John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
A well-known pastor in Chicago conducted a survey by asking over 1,000 people why they don’t read the Bible. There were five reasons. Reason #1: “The Bible is just a bunch of stories. Noah’s Ark? Adam and Eve? And Superman and Cinderella too?” Reason #2: “The Bible is filled with contradictions. How can I take a book seriously that doesn’t even agree with itself?” Reason #3: “The Bible is outdated. I don’t respect people from 200 years ago; so what could I possibly learn from a book that was written more than 2,000 years ago?” Reason #4: “I believe that an individual’s faith is a very personal matter; it’s different for each person. You don’t get that from a book. It comes from deep within.” Reason #5: “The Bible is not scientific. It’s filled with all kinds of inaccuracies that are offensive to the modern intellectual. Only the most naïve and simplistic could ever take seriously a book written by a bunch of fishermen or whatever.”
So how does today’s Christian thrive outside of church, in school, at work, or in social settings, when they are surrounded by people who think the Bible is irrelevant? Meet one such person who seems to have no trouble sharing in her university classroom why she is confident the Bible is God’s Word. In December of 2016, Makay Bergthold wrote an essay in her college English class entitled “The Bible: Ridiculous or Reliable?” Here are some of her thoughts: “Many individuals believe that the Bible is an anachronous, archaic work of antiquity that is replete with contradictions and fabricated by the minds of mere men. Therefore, how, from the stance of pure reason and logic, is the Bible to be trusted as the infallible Word of God on which individuals are to stake their lives? Does the Bible possess the ability to survive the harshest intellectual scrutiny?” Hey, calm down girl. This is a higher place of learning, not Sunday School! Let’s not embarrass yourself. But she’s just getting warmed up. Could there be a train wreck coming? Let’s see.
“The Bible does, in fact, possess the ability to surpass all other ancient works of literature and can be shown to do so through historical tests of internal and external evidence: the modern science of archaeology, manuscript and historical tests, eye witness accounts, and fulfilled prophecy. Due to the tremendous amount of compelling evidence that confirms its reliability and historical accuracy, the Bible should be recognized as a document that, even though accepted as divinely inspired, is also an exceptionally valuable resource for historical data.” The Bible – historical? Didn’t the people surveyed in Chicago tell us it’s just a fairy tale book filled with inaccuracies? They would know… wouldn’t they?
She then goes through two pages of data on archaeological discoveries that validate events recorded in the Bible, from the discovery the capital of the Hittite empire in modern day Turkey to the discovery of the ancient city of Jericho and its walls being found as falling outward, both of which were ridiculed by skeptics as fairy tales. That is, until they were discovered. You don’t hear much ridiculing now.
She then turns to the manuscript evidence. For example, she explains that everything we are taught about Julius Caesar comes from only 7 manuscripts that are dated 1,000 years after the events happened. Her question to the class: do universities around America, who include such ancient writings in their curriculum, tell students how unreliable the information is? Then she compares this to the New Testament: 24,000 manuscripts with only a 50 year gap between the first written manuscript and the earliest copy. So why not include the New Testament as a source for Greco-Roman history, since it is much more reliable?
She concludes her essay with this: “Many individuals think the Bible is untrustworthy because there is no evidence to support that it is credible. However, when one seeks to discover the truth, they will find that it is quite the opposite, as a trove of evidence is ready to meet them.” I think Makay has scored some major points for the Bible’s reliability. So why such indifference today in America toward the Bible?
In his essay “What’s Wrong with the World”, English writer and philosopher G.K. Chesterton summed up why so many people view the Bible as irrelevant: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” We are surrounded by people who are unaware of the Bible’s ability to transform lives. It’s time, as Chesterton says, to investigate the Bible’s claims for yourself.
For the next three Sunday afternoons (January 14, 21 and 28), I will be speaking at Abundant Life Church here in Lees Summit at 4:30pm in the Core Auditorium on why apologetics is essential for any Christian in today’s American culture. This first week, we will dig into why we can completely trust our Bible as our guide for how we live our lives. Come join us!
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #278 – January 14, 2018