How to Respond to the Claim "The Bible Was Written by Men"

I really enjoy listening to Pastor Emilio Ramos through his online ministry RedGrace Media. His sermons, podcasts, and open-air preaching are all very edifying. 

In one of his open-air sermons at the University of North Texas, a student challenged him with a peculiar, but ever so common charge. 

While preaching about the authority of Scripture, a student attempted to refute him by shouting something to the tune of, “But the Bible was written by men!”

I found this so interesting because I have heard this many times in my interactions with people as well. 

I want to provide the three answers I give when someone makes this claim, and hopefully my humble readers will find them worthy of utilizing.

1) I Know
 

When confronted with this enthusiastic challenge, Emilio responded in good humor, “I know, that is what the Bible says!”

Turn your attention to the apostle Peter for a moment, 

2nd Peter 1: 19-21,

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention to…knowing first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The emphasis is mine. I emphasized what I did to make the point that Peter readily admits that Old Testament prophecy was the speech of men. Men, human men, spoke these prophecies. Humans wrote these oral traditions down. The Bible has human origins. 

The Bible did not float down out of heaven like manna in the wilderness. Christians have never claimed it did. The Bible is a collection of Books with human authors, many of them, in fact.

This can be further demonstrated by nearly every epistle in the New Testament, most of which have their authors identifying themselves. 

This first answer is funny, and it is meant to be just that. Your opponent will not be stumped by it. It also meant to force our opponents to clarify their language and say the positive apologetic claim that they are intending to make. 

This answer needs to be said to help the other side understand our position, but it is not getting at the true thrust and implications of the charge, which brings us to the next two answers. 

The next two responses address both presuppositional implications of the argument. If you are the type easily aggravated by ten syllable fragments, do not sign out yet. What I mean is this: There are two assumptions providing the foundation which the claim is standing on. What I am basically saying is that we need to answer what is actually being said.

The two assumptions, the two presuppositions are:

I) The Bible was written by only men.II) Something written by men is fallible, and therefore, an unreliable authority.

2) The Bible Has A Divine Element


The primary argument that needs to be made is that the Bible has two natures so to speak. It has both a divine and human element. Look again at what Peter says in the verses cited above, 

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention to…knowing first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

I emphasized the other aspects of the verse, and in so doing, putting on display that the very verse which indicates a human element to prophecy, also says that there is a divine. Scripture is the writings of men. We see their names, their personalities, their desires, their struggles, and many other aspects of them in these writings throughout the Scripture. But these books do not find their ultimate origin in the wills of these men. They are found in God, and the Holy Spirit moved in these men to produce His book. Thus, the Bible has many authors, but it’s ultimate author is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved on men to write; He providentially used the tools of human personalities and skills to reveal God to us.

2nd Timothy 3: 15-17, 

All Scripture is breathed-out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The Scriptures, which men wrote, are said to be the very breath of God. The Spirit used these men so accurately, and was so intimately acquainted with them, that the words men wrote are said to be the Holy Spirit’s very words.

Thus, the way Christians respond to the first premise is by denying it. We proclaim that the Bible is both a human and divine document, and that it self-attests to this as well. 

Here are three important questions that you need to memorize and return to your opponent:

Why do you assume the theological position that God did not inspire the Biblical authors?

Why do you assume the theological position that God is unable to use fallible men to produce an infallible book? Where do you get that theological view of God’s power from?

How could you possibly prove the claim that the Bible has no divine element?

Those questions cut straight to the heart of the presuppositions of your challenger. 

3) You’re a Human Too


Notice the second assumption, that if something stems from an exclusively human origin, it cannot be infallibly trusted. 

We as Christians agree with this point, but that is not the issue. Exposing the epistemic inconsistency of a false worldview is the issue. Paul says our job is to “destroy stronghold” and to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to Christ” (2 Cor. 10: 5).

Thus, notice the self-refutation of the claim which is against the knowledge God, that the Bible cannot be trusted because it is written by humans. That very claim itself finds its origin in humans! 

The skeptic refuses to accept the Bible as being more authoritative than his own mind due to the fact that the Bible is the product of human minds. 

Everything the skeptic believes is the product of his own human mind. Therefore, everything he believes should be rejected with the same distrust and skeptical attitude as any Bible verse preached to him. 

The problem is that very idea would also need to be doubted. 

This leaves the skeptic in a self-refuting pot, being boiled alive by biblical wisdom.

The two important questions to ask here are:

All of your own opinions stem from your human mind, why are you not as skeptical about your own thoughts as you are about the Bible?

If the Bible cannot be trusted due to its human element, why do you trust that very claim, which is purely human in origin?

Summary:


When the authority of the Scriptures is challenged by a non-believer saying they were written by men, you respond by:

I) Telling them the Bible already told you that.

II) Telling them those humans were inspired by the Holy Spirit when writing

You can then destroy their strongholds by asking them:

I) How do you know God was not involved in inscripturation? 

II) Where does your theology of God come from which determines He could not or would not use humans to inspire Scripture?

III) If human works are not to be trusted as ultimate authorities, why do you trust your own human thoughts as being your own ultimate authority?

Never let them off the hook Saints. Earnestly contend for the once-for-all-delivered faith!

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