Does the hypocrisy of Christians mean others can safely REJECT God's word?
Before considering the evidence for the Bible, it's necessary first to consider two popular objections to belief in it: The hypocrisy of many believers in it, and whether "all paths lead to God."
Taking up the issue of Christians believing one thing yet doing another first, many people will reason: "Because my relative, friend, coworker, boss, or that famous TV evangelist or politician is a hypocrite while professing Christianity, therefore, I won't believe in the Bible." Fundamentally, this argument is unsound for a very simple reason: As a matter of philosophical logic, the Bible is true or false regardless of the behavior of those believing in it.
Whether Jesus is or isn't the Son of God and the Savior of humanity has nothing to do over how dishonest is (say) your brother-in-law who claims to be a Christian. Furthermore, each individual's spiritual status before God is determined individually, by one's own conduct and faith, not by someone else's. The sins of (say) a minister who committed adultery have nothing to do over what someone else's spiritual status is before God: One's own actions and faith determine that, not his. If God wishes someone to be a Christian (John 6:44), the sins of some Christian one knows won't save one if one commits similar sins. As the prophet Ezekiel wrote:
"The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).
The sins of someone professing Christianity don't cancel out God's commands for someone else. The proper response to seeing someone who sins yet says he or she is a Christian isn't, "That allows me to do as I please!," but, "I shall do better!"
Then, we need to consider how someone who professes Christianity who sins (say) half as much as he used to is better than the equivalent person who still denies Christianity whose behavior is totally unaffected by God's commands. It's also unfair to demand perfection of others who uphold an absolute morality, while committing the same sins oneself, since human frailty and weakness will inevitably manifest itself in all individuals. (We just tend to overlook the problems we cause for others, saying we had good excuses or motives, while judging others as having the worst possible motives when they do something that hurts us or someone we love). The Bible makes it plain that Christians will sin sometimes:
"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:8-9)
Finally, often people will reason, "Because professing Christians killed people through the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Thirty Years War, etc., therefore, I refuse to believe in the Bible." This argument is rarely run against the other side, though logically it should be: How many people have given up belief in atheism due to the sins of the communist dictators Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, who butchered roughly 100 million people between them? The body count that atheists have run up in this century alone far exceeds anything that the Roman Catholic Church has accomplished over the past (say) 1,700 years combined. Therefore, using the sins of professing Christians to reject the Bible is illogical, since the sins of others don't cancel out God's law as it applies to us individually, and the truth or falsity of the Bible (or God's existence) is logically independent of the sins of anyone believing in it (or Him).
Do all paths lead to God?
Do all paths lead to God? Can we be saved regardless of our beliefs, so long as we are sincere enough? The Bible is very clear that there is only one path to God, not many:
"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6).
Similarly, the apostle Peter said:
"And there is salvation in no one else [Jesus]: for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Saying "all paths lead to God" sounds nice and tolerant, but is it in fact true? What sounds nice may actually be false! (Consider how many think the dogmas of Marxism sound nice, yet they unleashed rivers of blood in practice!) This statement needs investigating before we accept it, just like any other important belief we have, not mere blind, unthinking acceptance.
Today, in our pluralistic, multicultural society, it's condemned as intolerant and politically incorrect to say there is only one true religion. But if an Almighty God inspired these two statements, and they are true, it doesn't matter what any human thinks otherwise. Our job then is to line up our lives with Him, and proclaim that truth to others, regardless of what others may think. The Bible clearly states that there is only one God and one true religion. To say otherwise, and believe (say) Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism are also true religions, is to deny the Bible. For true Christianity, it's incorrect to say that believers in an absolute truth will cause them to persecute others. Although so many professing His name have violated this, Jesus made it clear Christians are to love their enemies, which means persecuting non-believers is always immoral (Matthew 5:44):
"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."
Likewise the apostle Paul wrote (Romans 12:17-18):
"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. . . . If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."
Sincerity simply isn't enough, since one can be sincerely wrong: Consider all the enthusiastic believers in communism in this century, truly a god that failed. We need to be rational in our religious beliefs, and not just determine them by emotion and tradition alone. But now--how can we know whether the Bible is right when it proclaims it has the only true way to reach God?
How can the Bible can logically proven?
The Bible has the answers - but how do you know whether these are the right ones?
Suppose you were raised knowing nothing about the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament, like some tribe in the jungles of New Guinea or along the Amazon in Brazil. One day, a missionary comes along, and drops on you a copy of the Bible. Suppose it was in your own language and you are literate enough to read it. How could you judge whether its contents are true? Suppose a competing religion's missionary left a Quran (Koran) behind. How could you judge whether that book was reliable? To be rational in our religious beliefs, instead of just blindly following what our parents believe, we need to apply reason and not just emotion to figuring out what our religious beliefs should be.
Later on in this paper, evidence for the historical reliability of the Bible is presented. But first, fulfilled prophecy is presented as the ultimate proof for the Bible's inspiration. Historical accuracy merely is a necessary condition for inspiration, not a sufficient one. A book could be perfectly accurate historically, such as one on the life of Abraham Lincoln, yet not be inspired by God or hold any authority over our lives. Historical accuracy merely keeps the Bible from being ruled out as the Word of God, but by itself doesn't present much of a positive case for its inspiration. But it's another story to explain how the Bible could predict the future in advance accurately centuries after its prophets died. Rationally, this requires belief that its authors received supernatural guidance. Below prophecies that were fulfilled after some part of the Bible was written but before the twentieth century are examined.
Predictions of events yet to happen, such as judgment day, the second coming, the resurrection of the dead, etc. aren't examined here, because they have yet to happen. Hence, although the Quran (Koran) may predict repeatedly a day of judgment, that does little to prove God inspired it since that event hasn't happened yet!
So let's explore the evidence that the Bible successfully predicted the future, which leads us to infer that its authors received supernatural help.