On March 25-28, 1991 Mac Deaver debated the skeptic, Ferrel Till, on the campus of what is now Texas State University in San Marcos. Propositions centered on alleged moral atrocities in the Bible, whether they are real, and whether they disprove the Bible’s inspiration. The transcription has recently been reprinted by Christian Researcher Publications as a paperback book, including the four nights of speeches and charts. Copies can be ordered here.
By Roy C. Deaver
The great general area of study called “Christian Apologetics” deals with evidences (or proofs) related to (1) the existence of God, (2) the deity of Jesus Christ, (3) the inspiration of the Bible. With regard to “evidences of inspiration” there are (1) evidences external, and (2) evidences internal. One of the most powerfully convincing internal evidences is the marvelous unity of the Bible.
Unity in Theme and Purpose
The Bible is a wonderful unit in theme and in purpose. By “theme” we mean the Bible’s basic message. By “purpose” we mean the reason for and the consequent blessings of that message.
It has been accurately observed and properly stressed that the “theme” of the Bible is: The coming of Christ. The Old Testament message is: The Christ is coming. The New Testament message is: The Christ has come and will come again. In statement, type, shadow, copy, and figure the Old Testament presents this message. In plain declaration, in anti-type, in substance, in original, and in the real— the New Testament presents this message. All is involved in the Christ— his gospel, his church, his blessings to men.
But, what about the “purpose” of the Bible? (1) The Bible relates to the need for human redemption. The first three chapters of Genesis explain how sin made its entrance into the world. Human beings are born into a world where sin is. (2) Accountable persons, in transgressing God’s law, thereby become sinners. The tragic fact is that all accountable persons do transgress God’s law and do become sinners. Cf. Romans 3:23; I John 1:8. (3) Redemption is in and through Jesus Christ, Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14. (4) As previously indicated, the Old Testament points to Christ. “And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:27. The Old Testament Scriptures bore witness of Christ, John 5:39. Paul persuaded “them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning till evening,” Acts 28:23. (5) Human redemption glorifies God. “Sonship” through Christ is “to the praise of the glory of his (God’s) grace,” Ephesians 1:6. “Unto him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever, ” Ephesians 3:21. “To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ…be the glory forever,” Romans 16:27.
It is based upon consideration of these five basic facts that we summarize the purpose of the Bible as follows: THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE SALVATION OF MAN, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. This is the purpose line which runs all the way through the Bible— from Genesis 1:l through the last verse of the Revelation. Every word in every verse in every paragraph of every chapter of every book sustains a vital relationship to this purpose line.
Unity in Books
The Bible is one book, but it is made up of many books. It has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. It is one in theme; it is one in purpose.
Every book of the Bible has a unique message of its own. Every book of the Bible makes a unique contribution to the overall purpose of the Bible. Every book of the Bible does something (with regard to the purpose line) which no other book does. And, it is from this viewpoint that we declare that every book of the Bible is the greatest book of the Bible. Each book does something which no other book does. It is my job as a student to learn the basic message of each book— to learn the unique contribution which each book makes to the overall purpose.
Think of the book of Genesis. An appropriate title would be: The Book of Beginnings. Its purpose is, to set forth the beginning and early development of the scheme of redemption. It divides itself into five natural sections: (1) from the creation to Abraham, (2) the life of Abraham, (3) the life of Isaac, (4) the life of Jacob, and (5) the life of Joseph. But all as involved in the beginning and early development of the scheme of redemption.
Ephesians is: The Church of our Lord— God’s Plan for Man’s Salvation. Chapters one through three deal with the nature of the church; chapters four through six deal with the Christian’s life in that church.
The book of Hebrews is: The Way of Christ— The Better Way. Paul emphasizes: (1) Christians have the better medium, 1:l-4:13; (2) Christians have the better high priest, 4:14-10:18; (3) Christians have the better way, the way of faith, 10:19-13:25.
Whatever the book, it is a marvelous unit, it has a unique message, and it makes a unique contribution to the purpose of the Bible.
Unity in Presentation
If one begins reading in Genesis one and continues through the Bible, he is reading the gradual unfolding of God’s wonderful message of redemption. It is one beautiful connected story. In the Old Testament the story is told consecutively from Genesis through Nehemiah (Esther should be read at the end of Ezra 6). The books of Job through Malachi give additional details that are involved in the connected story. In Old Testament history “God Prepared the Perfect Plan.” In the New Testament history “God Presented this Plan to Man.”
This beautiful, amazing story of redemption is presented in wonderful consistency. There are no contradictions in the sacred message. Men have often referred to apparent contradictions, but thorough investigation never fails to remove the difficulty. “Contradictions” are often imagined where there are none.
From first till last the Bible was written by approximately forty writers, and over a period of sixteen hundred years. It was begun by Moses in the desert of Arabia, and was completed by John on the isle of Patmos. The writers generally were not conscious of the works of others. They were widely separated in geography and in chronology. They were fishermen, farmers, shepherds, soldiers and kings. They wrote in palaces, pastures, prisons and in tents. There were men who were highly educated, and there were men untutored and unlearned (so far as concerned formal education of the day). These were not a literary people. Yet, when these writings are all brought together in one sacred volume, there is perfect unity— there are no contradictions.
If a forty-piece orchestra should suddenly begin to play— in perfect timing, melody, and harmony— it would be evidence of direction by a single mind.
If forty archers, in forty different places, widely separated in time, should shoot their arrows and all hit the same target “dead-center” it would be evidence of (proof of) direction by a single mind.
If forty men— widely separated in geography, with varied backgrounds, and living over a period of sixteen hundred years— should each write down a few lines, and these lines when brought together constituted a beautiful poem, it would be evidence of direction by a single mind.
Because of its marvelous and otherwise inexplicable unity, we believe the Bible came from God— that it is miraculously inspired and is divine authority.