Why Believe the Bible?

This is just a stub post to be a home for me, limejelly, forester, and Howard (or anybody else, actually) to discuss the above-mentioned title question. It is a jumping-off point from a thread that got somewhat lost over here, but was also not fully resolved here (see esp. comments #2, 5-7)
Gentlemen, start your noggins!

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13 Responses

  1. At least three concepts:

    1. (already mentioned): God made me do it, by virtue of ordaining that I be raised in a Christian family. That answer is obviously not helpful.

    2. (already mentioned): Since Jesus is neither Lunatic nor Liar, he must be what he claimed, which is Lord, i.e. the human incarnation of God. We ought to listen to what he had to say, and it is contained in the Bible, not just in the Gospels, but the Old Testament which Jesus referenced and reinterpreted, and the rest of the New Testament, which further elucidates Jesus’ message and purpose. But limejelly has mentioned that he has his “own opinions as to the possible routes by which the texts arose”, so if the Gospels are lying about what Jesus said, this argument is unhelpful. And I supposed limejelly might consider Jesus to actually be Lunatic or Liar.

    3. There exist many people who can speak eloquently about the unbelievable unity, cohesiveness, power, etc. of message of the Bible, which is a document written over a period of thousands of years by dozens of authors. No merely human effort could have acheived a work like the Bible. Therefore it is (as itself purports to be) divinely inspired, and thus we ought to listen to it. Unfortunately, that’s about all I have to say about that. Perhaps others can chime in. And of course provide additional arguments.

  2. Maybe there is no logical reason to believe the Bible. I like concept one. 2 and 3 help but faith is still required. Unregenerate man cannot come to Christ through their own intellect.

  3. Apologetics helps bolster the faith of the faithful, but never seems to win the hearts of the disbelieving. Winning an argument (or good-natured discusion) doesn’t by necessity lead to winning a convert. Ultimately, as noted in comment 2 by Anonymous, the intellect is incapable of grasping things of the Spirit. God-generated faith is required. God may use well reasoned apologetics to open the door for the gospel, but apologetics, strickly speaking, aint the gospel.

    So then, why believe the Bible? Because it’s true. Every word of it is breathed by God is unfailingly true and right and pure. If you don’t believe that, then you’re a ninny. So there.

  4. I think you two are oversimplifying things. If you are right, then so are the seeker-sensitive ninnies who dumb down their Christianity to make it more subjectively appealing, hoping I guess to snare rocky soilers by their emotions, and then what, hope that some substantive Word sticks to their guts before they wither?

    But we are called to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you

  5. I don’t mean to imply that knowing what you believe and why is a waste of time…just the contrary. It’s important to be able to articulate important facts about and reasons for your faith. This is where apologetics is most useful. Those facts and reasons should never be “dumbed down” either.

    I’m a big fan of apologetics, but when it comes down to why and when your discussion partner embraces biblical faith, the gospel is the power of salvation and not apologetics. I like winning arguments as much as or more than the next guy, but winning arguments does not win souls.

    My desire when I employ apologetics is not to argue a person into the Kingdom of God, but to give him an understanding that there are reasonable motives for believing as I do. I also try to make sure I share the gospel at some point in every discussion like that, because THAT is what is most important.

    Good apologetics may open eyes and make one curious to learn more about the subject under discussion, but ultimately, even if the person agrees with me that his arguments are invalid and intellectually unsupportable, he will still refuse to believe…unless the Holy Spirit supernaturally replaces his stony heart with a heart of flesh. A brilliant argument will not do that.

  6. I’d like to tackle this question from another angle and suggest that people can believe the Bible because it has convinced them of its truth(s)/Truth as they read it carefully. Why do we believe anything that we read? We do not have to come at Scripture reading with the presupposition that it is God’s Word, just that it is a piece of literature that is worth reading (after all, it has stood the test of time :)). Once we are reading it (fairly as we do any text to which we have given our precious time), then the text itself will persuade (or not) of its validity.

