Remarks on evidence and the authority of Scripture

When considering so called evidence of Scripture such as scientific, archaeological or prophetic evidences we must be careful in the way we interpret such. It is usual for some folk to consider the authority of the Canon of Scripture based on external evidences, when Scripture stands or falls in its own internal evidence. The authority of Scripture is given by Scripture itself, nothing else need determine this. The essence of this is the fact that 'by faith you are saved". Notwithstanding, Scripture itself notes that more than one witness is required to determine the truthfulness of a testimony, and this is fulfilled in the Holy Spirit who authenticates the authority of Scripture. For the non-Christian, that is, one without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, no amount of evidence will produce peace in terms of the authority of the canon – there will always be doubt. This arises because unless there is communium with the Holy Spirit no authentication can occur.

It is right and proper that scripture is used to determine the authenticity of evidence, whether scientific or otherwise, not the other way around. However, it is interesting for the enquiring mind to consider what man has discovered about his universe and world and compared it with Scripture. For the weak in faith it is also enlightening to find that the prophetic word has been borne out – cities that were deemed to fall by Scripture have indeed fallen, and nations deemed to rise and fall have also done so, and so on and so forth. It is important to note that, especially for history, the interpretation is always dynamic – history is interpreted in light of the culture, knowledge and prejudices of the time. Dating is always problematic and fills reams of paper, for instance those pertaining to Egyptian history. Hence, a reader of history must familiarise him- or her-self with as much of the literature as possible – old and new, from different cultures and epochs in time and make a judgement on the truthfulness or not of the narratives.

For a Christian, external evidences only highlight the nature of the word of God confirming its authenticity, its divine nature and usefulness for salvation.

David Simon
February 2006