Advancing to the other reason for the Bible's divine authority, Geisler said there's one sure way to determine whether a prophet is truly a spokesman for God or a charlatan trying to deceive the masses: can he produce clear-cut miracles? All three great monotheistic religions-Christianity, Judaism, and Islam-recognize the validity of miracles as a means of confirming a message from God. Even famed skeptic Bertrand Russell conceded that miracles would authenticate a truth claim."
"In the Bible-which, remember, we've seen is historically reliable-we have prophets who were challenged but who then performed miracles to establish their credentials," Geisler said.
"For example, Moses said in Exodus 4:1, 'What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The Lord did not appear to you?' How does God respond? By telling Moses to throw his staff to the ground; instantly, it turned into a snake. He told Moses to pick it up by its tail; it turned back into a staff. Then God said in verse 5, 'This is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-has appeared to you.'
"The same thing for Elijah on Mount Carmel-he was challenged and God sent down fire from heaven to confirm he was a true prophet. As for Jesus, he actually came out and said, 'Don't believe me unless I do miracles of God .130 And then he did them. Even Nicodemus conceded this when he said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.'3i
'This never happened to Muhammad. In fact, Muhammad actually believed Jesus was a prophet who performed miracles, including raising the dead. Muslims also believe Moses and Elijah performed miracles. That's very interesting, because in the Koran when unbelievers challenged Muhammad to perform a miracle, he refused. He merely said they should read a chapter in the Koran."3i
"He did?" I interjected.
"Absolutely. And yet Muhammad himself said, 'God hath certainly power to send down a sign."33 He even said, 'They [will] say: 'Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord ?'34 Unlike Jesus, miracles were not a sign of Muhammad's ministry. It wasn't until a hundred and fifty or two hundred years after his life that his followers invented miracles and ascribed them to him.
"But when John the Baptist raised the question of whether Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus was able to respond confidently to John's disciples: 'Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."'35
Geisler stopped for a moment while I considered what he was saying. Then he summed up his arguments: "When you add this up-the historical reliability of the Bible as authenticated by archaeology, the miraculous fulfillment of clear predictive prophecies, and the performance of documented miracles-you get a supernaturally confirmed book unlike any other in history"
I wanted to clarify something. "What you're not saying is, 'I believe the Bible is divinely inspired because it says it is."
"That's right. That's a circular argument. No, the argument goes like this: the Bible claims to be the Word of God and the Bible proves to be the Word of God."
That would seem to be a pretty good case-if the Bible didn't have so many apparent contradictions within it. But how can the Bible really be trustworthy if it can't keep its own story straight? How can it be considered divinely inspired if it makes statements that simply cannot be reconciled with each other?
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