Aldous Huxley, noteworthy author and atheist, once stated: “The Day will come when faith will be separated from fact forever, and faith will go on living forever.”
He was claiming that a day would come when people would believe in whatever “felt right” ultimately based on goose pimples, heart beats, temperature, intuition, and the very direction of the wind.
That scary day has arrived.
Nowadays, whatever one feels becomes his or her personal truth and becomes validation for everything from burning Korans as a righteous act to assuming New Age positions that will bring soreness and, somehow, enlightenment. If a person feels like it is truth, it is, and it isn’t for anyone to mess with it.
AW Tozer offered a different view in his famous quote, he said: “A man’s view of God is the most important thing about him.”
But the lenses to that view for a Christian, nay the very eyes, must be Scripture and a man’s view of that, for it is through Scripture that we see God as He chooses to be revealed and represented: the Bible is how we know what we can know about God. And it is how we keep from bounding around, filled by the helium of our flighty thoughts and moved along by mere personal experience. We are, after all, each of us a very small piece in this great big world.
And so, frankly, this is why the Bible must matter to a believer. In the same way sports break down without a referee—I remember many a neighborhood football game disbanding after coming to fisticuffs for lack of an official ruling, or, more recently, I recall the NFL’s replacement officials—our existence needs a solid official. It needs some boundaries, some rules, some way of telling truth from lie and real from nonsense. The Bible becomes this great umpire, a judge for all seasons and at all times for all things. Here are some shorthand ways we can believe what it says about God, us, and the world we live in:
1. We must take into account what the Bible says about itself.
-Many scholars claim you cannot do this. Of course it says it is true, they reason, it is talking about itself. And on one hand they are quite right. I will tell you all day long I am right about everything and when pressed on why I’m right, I will say, “Well, because I am right about everything.” Now, if you take that as fact you are, simply put, a fool. But on the other hand, one must investigate its claims much like one would question some stranger discovered in one’s yard. Say you look outside and see a bedraggled human form sprawled in your yard. The man, bearded and tattered, seems confused and, in many ways, otherworldly. You may call the police, and they may show up and test and prod and examine the man: Who is he? Where did he come from? Is everything okay with him? Does he pose a threat? But at some point, equally foolish as believing everything a person says about himself without further evidence, would be not asking the person anything at all. At some point, someone must ask the man, “Who are you? Where did you come from? Is everything okay?” Not to, simply put again, would be the epitome of illogical.
Here are some of the Bible’s claims about itself, which, if found to be true, means the Bible is a very big deal indeed: II Timothy 3:16-17, Deuteronomy 18:18-20, Acts 4:25, Psalm 12:6, I Corinthians 14:35-38, I Thessalonians 2:13, I Peter 1:23-25.
There are many others worth looking at, but from these, one can surmise that the Bible is comprised of the writings of God through human authors. Their Bible-included ideas, funneled through their God-given talents and mental capabilities, were given from God Himself. If this is true, it makes the Bible the ultimate revelation to truth and life and hope.
2. Biblical Unity must be considered.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Bible, whether you believe it to be the Word of God or not, is the unity contained within the expansive pages. Frankly, it is a long book, and yet a cohesive one. For starters, there are at least 40 writers (with some pending debate over the authorship of certain books). Rival that with many other religious tomes, which feature one writer, and it certainly adds credibility to the collaborated effort: imagine the government, for instance, without checks and balances. Furthermore, these writers are a diverse set. Some were educated, some were not. There is a doctor, some fishermen, an IRS agent, and there are bilingual geniuses along with those of below average linguistic skill and presumed intelligence. And it isn’t just the occupational and mental diversity, but the fact that these authors wrote over a span of epochs. Between their writings, wars were won and lost, civilizations rose and fell, governments collapsed, religions came and went, people groups migrated and changed, and, basically, history happened. Yet within the 66 books, covering 15 centuries through 3 languages, there is a consistency to the theme. These multi-cultural accounts, though offered up by very different personalities and multifarious personal opinions, do not conflict in their Theological assertions. This is staggering. They confer in their approach to a God and the dealings of His Son and Spirit with mankind. If meaning is a circle, the writers all land within that circle in terms of Theology and message, and this is no trifle of a thing.
Imagine, say, you chose to have a book authored about technology or politics or art or any such thing over a twenty year period. Each year a new chapter would be written by a different author. Well even in this hypothetical twenty year book there would be some pretty glaring differences and changes and amendments and seriously flawed moments. The Bible, written more diversely and in a more drawn out fashion, features flawless cohesion in terms of the approach to God, the focal point of the . . . story?
Well, yes, that is one other thing worth considering in terms of unity. The Bible is not a narrative; at least, not all of it. It is not a letter; at least all of it isn’t. It isn’t purely apocalyptic in nature, either. In fact, it is all of these things and more. There are narratives, epistles, personal requests, allegory, parable, apocalypse, poetry, recorded discourse/teaching, biography, memoir . . . it is a literary explosion. And yet, again, there is a sense of unity in its message.
3. Longevity cannot be ignored.
I’ll be the first to admit that one can look at the Biblical unity and scoff, “Well, of course, they picked the canon with this in mind, after all!” And the canonizing process was a tedious, tense affair for this very reason. But while it is easy to say that unity shouldn’t count because some guys got together and “picked their team” centuries ago, it is much harder to reconcile how well they did. They were just men. If one were to document their lives, there would be plenty of ammunition to fire against those involved. There were the hypocrites and the power-drunk. Some were dim and some were puppets. Yet this sordid collection of humans, through choosing and excluding, developed a thing that has lasted generation after generation without altercation, amendment, or apology. What was, is. And in the age of second-guessing, well, this in itself just shouldn’t happen. The Bible should be burned, banned, dismissed, eradicated, endangered and yet it can be found in the most diminutive of tongues, on bookshelves worldwide, in formats abounding, in the seediest of motels’ room drawers, and beyond. In short, the Bible is persistent and recurring and read, despite an offensive message and, at times, dated language.
