Eight Christian Scholars Defend the Faith/Program 2
| September 27, 1992 |
|By: Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr. , Dave Hunt, Dr. Anis Shorrosh, Dr. Robert
Morey, Dr. John Weldon, Bill Cetnar, Joan Cetnar, Dr. Gleason Archer; ©1992
|How do we know that the Bible is true and it actually came from God? Documentary Hypothesis, the JEDP theory, why the documentary theory is wrong and why the Bible is written the way we’ve always thought it was. How can folks come into a relationship with that God?|
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We have eight guests tonight that are professors and teachers of the Scripture, Old Testament, New Testament, the cults. And we’re glad that they’re with us tonight. We’re going to be talking about the questions that skeptics usually give to Christians in comparing things of the Bible with other books. And we’re going to start off with Dr. Walter Kaiser tonight on the question, “Can we trust our Bible? How do we know that it’s true? How do we know that it is from God? And, Walter, I’ll give you the three questions in advance here and you can just kind of take them in order. Number one, that’s the general all around question, How do we know that the Bible is true and came from God? Second, in terms of the Old Testament – you’re a professor of the Semitic languages and Old Testament – every once in a while you see Time and Newsweek going back to the Documentary Hypothesis, and probably 99% of our secular universities, especially in the religion classes, when you talk about how the Old Testament was written, they go back to this Documentary Hypothesis, the JEDP theory. And I’d like you to hit that and give us just one or two bits of evidence. Just give us a little bit to whet our appetite of why the documentary theory is wrong and why the Bible is written the way we’ve always thought it was.
- Kaiser: Well, John, you’ve given me quite an assignment but I’ll try to zero in on it. I think you can trust your Bible, and I do myself. I trust it mainly because God was here in Jesus Christ and He pointed to it and said, “These are the books that speak of me.” [Luke 24:27] I think that’s your ultimate evidence. But more than that, the case bears out. I like that saying that was on the old “Dragnet” program: “Just the facts. Just the facts.” And I think that’s what we need here, too; just the facts, to come down to the basic evidence. And in each case it seems to me wherever you try the Bible, it comes out in the clear. It’s got the evidence. For example, geographically, as opposed to the Qur’an, for example, time and time again you have geographical reference. You have archaeological kinds of evidence. And where we’ve poked into the sand through accidental finds, here comes the evidence and it accords with what we have expected or what the text at least claimed.
- Now, JEDP. That’s another bit of alphabet soup. And I’m not sure that I can sort of lay the whole thing out. And if you’ve not heard of JEDP before, that’s alright; but if you have, I want to talk to you, because JEDP has one problem. The main problem, I would say, the crucial problem: no one’s ever seen J or E or D or P. I don’t mind documents. I don’t mind sources. Chronicles talks about sources. They’re real sources. Seventy-five times it mentions the Book of Jasher or Book of the Wars of the Lord, Book of the Kings of Israel. Do you want to see anything more, it says, check here.
- But who’s ever seen a hypothetical source, a literary source? This is like a game. You open the Bible and you say, “Let me set up some criteria.” And you get a little checklist and you make criteria 1, let’s see, “Dual names for God.” We don’t have that in the West. Let’s make that number one. And let’s see, double stories. If the story seems to be repeated, we’ll make that, uh-huh, that’ll be a criteria. And you go to, oh, change in vocabulary. Let’s make that three. Then you close the Bible up, then you open it and you say, “Eureka! Look, it works!” Now, there’s something wrong with that. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something being done that I can’t quite capture.
- Now, you ask me, “What’s one good evidence that sort of zeroes in and shows that the JEDP theory has problems?” I don’t know which one to pick out from all of the numerous evidences, but I would say the keystone to this whole theory, J and E and D and P, was D. It is the so-called Deuteronomic document. Josiah found the Book of the Law, remember, in 621. [2 Kings 22; 2 Chron. 35] That he did. But we’re told here by the Documentary theory that that was the D document. Now, the text says it was the Book of the Law written by Moses, but never mind that, it’s the D document.
