Is the Bible truthful, reliable, and trustworthy?
That’s a loaded question, but one worth attempting to answer (I will not answer it in this post). Last night, Ruth and I hosted a group of teenagers in our apartment. I had them write questions down they had about the Christian faith. In some form or another, the number one question asked was the one above. God saw this coming. For some reason last year, I felt I needed to continue school and pursue an M.Div. I needed more education in the areas of systematic theology and apologetics. I am glad God led me down that path. The indirect liberal answers to tough questions about the Bible were not satisfactory. I had been well schooled in practical ministry, but undereducated theologically. God has been challenging me to better articulate how the Christian worldview stands up in the marketplace of ideas. In the church planting journey, I have been on, I am thankful for God’s providence.
Over the last year, I have done my own exploration of the topic question. I have pushed back hard. The extremes of Bible worship and Bible irrelevancy both have many unanswered questions.
Bible worship: unabashed allegiance to the Bible as inerrant without any critical thought or scrutiny.
Bible irrelevancy: dismissal of the Bible because of conflict with science, pragmatism, or various Christian interpretations.
Maybe you have heard the saying, “You can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Bible worship holds onto the baby, the bathtub, and the dirty water. Bible irrelevancy gets rid of both. It is blind adherence versus total subjectivity.
Within these bounds, we find many different perspectives all attempting to provide a viable solution to the “problems” we find in the Bible. Is the Bible even beneficial and necessary? Or, is it hurtful?
The popular speaker and blogger Rob Bell has written, “In the beginning, someone wrote something down.” Rather, than specifically engage Bell, here is a website which may allow you to listen to review for yourself other views.
I would like to exhort Christians and pastors to do some research. Be informed. Provide good and substantive answers that address the real concerns skeptics, seekers, and even teenagers in your church have about the faith. Be honest about what you know and do not know.
I would like to also exhort young people (including myself) to seek out good answers, rather than “like” the most popular view of the Bible. Just because the answers are not always easy to find does not mean good answers are not out there. Also, just because someone promotes the traditional or classic view does not mean it is irrelevant.
The Bible itself it honest about the concern of the Scriptures; questioning the legitimacy of the Bible is nothing new. Mark Clark in The Problem of God cites Luke 24 as an example:
In Luke 24, Jesus approaches a cluster of his own disciples shortly after his resurrection from the dead. They saw him brutally killed and don’t yet know he is alive again. They are feeling defeated, and in response to their mourning, Jesus delivers some unexpected words: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). When Jesus speaks of “the prophets,” this was a Jewish way of speaking generally about the Bible.
In other words, the disciples of Jesus were the first skeptics of the Bible as it related to Christianity.
Christianity is unique. Christianity is rooted in history and is corroborated by science and philosophy, Christians have at their disposal ample evidence for its truthfulness. The Bible is the primary witness to the nature and character of the Christian God because it is God’s revelation of Himself. The Bible guides and shapes the Christian worldview.
Jesus showed these skeptical disciples evidence to prove they could trust the Bible (Luke 24:26–27). The disciples were faced with the evidence.
Skeptic, are you willing to do that if the Bible can be shown to be trustworthy and reliable by the standards of historical research? Are you willing to consider that the Bible might be true and allow it to change your life, as it has millions of people throughout history?
Pastor, are you willing to do research and provide substantive answers for your congregation? Are you willing to engage the underlying skeptical questions of your congregation?
Christian, are you willing to learn how to ask good questions and engage your neighbor with love?
We cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore and talk past each other. Let us converse well for the betterment of our world.