Biblical Reliability

Apologetics for Teens

What is apologetics? In short, it is giving good reasons and evidence to believe that Christianity is true. Apologetics focuses on some big questions about the truth of Christianity, like “Does God exist?” “Who was Jesus?” “How do we know Jesus is God?” “Is the Bible even historically reliable?” Often, these questions can be hard to answer to a skeptical world, especially when being confronted with them for the first time. In this course, we seek to equip teens with the resources they need to navigate these issues. This course contains most of the same basic material from the “Intro to Apologetics” course, but it is presented at a high-school level.

Was the Messiah Predicted in the Old Testament?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

In Galatians Paul wrote that the Law served as a “tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). Even though Paul was specifically referring to the Mosaic Law, the same could be said concerning the Old Testament as a whole. The Messiah, His person, His work, and His ministry were anticipated through allusion and imagery, not the least of which was the establishment of a theology concerning substitutionary atonement. This laid the groundwork for understanding our need for a Messiah because it explained how we came to be the wretched beings that we are, why God’s moral righteousness means our situation is so dire, and what must be done to reconcile us back to the loving relationship with God we were created for.

Introduction to Apologetics

What is apologetics? In short, it is giving good reasons and evidence to believe that Christianity is true. Apologetics focuses on some big questions about the truth of Christianity such as the following: Does God exist? Who was Jesus? How do we know Jesus was God? Is the Bible even historically reliable? Questions like these often appear front and center in our culture where skepticism of religious claims is the norm. The lectures below can help prepare you to address these questions in a Biblical manner, giving a "defense for the hope that you have" in Christ "with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). Follow along with Adam’s Introduction to Apologetics class to learn about the good reasons and evidence for God, Jesus, and the truth of the Scriptures.

What Books Should Be in the Bible?

How do we know what is a message from God and what isn’t? We know by miracles, which authenticate that something is really from God. There were three unique time periods when many miracles took place, and these were the times that major parts of the Bible were being written: the time of Moses, the time of the prophets, and the time of Jesus and the apostles. There is good historical evidence that the apostles did miracles to back up their claims, so the New Testament should include the books that the apostles said were from God. The early church did the historical research necessary to conclude that the 27 books in the New Testament were really messages from God and that books like the so-called "Gospel of Thomas" were not. Early church councils like the Council of Nicaea didn’t make the Bible; they merely verified which books were really affirmed by the apostles. An apostle’s affirmation of a book was more important than its authorship, because not all books (Mark, Luke, Hebrews) were written by an apostle. For the Old Testament, we can look at the development of the Hebrew canon and what Jesus and the apostles affirmed to determine what books should be in the Old Testament. There is disagreement among Christians about the “apocryphal” or “deuterocanonical” books. Catholic and Orthodox Christians accept some of them while Protestants reject all of them. Even though we disagree on this, if God exists and Jesus is God, then Christianity is true, even if we’ve made minor mistakes about which books should be included in the Bible.

Is the Bible from God?

What reasons and evidence do we have to believe that the Bible is really from God? Our main source of evidence for this is that those people who wrote the Bible, who had messages from God, were able to do miracles to prove or authenticate that their messages were from God. Jesus and His disciples claimed that the Old and New Testaments were from God, and then they did authenticating miracles to back up those claims. However, the Bible is a collection of documents written by human beings, not by God Himself. The doctrine of inspiration tells us how God used human beings to communicate His messages. Even though the Bible is from God, there are two senses in which it can be considered true: it can be true for all major historical events but may have small errors with minor details, or it can be completely correct in all details. This latter sense is called the doctrine of inerrancy, the claim that the Bible contains no errors. Christians believe the Bible is inerrant because God inspired the text of Scripture, and God cannot lie. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was written in order to explain what Christians do and don’t mean when they speak about the Bible being inerrant. However, even if we’re wrong about inerrancy, Christianity would still be true, because God still exists and Jesus is still God, even if the Bible contained some minor errors.

Why Believe the New Testament Authors Told the Truth?

Sometimes it can be hard to know if a person is telling the truth, but there are common indicators we often use to determine if someone is probably telling the truth and has the facts straight. By applying these criteria to the New Testament, we can see good evidence that the New Testament authors told the truth. This evidence includes the fact that the New Testament writers gave their testimony soon after the events took place. Through historical analysis, we can verify that their testimonies include may accurate historical facts and are confirmed by non-Christian historical sources. In addition, the New Testament authors include embarrassing details in their accounts that make them look bad. Since any differences between the gospel testimonies turn out to be small and reconcilable, it increases the credibility the accounts. Finally, the fact that the New Testament authors were wiling to suffer and die for their testimonies indicates that they believed they were telling the truth. Overall, these reasons can give us confidence that what the New Testament writers told us about Jesus is what they believed to be the truth.

Do We Have an Accurate Copy of the Original New Testament?

If Jesus’ miracles are good evidence to believe that He was God, how do we know that Jesus performed miracles in the first place? The New Testament contains much of the evidence of Jesus’ miracles, but can we trust the New Testament? Does the text we have today accurately represent the original New Testament? Bart Ehrman, a New Testament scholar, says there are some problems with the accuracy of the New Testament. Another New Testament scholar, Bruce Metzger, believes that the copy of the New Testament we have today is highly accurate. Two main criteria considered when looking at the accuracy of ancient documents are the number of copies we have and the length of time between the original the copies that survived. When we compare the New Testament to other ancient documents such as writings of Aristotle, Herodotus, and Homer, we find that there are many more and much earlier copies of the New Testament than almost all other ancient documents. We have over 6,000 surviving Greek copies of the New Testament, some written within 150-200 years of the original. According to Bruce Metzger, we can recreate the original New Testament text with 99.5% accuracy.

Is the Bible True?

Christians believe that the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, is a message from God, but how do we know that the Bible is true? Can we really trust what we read there? How do we know what books should be in the Bible, and who originally made that decision? Join Adam for this eight-part series as he shows that there is good evidence to believe that the Bible really is a message from God and that we can trust what it says. In fact, our eternal destiny depends on its message.

Christian and Skeptic Debate: Is the Bible True?

On April 22, 2020, during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adam Lloyd Johnson and Luke Pitts engaged in a debate over Zoom about whether the Bible was true and could be trusted. Adam, as a Christian, defended that the Bible is true, that it gets the major events right and is also correct in all its details. Luke, a skeptic, argued that the Bible was not reliable or trustworthy because of many strange, unusual, and even contradictory things found within it. The exchange included four speeches by each participant as well as a time for questions at the end.

What Books Should Be in the New Testament?

The New Testament is the part of the Bible written during the first century which contains 27 books that Christians believe were inspired by God. But who chose to put these books into the New Testament, and how do we know that they put the rights books into the New Testament? Since the New Testament is just a collection of messages from God, the more pertinent question is this: how do we know which messages are really from God? The apostles were the group of first-century people appointed by God for a special mission to start and grow the early church. The apostles were given the ability to perform miracles to validate their message, to show that it really was from God. Thus, we can look at the historical evidence that early church councils used to discover which books the apostles said were messages from God as a guide to know which books should be included in the New Testament.