    This, by the way, is the approach I have taken in my comparative Bible/Qur’an studies. (After all, the Qur’an has stood the test of time as well.) Open the two texts side by side and read them fairly and openly and interrogate them. No one has to be evangelistic or apologetic or pushy. This can be true dialogue. But, what I am trying to discover as I revise the studies into a book is whether the inductive questioning method of most literary studies, which is just instinctive to me, is a “fair” one to apply to a text that most of its devout adherents experiece as aural. I’m not finished with my forrays into the literature about this, but I remain convinced that we all question what a text says, what it means and what it means to us, at some level anyhow.

  7. because it has convinced them of its truth(s)/Truth as they read it carefully

    Maybe then the question would back up to "Why should I read the Bible (in order to believe it)"? I guess that answer has to rely on personal testimonials, just like the reason you should believe that Four Seasons in Piscataway, NJ (which, due to lack of ambience (and web administration costs, apparently) serves the same food for $1 less than its daughter restaurant, Pad Thai in Highland Park (but the point is, if you are ever in the vicinity of Rutgers, this is where to get dinner (and for lunch, you have to get Thermonuclear wings at Cluck-U-Chicken)))) is the best Thai restaurant in the world, is because if you eat there, it will become self-evident. But why should you eat there? Because T&I have eaten there, and cannot help gushing about how much we love that restaurant!

    the Qur’an has stood the test of time as well

    I heard (probably from you) that even though the Qur'an is considered inspired only in the original language, it is only recently being subjected to the intense textual/linguistic scrutiny that the Bible has endured for centuries.

  8. Yes, to your last point about the Q. As an evangelical who believes that the Bible is inspired (we won’t go to inerrant or any other stronger category here), you can’t help but feel sympathetic with Muslims who are aware of the kind of scrutiny the Q is “enduring” now. But that is part of the interrogation and is ok. No believer in their Book should shield it or themselves from that scrutiny.

  9. P.S. Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t interrogate the interrogators while we are at it. Questions can actually lead to answers (something that is not commonly accepted by the mainline religious groups on our campus) and not all answers are equal.

  10. The concept of questions leading to answers isn't commonly accepted by liberal intelligentsia, either — which is how I get in trouble with some Christians.  Their objection, of course, is not to the questions, but to the answers — as if to answer a question, rather than leave it open, is itself heresy.

  11. The Forester and I obviously live in the same kind of environment even if his isn’t a bucolic college campus at the moment. And his comment reminds me of two things: the mainline Protestant student group at COW, seeing a resurgence these days under the leadership of the “Buddhist-Christian” assistant campus minister, is deliberately called “EnRoute.” And when all the groups moved into new digs last fall (including WCF), the faculty member of the Rel. Studies dept. most closely associated with campus ministry welcomed us all by saying that those who thought they had discovered truth or whose journey had a destination were NOT welcomed in the building. Of course, the WCF student leaders and our dear staff member and I were standing right within his line of vision. Welcoming, wouldn’t you agree? All roads up the mountain to God are equally valid–except yours. How tolerant is that?

    BTW, I have just started to read a little book called Scripture and The Authority of God by N.T. Wright (my favorite theologian) on this very topic.

  12. the faculty member of the Rel. Studies dept. most closely associated with campus ministry welcomed us all by saying that those who thought they had discovered truth or whose journey had a destination were NOT welcomed in the building.

    I have discovered truth. My journey has a destination (and a wonderful one at that). And I will most certainly avoid that building.

  13. If only it were that easy: but if we want to interact with these folks, that’s the territory we enter. For example, it’s in this building that I have met the Hillel rabbi to read Genesis together. Ruberad has asked for a “what have I learned” post about this experience, and I am processing my thoughts and emotions to do just that. (I do try to avoid that particular prof whenever possible though, I must admit. It’s very hard to know how to love him, how to pray for him….and I fail miserably.)

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