Growing up in a conservative church in Oklahoma, I never doubted the Bible’s trustworthiness until someone told me I should. It wasn’t until that day when my confidence in the Scriptures was tested that I realized the significance of having assurance that the book on the dash of my car is God’s Word.
Everything I believe, or want to believe, about God is in the pages of this book called “the Bible.” If I can’t trust the Bible, I can’t trust God himself, not to mention the church and the whole Christian life. My faith in Jesus to save me from sin wasn’t shaken, but I needed to know why I could trust the Bible.
In other words, I needed Timothy Paul Jones book Why Should I Trust the Bible?
The Bible is a cobbled-together selection of ancient writings that have been changed so many times by so many people over hundreds of years that it is surely the text can no longer be trusted–right? Certainly, there are plenty of people who take this view. In this book, Timothy Paul Jones addresses the fact that the Bible is a difficult book to believe, filled with of incidents that seem highly improbable, if not impossible. Written for people who are skeptical when it comes to the Bible’s accuracy and authority, this book takes a reasonable look at the claims made about the Bible.
Honest and Humble Approach
Jones—raised in a Bible-believing church and now professor of apologetics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—encountered questions about the Bible’s reliability in college as well. This encounter sent him on a quest to decide whether or not the skepticism that felt more natural than faith was solid ground to stand on, or if there is legitimate evidence for Scripture’s reliability. This thrust him into a lifetime of research to uncover the facts about the Bible. In this book, he has compiled the briefest argument possible for trusting Scripture.
But make no mistake: this isn’t a textbook. It reads like a pivotal conversation with a trusted pastor who patiently works through your hard questions.
This book reads like a pivotal conversation with a trusted pastor who patiently works through your hard questions.
Jones is honest about his own struggles, past and present, with Scripture. But he offers reasons for trusting the Bible because it is “far from irrational to trust the text of Scripture” (35). Specifically, Jones offers “a pathway that a reasonable person might take that would lead him or her to trust that the Bible is true” (37).
Criticizing the Bible and people who believe it has become good sport for some. But Christians shouldn’t respond to criticism with a dismissive eye-roll. Rather, we should meet it with an understanding of the difficulty of believing Scripture (36). We can outline the evidence that has persuaded us, while asking difficult questions in an honest, non-threatening manner. Jones humbly accepts the fact that some view the same evidence and have difficulty believing the Bible.
Trusting Eyewitness Testimony
Central to Jones’s path toward trusting the Bible is trusting the Gospels. The book could’ve been entitled Can I Trust the Gospels? If So, What Are the Implications of This Trust? (Thankfully, I didn’t title the book!)
The next step in this strategy is to show the Gospels were likely written by eyewitnesses. The Gospel writers mentioned names most common in Israel during this time, and referenced locations that would’ve only been known to individuals living in Galilee during the first century. And there’s little reason to suspect that the four Gospels—widely circulated as early as the early second century—were falsely attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.
The evidence most naturally indicates that the Gospels are eyewitness testimony.
Canon, Contradictions, and Controversies
My favorite aspect of this book is that Jones provides specific examples without becoming overly technical. Do you have a winsome answer to why certain books were excluded from the canon? Jones gives you simple, reliable answers that satisfy your curiosity without becoming lost in minutiae.
Do you have a question regarding the contradictions in the Scripture? Jones provides a framework for dealing with these inconsistencies that will guide a seeker down the right path.
Do you wrestle with Christians who defended slavery? Jones has, and he offers a defense of the Bible with a stinging rebuke of this wicked misapplication.
Do you have a working knowledge of the 1876 Kentucky meat shower? Jones cares more about the details of this bizarre day than your parents cared about anything you ever did. He’ll show you how this historical event can be useful in a conversation on the resurrection.
Jones concludes with a clear articulation of the gospel and this challenge to millennials who would say I follow Jesus, not the Bible: “It’s simply not possible to follow Jesus faithfully while believing the Bible selectively” (145).
Trusted for Truth
I recommend this resource for every pastor, Bible teacher, and church library, for it strikes a tone and tenor that will resonate with readers. Jones’s hope was to “simply provide you with enough evidence to whet your intellectual appetite fans to open a door for you to explore these issues further” (90). He succeeds.
I recommend this resource for every pastor, Bible teacher, and church library.
If your skeptical friend is in the top 1 percent of doubters worldwide, who requires a deep dive into the minutiae of every textual discrepancy, this book likely won’t convince them to trust the Bible. But if you or your friend falls in the 99 percent of us somewhere between “confident” and “questioning,” Timothy Paul Jones is an excellent guide on your quest to understand the reasons we can have confidence in God’s Word—based on both faith and fact.