- But the problem with that is, archaeologically the D document as written in its present literary form… let’s not talk inspiration for the moment; let’s not talk inerrancy for the moment, though I believe in those things. Let’s set them aside just for a moment. And that is, you’ll look and you will see that according to the Suzerainty Treaties of the second millennium, the book of Deuteronomy as written had to come from the second millennium, that is, 1400-1500 BC. Why? Because the five standards parts, prologue, historical review, stipulations, curses and blessings and then provision for a successor are only found in second millennium BC. First millennium BC they dropped out two of the features. So, according to literary form criticism, or put it in terms of sauerkraut, form phonetic gashikta. Lo and behold, here you also have a strong argument that the book was written by Moses in the time that it claimed to be written. So, John, that’s why I have a lot of problems with JEDP, SRL, and all the rest of those documents.
- Ankerberg: That’s right. Dr. Gleason Archer, in Time and in Newsweek, again, we saw them quoting this thing and it’s being touted by the cults in different of their books, that the Bible can’t be trusted. And the example they give is, there are two creation accounts. Tell us why that’s not true.
- Archer: Well, in the first place, I think it ought to be pointed out that there is a fatal logical difficulty in the whole approach of the higher critical school, and that is found in its postulating their conclusion as their premise. This is known as reasoning in a circle. Now, what is their premise? Their premise is that the Bible was a book concocted by men alone in a literary basis just like all other human literature. And therefore, in order to prove this, they have to assume that anything miraculous, anything that is in the nature of fulfilled prophecy which cannot really be explained as of human origin since we do not know the future, all that has to be explained away by alleging that every prophecy which has been fulfilled wasn’t written up until the fulfillment had already taken place.
- Now, getting back to this question of the so-called second version of the creation, what the critics who devised this theory back in the 18th century were unaware of is that it is a common custom amongst the Egyptians and the Semites generally to have a summary statement of a whole field of knowledge or information and then to follow it up with a particular attention to some matter that’s already been mentioned and which is of cardinal importance. Now, obviously, in Genesis 1 the climax comes with the creation of Adam and Eve and the human race. And they are stated to have come into being on the sixth creative day. When you come to chapter 2, you find that there is principal attention given to Adam first. And he has a career as a park warden for the Garden of Eden, and then he has a taxonomic assignment of figuring out appropriate names for the hundreds of species of the animals and the birds, and God comes down to see what he’s going to call them. And then, finally, after Adam is psychologically well prepared, God gives him a bonus. He gives him a beautiful wife named Eve, taken from the bone which is right over his heart in order that he might cherish her.
- Now, what is missing from chapter 2 is any reference to the creation of the sun, the moon, the stars, the oceans or the seas. Now, I defy anyone to show how any other creation account of any pagan religion omitted these very important elements. Of course, they are mentioned in chapter 1 but not in chapter 2. So this is proof positive that what we have in chapter 2 is the detailing of the circumstances under which Adam and then Eve were created.
- Ankerberg: Okay. Talking about that, Dr. Morey, what does it mean to say that the Bible is inspired and inerrant, and why should a thinking Christian believe this? We’ve heard of literary sources; we’ve heard the fact that maybe these accounts parallel the very writings of that day, how does that all jibe together with the fact that God inspired the Bible?
- Morey: Usually I like to begin in terms of an answer to a question like that, let’s say an unbeliever says, “How do you know that the Bible is true?” I begin by saying, “Well, you prove it to me. Every word out of your mouth proves the Bible. Thank you for making me a confirmed Christian. Do you fear God?” “No!” “Well, it says, ‘They shall not fear God. There’s no fear of God. [Rom. 3:18] You’ve proved that verse!’ Is the Gospel foolishness?” “Yes!” “You’ve proved that the Gospel ‘is foolish to them that believeth not.’ [1 Cor. 1:18] Every time you open your mouth!” Everything I experience in life confirms my belief in Scripture because I experience what the Bible says I would experience.
- In logic we simply say this, “If alpha implies beta and you keep finding beta and you keep finding beta, if you break your arm you will have pain and you just keep having pain and you keep…” at some point you’re going to say, “Something’s going on here.” And no matter where we test the Bible, philosophically in terms of internal consistency, empirically in terms of verification by archaeology, fulfilled prophecy, or we look at it in terms of where it will take us in terms of meaning and significance and hope and we can use the law of contradiction.
- When you test a truth claim, there’s about 14 different ways you can do that, and as I look at the Bible – and I came from a non-Christian background. I did not come from a Christian. I was thrown out of my house when I became a Christian – I have seen that the Bible stands up under any attack. And when I wrote that book on atheism and I was reading all the atheists, my wife said, “Honey, what happens if they give you arguments and they destroy your faith?” I said, “I will believe what is true.” And when I got through I said, “Honey, they have nothing. They used the stupidest arguments against the Bible that a baby could refute. A first-year student in logic should be able to refute 99% of those arguments.”
