A Book Of Faith?

Is the Bible just a Book of faith? In my previous article “No More Blind Faith”, I began to examine why some Christians are resistant to hearing or accepting evidence for Christianity. I explained a curious reaction I get from other Christians when discussing archeology that would support the accuracy of the Bible.  We’ve looked at some different aspects of this phenomenon in the past. But in this article I’ll be touching on what may truly be at the heart of the resistance.

Up For Debate

A few years ago I attended a debate. The debate was between Reasons to Believe creation scientist Fazale Rana and atheist philosopher Michael Ruse.  Ruse is one of my favorite atheists. He is fair in his arguments, has an appealing personality, and will engage with his opponents in an even-handed way.  He’s also not afraid to address weaknesses in his own arguments.  Fazale (or Fuzz for short) Rana did a great job defending the Christian world view that night.  It was an enjoyable evening.  The odd part came in the Q&A session after the formal debate.  

Fuzz Rana
Michael Ruse

Much to my surprise, the majority of the pushback given to Fuzz came not from the atheists in the audience. The Christians in the audience were the ones that he had upset.  What were these Christians so upset about?  They were mad that Fuzz didn’t share their particular version of creationism.  “What you’re doing is a disgrace!  You aren’t taking the Bible seriously!” was one of the comments that sticks out in my memory.  

What’s At Stake?

That evening was a learning experience for me.  I try to keep it in mind when my views on the reliability of scripture differ from those I am speaking with.  If I’m completely honest, I’m not always successful at keeping these interactions as peaceful as I would like.  Passions can run high when important ideas are at stake. There is no issue of greater importance than what might or might not qualify someone for eternal life.

I think the exchange that night gets at the heart of why some Christians can get threatened by evidence.  There are differing schools of thought on what the Bible actually is.  Is it the inerrant Word of God? Or is it just a book of faith, and we can take or leave what we like? These two views are at odds with one another, and the battle is spilling out into the culture.  Churches are scrambling to try and figure out if the Bible can be reconciled with the new moral landscape that is before us. Some denominations have sided with the idea of a Bible that is changeable in its teaching on morality. And I think these are the people who are threatened most by the idea that the Bible is historical.  

Whose In Charge Here?

You see, if the Bible turns out to be historically accurate, that means something. It means the writers of the Bible are going out of their way to get details and facts correct. Suppose the Bible started out with the words “A long time ago, in a place called Narnia…”. We would know immediately that the writer was not basing his writings in reality.  But the Bible doesn’t do that.  It gives place names, identifies historical figures and events, and presents the accounts as factual.  

The question then becomes, are the writes of the Bible are intending it to be read as factual? If so, do they also expect us to take the moral and miraculous claims as factual? I think it’s apparent that they do.  And if they do, it puts the Christian that wants to have a “take it or leave it” view of the Bible’s position on moral issues in an uncomfortable position.  The less accurate the history presented in the Bible is, the easier it is to stray from the other teachings of the Bible.  

Out Of Step?

The Bible makes some claims that are not in lock step with the current moral revolution taking place.  The Bible’s teaching on sex in particular are under assault.  Sex within the context of marriage between one man and one woman is seen as outdated, restrictive and oppressive.  If the Bible can be reduced to just a book of faith, then we can remake God into whatever we want “Him”, “Her” or “It” to be.   God can then approve of whatever lifestyle we chose.  In this way we make God in our image, rather than the other way around.  In the words of C.S. Lewis:

 “We want, in fact, not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven: a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”

While we should be happy the Bible is historically accurate, this also makes it dangerous.  Dangerous because it can’t be ignored or written off. It must be dealt with. And that’s a place many don’t want to go.  It’s not an easy path.  It requires sacrifice and submission to something other than one’s self.  In a culture that celebrates worship of the self as the highest form of moral good, this is an unwelcome prospect.   And that’s why it’s resisted so much.

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