But it is circular reasoning! Some might complain.
The problem that became mine was that it seemed to be circular reasoning. If the testimony of God is based upon the Bible and the Bible is written by men it falls apart. It is still humans writing a thing about God.
The immediate answer among Christians to this is to go a step further declaring that as the Bible is the inspired word of God; the words are not men’s, but God’s. It still falls apart. Why? The book is saying God exists and the book says that God inspired it. So, it all comes down to what the book says. Many will call it God, but intellectually I could not pose such an argument to a non-Christian friend.
Think about the religious among you. Does not the Catholic think God’s testimony is sacrosanct? What about the Protestant? Or, go further afield and ask the same thing of the Mormon’s: Moroni, Joseph Smith, and their gold plates. Where is the gold standard in all of these? Is it a book? Something the religious culture has told them and they believe? Or more?
We need to look above the plane of specific religious adherents so that we may conclude a little bit differently. God’s reality is not merely Biblical revelation. Most of the people who have lived had no Bible. Gutenberg did not invent his printing press until the mid-15th century. The King James Version Bible, that first of the Western World did not flow from the pens of the said king until early in the 17th century. A sense of deity in the world’s cultures did not evolve with those texts but was the norm. People do not believe in God’s existence because the Bible told them so. It is much more intrinsic.
The conclusion I have drawn is that God testifies, tailors that is, to each person lessons about himself that are perfectly attuned to their mind-shape. God draws each person with tailored testimony. He approaches them from square one beckoning them to square two. Having the keenest of interests in each person he comes with fitting instruction. Much as knew what Cain needed to hear and what Stephen Hawking needed to hear he knows what you and I need to hear. The testimony fits like a lock and key opening needful ahas.
That is the greater testimony that John is speaking of. When it is combined with the words of the apostles and prophets it can take on more flesh and bones.