- Everything I experience in life intellectually, personally, in terms of my relationship – how it works with my wife – every detail confirms that the Bible is inspired, it comes from God – God-breathed. It also confirms that it is infallible and inerrant in that it is a perfect and factual record of what it affirms. It records infallibly the lies of people, the false doctrines, the truths, the errors. It records the inhumanity of man, the good, the evil. And the Bible is infallible because those who wrote it wrote only what God wanted them to write. And it’s verified in every way I can conceivably test it.
- Hunt: Yes, and just to verify what he was saying, as an undergraduate at UCLA I made it my point to read everything that I could find that the critics had said to try to destroy the Bible and try to destroy my faith. And as he said, the more I read the stronger my faith got, because these guys, what they’re saying isn’t true. They don’t have a leg to stand on.
- Ankerberg: Okay, Walter, follow up on this if you would and talk a little bit more. A lot of people have a lot of ideas of how actually God got that information to Moses and to the prophets and so on. Tell me a couple of the way so that we kind of broaden their perspective here.
- Kaiser: Well, the writers claimed that they were sort of linked together in a very wonderful way. First Corinthians 2:13, I think, is one of the greatest texts there in which he says that indeed this is truth that was sort of taught us, not in words which we were dictated. In other words the Spirit of God didn’t say “propitiation” and Peter said, “Huh?” And he said, “How do you spell it?” You know? And so I would think that’s a mechanical view. We don’t hold to that.
- But on the other hand there’s a living assimilation of the truth, so much so that you have the preparation of the writer long before: what went into his family, his circumstance, his background, so that the vocabulary that came out was exactly the vocabulary that God wanted. There is a working together not just to the ideas that are in the skulls of the men, but all the way down to the point of the verbalization. That’s why Paul says that the Spirit of God revealed these things to us in words taught, not words dictated, words taught by the Holy Spirit. [1 Cor. 2:13] So that there is a living assimilation between the preparation of the writer and the product that came out, but the product guarded all the way up to the verbal point. You’ve got to hear the claim of the writer.
- And so God spoke through dreams; God spoke through history; God spoke through other men and women to which He then gave the interpretation, the significance. There are just numerous ways. They claim that it’s as wide and as broad as the experience of the living God working with men is.
- But you must understand, some say, “Will not the pure sunlight of God coming through men be distorted, because just like sunlight coming through the rays of a stained glass window are refracted? What’s more human than to err?” That’s a verse somewhere that most people quote. Must be from the book of Hesitations. But they speak of this as sunlight coming through the glass here of the human writer.
- But, you must understand that if the One who sent the sunshine is the One who built the stained glass window, who prepared the writer, then indeed you have the full process with exactly the exact tone and the lighting effect that is the exact revelation that the Spirit of God wanted. So that if you asked, “How does John speak?” Well, if you listen to John 3:16: “For God so loved the world,” you say, “that’s John’s file. I can hear him. He sounds just like that. He talks like that. I’ll bet I know where he came from.” And you can tell from his dialect. Yet that also is precisely what the Holy Spirit wanted, too, as well.
- Ankerberg: Bob.
- Morey: Remember those philosophic questions that every system must answer? The Bible gives me the only sufficient and adequate answer to the existence and form of the universe, the uniqueness of man and why humanism has failed. The world through its wisdom never found, God; but it is through the preaching of the Gospel that God’s wisdom is revealed.
- Ankerberg: Walter, while I’ve got you on the Old Testament here, in the transmission, the many, many years coming down, why do we believe that we have an accurate copy of what the prophets and Moses said over the long period of years?
- Kaiser: Well, once again, John, the facts. How about the Dead Sea Scrolls? Here we had a copy of Isaiah, 1,000 years: we go from approximately AD 1000, we just back to, say, 100 BC. We’ve not seen this text in the interim. And lo and behold, when the Revised Standard Version came out in 1950 they made 13, 13 corrections on 100 pages of text. Thirteen corrections of the type of alternate spelling like the difference I would suppose between the way the British spell Saviour and the way Americans spell Savior – with the u and without the u, for example. But on the other hand, one of my teachers said after that, he said, “We were precipitous on 10 of the 13.” He said, “There were only three variations in over 100 pages of Hebrew text.” That’s pretty good transmission. And not one of them affected a doctrine. Not one of them affected essential points. It was a variation on a spelling. John, that’s the kind of evidence I can give you.
