How can you know who is telling the truth? “First, choose the news media who tell you what you want to hear.” Most people choose the side they want and they assert that it is the truth. They do not think or care that they are complying with libel and slander. Furthermore, some struggle to choose any view as they sift through numerous views and scenarios as possibly true. People who honestly seek the truth have an ancient method for testing and finding the truth.
Some assert, “Science is the truth. Full stop. Nothing more to say.” However, accepting the headline that “Experts say…” does not affirm anything that experts observe about the evidence. Furthermore, scientists often do not have direct access to the objects of their study. Their observations and inferences also coincide and build on their learning from reports of research of things that others have claimed. When scientists rely on reports, they are relying on past reports as historical documents by which they accept certain claims as the basis for further study and research. The public commonly accepts the idea that science is a purely objective field. However, many scientists trust claims from reports in certain journals as they accept the reliability by what their peers accept. The scientist has no better grounds to trust the historicity of scientific claims than historians do for trusting ancient historical sources. Like attorneys, all need to cross-examine testimonies. Facts are known by testing and examining sources.
Ancient Israelites and later followers of Jesus had biblical tactics to filter through claims, keep the facts, and remove assertions and opinions. The standard of evidence throughout time has been the acceptance of two or three witnesses as is the minimum and sufficient foundation of proof (Deuteronomy 19:15). From Israel’s ancient republic to the Roman corpus of Law, ancient people knew how to weigh evidence even better than people today who make claims that contradict and ignore facts to suit their wants. In recent history, English common law has passed this standard forward with the application for law today, as it is present in section 3 of article 3 in the U.S. Constitution. Ancient Israel and early Christians had a way to discover if sources were presenting the truth by cross-examining them (Deuteronomy 13:14; 17:4; 19:16–21). These witnesses included primary sources such as eyewitnesses, records from witnesses, and trace evidence (Exodus 22:9–15; Deuteronomy 19; 22:13–21; 31:26; Joshua 4:22).
Followers of Jesus started and stood by coming to trust Jesus of Nazareth and so hold to His teachings (John 7:17). Jesus taught that the testimony of two witnesses is true and He passed that same test (John 5:30–47; 8:17–18; Acts 1:3). The first Christians had a way to identify Godless claims and warn others about the underlying agendas. The earliest Christian leaders taught believers to test everything, hold fast to the good, and abstain from evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21). The apostle John commanded believers to test for false teachers (1 John 4:1–6). Even in Christian assemblies, the faithful were to test and weigh what they heard (1 Corinthians 14:29). They did this according to a standard of evidence as stated, “Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1b ESV).
The idea that eyewitnesses are not reliable for acquiring facts is self-defeating. The individual who asserts that people cannot know what is true by witnesses and reports does so by acting as a witness of one’s own experience with or without anyone to attest and authenticate that claim. No report can withstand the self-defeat of asserting that reports are not reliable. No witness can withstand the assertion that witnesses are unreliable.
Today, Christians have the same method to examine claims. They have a standard to test and attest to the authenticity of the faith. The faithful stand by evidence having cross-examined and now defending the Gospel witnesses for Jesus of Nazareth as “the Son of God.” Furthermore, Christians also have this standard to resist complying with slander and gossip in the community, in the news media, and within the church (Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19). The faithful stand on primary sources rather than on the secular practice of relying on stacked claims from secular “expert” sources supported by their peers.
Thank God that He gave humanity a way to test all things and hold to that which is good! “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverb 1:7).