This is the weekly Q & A blog post by our Research Professor in Philosophy, Dr. William Lane Craig.
Hello Dr. Craig,
I appreciate your work and am going through the Defender podcasts I enjoyed your interview with Erik Thoennes of Grace Evangelical Free in January 2019. In that interview you said "We believe in the Bible because we believe in Christ. We do not believe in Christ because we believe in the Bible". Can you explain what you meant by that statement?
Dr. William Lane Craig's Response
Sure! What I’m expressing in a pithy way by this aphorism (which is not original to me!) is that in order to rationally believe in Christ as Savior and Lord, you need not embrace biblical inspiration or inerrancy. So long as the New Testament documents are sufficiently reliable to establish the historicity of Jesus’ radical personal claims and the historicity of his crucifixion, burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection, then you are warranted by the evidence in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and so was who he claimed to be. That suffices for a Christian commitment.
Even taken as ordinary, fallible human records, the New Testament documents have been shown to be reliable with respect to these facts. Too many Christians naively think that unless you presuppose biblical inspiration and inerrancy, the historicity of the life of Jesus goes down the drain. This attitude, far from showing confidence in the Bible, actually betrays a profound lack of confidence in its historical credibility. Without the theological assumptions of inspiration and inerrancy to hold it up, the Bible is implicitly taken to be untrustworthy on this view.
But once one becomes a Christian, then one submits to the teaching of the Lord Jesus. When we see how Jesus regarded the Old Testament, we perceive that he taught it to be the inspired and wholly reliable Word of God. So as his disciples, we should, too. We believe in the Bible because we believe in him.
This Q&A and other resources are available on Dr. William Lane Craig's website.