- Ankerberg: People want to ask, “Are there two Isaiahs?”
- Kaiser: Are there two Isaiahs? The answer is, “No, John.” The text claims and says that this is by Isaiah. There’s no break in Isaiah 40. As a matter of fact, we went to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Everyone said, “Let’s see if that’s on a separate column. Let’s see if it’s on a separate scroll.” What do you know? Bad luck. It’s on the bottom here. Here it doesn’t even come up with a whole new column of its own. There’s no break whatsoever. Terrible disappointment for…
- Archer: It’s on the same line! No space!
- Kaiser: It’s on the same line. Broke out all over the scholarly communities.
- Hunt: You guys keep talking and you’re going to get us believing in this book.
- Shorrosh: John, may I remind you, sir, that one of the greatest, for your audience and anybody watching, is the fact that the Bible has been translated in over 1800 languages. And in my journeys in every continent I have found the people believing as if God spoke in that language in which they’re reading. The proof of the inspiration of God in the Word of God.
- Ankerberg: Walter, we’ve been talking primarily about the Old Testament, and now that you’ve given us so many examples of why it’s accurate and why it is from God, give us some proof from prophecy and take us to the Lord Jesus that out of the Old Testament we could come to know the living God personally because of the Messiah that was predicted. Pick out something that you think is just outstanding in the Old Testament.
- Kaiser: Well, there’s so many. Take the Messiah alone. Jesus who came, who came not only once but twice. Some of you remember our conversations on this show some time back with Rabbi Lapide. He said, “My good friend, Kaiser,” he said, “there’s only one coming.” He said, “You Christians believe in two.” But he said, “I only believe in the one coming. When the Messiah comes it will be a time of peace.” And I said, “Dr. Lapide, then what about Zechariah 12:10: ‘They will look on me, Eli.’” I said to him, “Who is speaking?” He said, “God.” I said, “Good. I agree. And is this a time of shalom? Is this a time of peace?” “Yes,” he said. “This is.” Then I said, “They’ll look on me whom they’ve pierced.” And I said, “When did He get pierced?” And he said, “I don’t know.” I said, “I have an idea.”
- Ankerberg: Fantastic.
- Kaiser: So I think these are some of the examples. What about Bethlehem, that He should come and be born in Bethlehem? In Micah 5:2. What about David and David’s family, 2 Samuel 7? What about the fact that it should be from a Semitic base and from a Semitic family, Genesis 9:27? And that He should be a man? That it was not a co-redemptrix of the race but that it was a Redeemer, Genesis 3:15. And what about the whole fact that this One who is coming is, Isaiah 9, the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace? Those are real big names for just an ordinary person. But these are the names of the Son of God.
- Ankerberg: A lot of people, the kids in the schools, the universities, they hear that it’s a bloody religion in the Old Testament. Tie that together with Jesus, would you?
- Kaiser: It’s not a bloody religion in the Old Testament. There is a long account in which God goes very graciously generation after generation after generation. The Canaanites, for example, must have had over a millennium and a half, John. That’s quite a few families, quite a few generations in which God kept calling, “Come back home. Turn. Turn.” The great word of the Old Testament is, “Turn. Turn.” The Hebrew word sub. God’s trying to give them a “shoov” in the right direction. He wants them to come back to Himself and He’s trying to push them back to Himself. And I think that it is not therefore a message of wrath and judgment, but a great message of love and of grace.
- Ankerberg: Walter, how can folks come into a relationship with that God?
- Kaiser: They need to believe on that One, the man of promise who was to come, our Lord Jesus Christ, who walked into history and said, “That one that Moses was talking about, that one that the prophets were talking about, that one that the Psalmist was talking about, I am He.” And He said to those men on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24, “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have said about me. Wasn’t it necessary? Wasn’t it necessary? Come on, fellows? Where did you go to school? Don’t you know anything about anything?” And beginning with Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms He began explaining all things about Himself. [Luke 24:25-27] I urge you to go to that Testament and for you personally to look to see if indeed that isn’t the One who fulfilled everything to the last ounce.
- Ankerberg: Absolutely. Next week we’re going to continue looking at questions about the Bible but we’re going to turn our attention to the New Testament and the questions that skeptics ask and I hope that you’ll join us then. Thank you for being with us.