Should Apologists Quote the Bible When Trying to Prove it?


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There’s a common objection apologists hear from skeptics: “You can’t quote the Bible to prove the Bible.” 


The answer to that? Yes and no.

Sometimes people try to prove the Bible is true by using what the Bible says concerning itself. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for example, says that all Scripture is breathed out by God. This is a useful verse for theological purposes, but we would spin into circular reasoning if we tried to use it as proof for the Bible’s authority. 

However, there is a right way to quote the Bible in order to make a case for it. It is the process used by apologists called internal evidence.


Should Apologists Quote the Bible

Internal evidence continues to vet the Bible’s historical reliability.


Imagine that you are in a courtroom, listening to an eyewitness provide testimony. The jury must determine if the man’s story is true, based (in part) on what he says. To help the jury reach a verdict, the lawyers on the case ask questions about his story, in search of internal evidence: Does the story contradict itself? Does the story contradict other stories? Does the story omit difficult details? Does the story mention people and places that can be verified? The man’s testimony is then compared to testimony provided by others, to ferret out the truth.

The same methodology can be applied to the Bible, particularly with the stories of Jesus provided in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These disciples were very careful to include details in their narratives that could be verified by people alive at the time the disciples were teaching.

Not even the Jewish leaders responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion rejected their teaching that Jesus died on the cross, or that He was buried in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers. Nor could the leaders produce His body, to stall the disciple’s claims that Jesus resurrected, when Jesus was reported to be seen over the next 40 days in His resurrected form.


Apologists Use Internal Evidence to Prove the Bible Reliable

Internal evidence assumes that any document is considered innocent until errors prove it unreliable. A bread recipe is trustworthy when it produces a delicious loaf of bread. An apology letter is sincere, until the apologizer repeats the offense. Similarly, the Bible’s historical details continue to be confirmed as legit.

Listen to Josh explain the process of internal evidence in these two short videos titled “Internal Evidence Test” and “Innocent Until Proven Unreliable.”

To place the Bible under scrutiny, we have to know what it says. You can get up to speed on how the Bible has proven its reliability by reviewing our blog series based on Josh’s apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict.

In order to speak with authority and power, we have to know what we’re talking about. For more reasons to confidently believe in the claims of the Bible, God, and Christianity, check out two reliable books by Josh and Sean McDowell: 77 FAQs about God and the Bible and Evidence That Demands a Verdict.


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Matthew Tingblad is a communicator at Josh McDowell Ministry with a seminary education from Talbot School of Theology.

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