One of the many bad arguments skeptics make against the reliability and authority of the Bible is that the authors were biased. The fact that they were Christians disqualifies them from reporting accurately the events they record. Is it true that we cannot grant credibility to the Gospels and other New Testament documents because the authors were biased? Do the NT author’s bias render their testimony unreliable?
The first reason we need not give this complaint any credence is this objection serves as a double-edged sword. Most evangelical Atheists regularly publish works attempting to promote their convictions as the truth. They are fully entrenched in their belief that God does not exist, and argue vigorously for this belief. Should we consider their arguments against theism and Christianity as being too tainted to be given credibility? This is absurd, we do not dismiss a claim, any claim, simply because we believe the one making the claim has a bias in favor of their message. Everyone making an argument has a bias in favor of their convictions. What needs to be evaluated is the claims themselves, not the motivation of the author.
What about the complaint that because the authors were already believers and so their testimony is now somehow unreliable? Is it true that the only way to get reliable information is to get it from someone who is entirely neutral? We can only trust testimony from people who do not already believe the conclusion? J. Warner Wallace from PleaseConvinceMe.com during Podcast 80: The Reliability of the Eyewitness accounts of the Gospels, offered the following analogy:
Let’s say I decide to rob a liquor store. In the liquor store are three customers who all witness the robbery. As I leave the liquor store, the witnesses get a good look at me and remember what I look like, my clothes, etc. The police arrive on scene and interview the witnesses. While this is happening I’m caught a ways down the road, and the detectives do what is called a “field show up” where I’m standing at the curb and the witnesses are driven by to get a look at me. In turn, each witness positively identifies me, “yep, that’s definitely him” they each say. Their statements are recorded and the case goes to court.
The jury looks at the case and says, “wait a minute, all three witnesses believe Jim did the robbery.” They continue, “we can’t trust those eyewitnesses, they’re all biased, they all already believe Jim did it. We want to hear from witnesses who saw it but aren’t biased, who don’t already believe Jim did the robbery.”
The people who saw the robbery saw who did it, they saw Jim commit the crime and now are witnesses who believe Jim did the robbery. It would be silly to say you cannot trust those witnesses because they are all biased. Is it reasonable to insist on trusting only the testimony of witnesses who saw what happened, who saw who did it, but do not hold a bias to who committed the crime?
Wallace points out what is important when it comes to the NT author’s bias. Were they biased by believing Jesus was who He said He was before they saw Jesus’ miracles, and saw Him alive after He was buried? Or did the bias arise after being witnesses to the events they recorded in the NT? What is important is not the bias, but the accurate recording of the events they claim they witness to. Bias is not enough to disqualify the events recorded in the NT, or any other document for that matter. It is the ideas someone puts forward and not their motivation for the ideas being offered which need to be engaged.