How Do I Respond to Bible Critics?
Contemporary critics sometimes claim that since the Bible contains so many miracles, it just can't be true. Either these are just made up stories, they argue, or simple people were just tricked.
While the Bible is the bestselling book in history, it's arguably also the most criticized. There are, of course, different kinds of biblical criticism. Some are considered scholarly disciplines and, at their best, seek to bring to light valuable insights about the biblical manuscripts and their meaning. But more often than not, critics of the Bible are not out to praise it, but to put it down.
The next article in this series – "How do I handle Bible difficulties?" – will offer specific tips on dealing with common critical approaches and passages meant to confound Christians. But this article is more about how to go about responding in general to criticisms leveled against the Bible. As such, we'll look at some common criticisms of the Bible and offer an overview of some of the more scholarly objections.
Christians believe the Bible contains God's words to us – words that contain ideas related to the nature of God, the nature of Christ, the nature of human beings, the nature of salvation, and more. All of these topics are of great significance. If the Bible is in error in any one of these areas, then the insights of the critics are of supreme importance. But if the Bible is trustworthy in what it says, then we'd do well to heed what it says. What, then, do the critics claim and how can we respond?
What About Miracles?
The first criticism we will address has to do with miracles. Contemporary critics sometimes claim that since the Bible contains so many miracles, it just can't be true. Either these are just made up stories, they argue, or simple people were just tricked. In reality, just one miracle is too much for the modern mind. Why? Unfortunately, much of Western thinking in particular is grounded in naturalism – a worldview that believes that only the physical or material world exists. Based on this perspective, anything supernatural such as a miracle, is immediately suspect. As a result, this sort of critical approach to the Bible immediately casts doubt on key Christian beliefs such as the bodily resurrection of Christ.
There are many ways to respond to this sort of critic. It will be helpful to point out that it is the presupposition that naturalism is true that rules out miracles. But if God exists, then miracles are possible. Another approach involves turning the tables, so to speak, and casting doubt on naturalism. What are the reasons the critic believes in naturalism? This is also a helpful time to offer positive arguments for the existence of God. It may also be beneficial to take the resurrection of Christ as a historical example of an event that cannot be explained reasonably by any other means other than by calling it what it was – a miracle.
Is the Bible "full of contradictions?"
Another popular approach of Bible critics is to claim that since the Bible is full of so many contradictions, it just can't be trusted. At this juncture it is often helpful to ask for a specific example of a contradiction. Often, causal critics of the Bible will just claim it is "full of contradictions" as a rhetorical method. In other words, they may not have any specific examples in mind, but are just posturing and hoping no one will challenge them. If the critic does not have a specific example of what they consider a contradiction in the Bible, then politely ask them to offer one, otherwise they are making claims without proof.
But what if they do have one or more specific contradictions that they can cite, chapter and verse? This is where it is helpful for the Christian to have a good understanding of what they believe, why they believe it, as well as some general knowledge on interpreting the Bible correctly. 123