The Reliability of the New Testament

We have just entered into the New Testament section of our Year of Biblical Literacy readings.

The following are links to three educational videos on New Testament reliability:

Session 1       Session 2       Session 3

I hope you’ll find these videos useful as they concern the New Testament. I think these are important in light of current challenges to the history and reliability of the New Testament. Recently, even within the church, there has been a call to rethink our approach as to how we use the New Testament. There have been voices such as those of Andy Stanley in his book “Irresistible”, that speak about how we should understand the foundation of our Christian faith. Andy Stanley says:

“We don’t believe because of a book; we believe because of the event that inspired the book.” (p. 294)

In my reading of “Irresistible”, I did not find a discussion of the implications of that statement. It is true that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ because Jesus lived a perfectly obedient life in our place, died on a Roman cross and rose from the dead and that those who trust in Him have eternal life.

However, we do not live in the world of the 1st century. We cannot go to those who witnessed “the event” and ask them, face-to-face, about what they saw and heard. But we, in the early 21st century, have to go to their written accounts, found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to know about these events. These gospels act for us in the role of a court deposition given by a witness describing his/her account of events which they saw and heard. The gospel of John is clear that about these events, they were “written so that you may believe the Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life,” (John 20:31 ESV)

What is missed in “Irresistible” is that while we believe because of “the event”, we must know that the account of the “event”, written for us in the book, the New Testament, is reliable and historically-sound. These must not be artificially separated. For us, today, they are organically linked. Support one and the other is supported. Destroy one and the other is destroyed. This means that the reliability of the event could be successfully challenged if the recorded accounts found in the New Testament could be successfully challenged.

The apostle Peter wrote: “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV). I’m convinced that Christ followers today must be given the tools to defend the reliability of the book (specifically, in this context, the New Testament text) to defend the reliability and truth of the events of which it speaks.

To that end, the following links are included. They link to three lectures given by Michael J. Kruger. Dr. Kruger is the President and the Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. The content of these videos provides valuable lessons in defending the reliability of the New Testament text and, as a result, preserve the reliability of the accounts of which it speaks..

Session 1      Session 2     Session 3