by Bill Nugent
If you are a defense attorney involved in a trial and you cross examine a hostile witness and get that witness to say something that proves the innocence of the defendant this is known as“witness of the opposition.” Everyone expects a defense witness to support your case but when a prosecution witness — an opposing witness — makes a statement that supports your case it is highly persuasive.
In a similar way, this phenomenon of “witness of the opposition” has served to prove the truthfulness and divine inspiration of the Bible. Over the past two centuries many wealthy and influential people have deliberately set out to try to disprove the accuracy of events recorded in the Bible. Not only have they failed to undermine the Bible but their archaeological and historical research findings have served to prove the Bible’s historicity and reliability.
A case in point is Scottish archaeologist Sir William Ramsay (1851-1939), an atheist whose parents were also atheists. He was definitely a hostile witness. Ramsay was wealthy and held a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford. When he set out to try to disprove the Bible he focused on the New Testament book of Acts which records the travels and evangelism of the Apostles.
He regarded the book of Acts as the most vulnerable book of the Bible because of its frequent specific mention of places, people and things. Ramsay thought he could expose Acts as mere myth.
Ramsay set out, funded by his immense wealth, and did extensive excavations and research over a period of 25 years. He wrote several books over this time and as each book came out it was more and more favorable to the book of Acts. Finally in one of his later books he declared that he believed Acts to be divinely inspired and that he had become a Christian! (Why I Believe by D. James Kennedy p. 33).
Another famous example is Lewis Wallace (1827-1905), Union general during the American Civil War and later ambassador to Turkey. Wallace set out to try to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His research led him not only to accept the biblical account of the resurrection of Christ but also to write a novel set in the time of Christ. His novel is titled Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christwhich was later made into a major Hollywood motion picture.
Even Constantin Francois Volney, who wrote the infamous anti-Christian book entitled Ruins (published in Paris in 1791), did research that confirmed the fulfillment of certain Bible prophecies. Abraham Lincoln was given a copy of Ruins in his youth and it caused him to turn against Christianity for a time. Lincoln returned to faith in Christ in the later years of his life.
It should be pointed out by way of contrast that the book of Mormon, a book that Mormons claim is inspired, records many place names but these places are not confirmed by archaeology.
Psalm 76:10 says “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.”How amusingly ironic it is that people who reject the Bible and try to prove it wrong unwittingly become powerful witnesses to its truth. The fact that the Bible is painstakingly accurate in its record of history is just one of many reasons to trust it to be what it claims to be: God’s inspired word to humanity.