4. The inability to overtly disprove the thing.
This is troubling to many an atheist and for good reason. You see, for centuries some of the world’s finest minds have struck out with shovel and spade, with a simple goal in mind: disprove this fool Bible and hence erradicate all it says. And some will say, well, it disproves itself: Look at the miracles or this ridiculous notion or that! But when those who believe the Bible use the same reasoning in the positive sense as a reason to believe the Bible (Look at the miracles!) they are deemed simpletons of magnanimous proportions. No, we cannot have two sets of rules for the factions. If proof is where truth has to be found, as the way our modern world has contended, you cannot say the Bible is untrue because some of it seems dated or fantastical or just doesn’t feel right. You cannot use the very thing you say is wrong with Christianity as the very means by which to vilify the Christian. No, factual evidence must be had to prove false the thing which lays claim to truth. And many a scientist and scholar has set out to do just that. Yet, still to this day, no undeniable proof has manifested which proves the claims of the Bible false (other than the claims that say, “That couldn’t happen because it is impossible” in which “impossible” translates roughly to, “We’ve never seen it happen.”) In fact, time and time again, made up things have been proven to be quite real indeed. For instance, the Hittites were deemed “made up” but then were dug up and found; Solomon’s stables were found with room for thousands of horses; Luke’s recap of Jesus and the early church was considered all sorts of false but Luke himself was discovered by a reputable unbelieving scientist and scholar to be, “a true historian”; they found the Pool of Bethesda (previously thought a fabrication) and even garnered evidence for another apparent aberration: Pilate, the man who gave Jesus to the raging crowds, himself.
And perhaps most startling was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This find discovered the earliest discernible version of the Bible and pre-dated the former earliest version by around 800 years. If changes ran rampant, it feasibly could have been the end of a credible Bible and non-cult form of Christianity. With bated breath, scholars, Christian and non-Christian alike, went to the labs, brought in the linguists and experts, and went to work. At the end of the process, the discovered portion matched the 800 year newer version at a 95% clip, and 100% in terms of meaning and associations that included Christ and things pertaining to the Cross and central message of the gospel.
The point is this, there are some really intelligent people committing their lives to disproving the Bible and its message. When these smart people finally have the consummation of their life’s work, I’m certain they will not hold back in displaying their inarguable scientific claims. The world will know and Jesus will be laid in the tomb to rest, this time for good. The problem is this hasn’t happened. Despite our intelligence, our technology, our resources, nothing has come forth that shatters the premise of the Bible beyond the skeptical, “Come on!” It is maddening, I’m sure, for the brilliant naysayer never to have enough to convict and put the sacred book away for life. And while there will always be a new rabble of geniuses hurling their stones at Jesus and his absurd claims, there are many that take this deeper look, drop their stones, and join His side. Either way amongst the digging and dating and reading and writing, the Bible, somehow, remains much like Jesus, “a bruised reed, he will not break.”
5. The Bible’s reliance on itself.
The Old Testament and New Testament are quite different. However, they rely on each other. And this is the state of the whole Bible. All parts rely on other parts. Hundreds of predictions are made in the Old Testament, of which fulfillment comes in the New Testament. And these prophetic statements, for the most part, are not of the vague astrological vein: You will have a success( sort of) or In the future a building will have a fire and the smoke will rise.
No, the Bible sets itself up to fail in the specificity of many of its prophetic statements. Yet time and time again, the loose ends are tied in a way that suggests a supernatural presence. The other interesting thing is that many of the books of the Bible were not penned with a foreknowledge of the author that they, indeed, would be canonized. The fact that, for instance, the letters of Paul and that of James can be so very different yet unified in tone and meaning is uniquely challenging. Especially when one considers that the two men didn’t know they’d wind up in the same book thousands of years later. Some of the authors were dead and some didn’t read the works of the others: there couldn’t have just been blanketed mimicry or collusion. No, seemingly by accident or by fate or by some higher power perhaps, accounts and core theology matched.
Of course, some will say, early revisionists compiled the whole thing and made sure things matched up. Okay. Sure. I’ve seen “National Treasure” movies, too. I do believe in conspiracies. But I also believe the truth eventually surfaces, especially when millions of eyes over centuries are looking for that truth. I have a hard time fathoming a motive for controlling an upstart, loathed religion or the personal gain that would come from it, or that in a highly illiterate time in history, why controlling a book would be the means to seeing this control wrought forth? Now, has the Church misused power? Of course. Have people, at times, twisted passages of the Bible for their own gain? Of course and always! But to think some sinister mass, without the aid of technology and wide amounts of education, got together in the early stages of Christianity and formulated some powerful book that would stand the test of time and benefit them in some way and future others for millennia to come is giving mankind a bit too much credit, I think. No plot is that flawless or long-lasting.
One could study the facts for a lifetime, and one probably should adhere to the wisdom of Huxley and study them to some extent, noting the pandemonium that comes from flighty belief in anything. But at some point it is a faith in the Bible or faith against the Bible that must take the lead. And if that faith is in the accuracy and truth of the Bible, one must confine himself to its rules, its calls, and its authority while on the field of this life. If it is not the Bible, a man should be obligated to providing another object, other than himself, that guides his life. The “you can go your own way” culture of the day is a scary one indeed, like a street paved void of lines or signals or rules of the road. We have become a world, swerving and speeding and cruising along, but in this manner, a crash is inevitable.