the Bible. The attacks against the Canon of the Bible centers around the following points:
a. Purity/Integrity Of The Cannon
b. Accuracy Of The Information In The Canon
In the last two to three hundred years the critics have tried their best to attack the Bible on all these points. Initially they even seemed to win, but the close of the nineteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth century brought so many archaeological and historical discoveries that today none can question the Canon on these points. Thousands of manuscripts, tens of thousands of references to the history recorded in the Bible, and even entire nations with their libraries have been discovered. Thus today Bible stands as the most vindicated and amazing ancient book in the world. It would be profitable to discuss some of these subjects in greater detail.