Warren Christian Apologetics Center
Affirm. Defend. Advance.
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James D. Bales


James David Bales (1915-1995) was born in Tacoma, Washington, the fifth of eight children. In 1930 he enrolled in the Georgia Military Academy (now Woodward Academy) in College Park, Georgia. He graduated from Harding College with a BA in 1937 and received a master’s degree at George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1938. Bales received his PhD in 1944 from the University of California at Berkeley. From 1944 to 1980, James David Bales was a professor of Bible and theology at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.
Both in public and in print, Bales earned a national reputation as a fearsome debater of theological issues and political ideologies, becoming especially well known for his anti-communism stance. Bales wrote and published more than seventy books and many more articles for religious periodicals. While Bales’ style was at times unabashedly confrontational, bold, aggressive, and often tinged with biting sarcasm when he felt he had the facts on his side, he was also committed to fair play and giving his opponent an honest hearing.
J. D. Bales served as moderator for Dr. Thomas B. Warren during his monumental 1976 debate on the existence of God with Dr. Antony G. N. Flew.

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Evidences Do Exist

The Old Testament and Jesus both foretold Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. He said: “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth my bread lifted up his heel against me. From henceforth I tell you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.” (John 13:18-19). Christ had just said: “If ye know these things blessed are ye if you do them.” (John 13:17). However, He knew that Judas’ “knowledge would not issue in the happiness of doing.” Christ knew those whom he had chosen; therefore, he knew the nature of Judas (John 6:70), and that he would lift up his heel against him (13:18). “There was no surprise to Christ in the faithlessness of Judas, though there was to others.” Christ now told his apostles that one of this inner circle of disciples would oppose him. He told them about it, before it came to pass, that when it came to pass they would have additional evidence of his foreknowledge and reliability. He did this “in order that what might have seemed to be a fatal miscarriage, should be shown to have been within the range of the Master’s foresight. Thus the disciples would be enabled to trust in him absolutely. His knowledge was not only of the main fact but of the details.” (Westcott)

This makes it clear that our Lord himself teaches the value of prophecy and its fulfillment as an evidence of the truthfulness of his claims. Christ states clearly that the fulfillment of prophecy is one of his credentials. It may be objected that it is evidence only to those who already believe. The apostles already believed in Christ, and the fulfillment of prophecy would strengthen their faith. However, it could have no power in leading people to have who do not yet have faith. To this type of objector we reply: First, is there any reason at all, is there any evidence at all, which justifies an unbeliever in believing in Jesus Christ? If one, one cannot obey the admonition of Peter to “sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15). Second, if they cannot give to an unbeliever any reason why he should believe in Christ? Just why should an unbeliever believe? To say that there are no reasons for faith, no evidence which can be presented, is to say there is no reason why an unbeliever should become a believer. Third, our Lord showed that the evidence from prophecy should be presented to those who do not believe on him. Although man cannot be forced to accept the witness of the Old Testament Scriptures to Jesus, the evidence is there and furnishes a reason for faith in Christ. To unbelieving Jews he said that the Scriptures “bear witness of me,” and that the difficulty was not in the lack of evidence, but in the lack of receptivity to the evidence. “And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life.” (John 5: 40). If they had willed to do God’s will they would have come to faith in Christ. (John 7:77) He pointed out some of the reasons for their unbelief (John 5:40-44), and said that Moses wrote of him, and would accuse them for not believing on Jesus as the fulfillment of Moses’ predictions concerning the Messiah. (John 5:45-47). Furthermore, when Christ sent the apostles to convict people of the sin of unbelief in rejecting Jesus (John 16:8-9), one of the lines of evidence which the apostles presented to unbelieving Israel was the evidence from prophecy. (Acts 2:25-28, 30-36). When Paul went into the synagogues, he “reasoned with them from the scriptures, opening and alleging that it behoved the Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom, said he, I proclaim unto you, is the Christ.” (Acts 17:2-3)

The individual who claims that Christ has no credentials, and that there is no appeal to evidence and to reason in the Scriptures, does not understand the Scriptures. He undermines the foundations of faith in Christ, whether he realizes it or not, in that he maintains that faith really has no foundations. Although faith goes beyond what is seen, although it goes beyond evidence and reason, the New Testament does furnish evidences which justify our believing in Christ.

In this brief article we have not tried to enlarge on the evidence from prophecy, nor to mention other evidences, but to stress that our Lord teaches that there are evidences which justify our believing in him.

James D. Bales
(Gospel Advocate, March 13, 1969, p. 172)