What Do We Mean When We Say the Bible is ‘Self-Authenticating’?

Michael J. Kruger

Posted on

July 27, 2015

Even though most Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, very few can give an articulate answer for how Christians know this to be true.  We believe it, but we are not sure why we believe it.

Of course, the average non-Christian critic out there is quick to pounce on this problem. “Christians have no reliable basis for knowing whether the Bible is God’s Word,” they might say.  “You Christians can believe it if you want to, but you have no grounds for believing it.  You are believing it without a reason.”

In order to address precisely this issue, I gave a lecture this past Spring at The Gospel Coalition National Conference entitled, “How Do We Know the Bible is God’s Word: Recovering the Doctrine of a Self-Authenticating Scripture.”

This lecture was designed to explain one way (and, arguably, the primary way) that believers know that the Bible is God’s Word, namely from the attributes and characteristics present in the Bible itself.  Put simply, I argue (along with many others throughout church history) that the Bible bears evidence within itself of its own divine origins.

This is what we mean when we say that the Bible is self-authenticating.

Such a claim raises a number of questions in people’s minds: What exactly are these attributes present in Scripture?  If they are really there, then why don’t more people acknowledge them?  Isn’t this sort of claim just a form of subjectivism?  And, has anyone else in church history taken this approach?

If you share these questions, then I encourage you to download my TGC lecture here. Update: And here is the handout: TGC Self Authenticating Handout.

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