Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
In order to determine the accuracy of a copied manuscript, textual critics must examine the way the transcripts have been passed down to their current form. The more consistent early texts are shown to be, the more reliable the current form is and the greater the opportunity for accuracy.
Dialogue with any opponent to christianity and you’ll soon be listening to criticism regarding God’s Word. For some people, the objections raised against the accuracy of God’s Word becomes too much for them to consider, accepting the Truth that lies hidden within the Bible is often a first step to hearing the message of the gospel. For the believer that wants to be a testimony of God’s grace, addressing these concerns can be a daunting task if your not prepared in how to respond.
Some of the most common criticisms I’ve heard include:
- The Bible was formed by corrupt people during the middle ages.
- The Bible is full of contradictions.
- The Bible makes claims that are contrary to proven science.
- The Bible can be interpreted differently depending on your bias.
- The Bible is outdated and promotes slavery, prejudice against women, and hatred against homosexuality.
- The Bible isn’t original, the Sumerians had the idea first.
- The Bible isn’t accurate since we don’t have original manuscripts.
The list of arguments against the Bible goes on and on, for those who don’t want to be subject to a Biblical standard of morality, the need to devalue the Word of God is as important to denying who Jesus is.
After a lengthy rebuttal the Bible can be shown that it’s formation was made by those who walked with God and were inspired by Jesus. The contradictions are only very limited in number and show that the majority of God’s Word is concise and self-supportive. The original form was very clear in it’s intent and when looked at from a perspective from when it was written, it shows support of all classes and cultures of people. It is original, it is extremely accurate and it is life to all who have given their life to Christ.
The short list of people who are critics is only the tip of the iceberg, throughout history people like Karl Marx, Aristophanes, Aristotle, Andrew Carnegie, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gene Roddenberry, and many more claim either an air of doubt or outright aggressive hatred for biblical Truth.
Thomas Edison—“Religion is all bunk.”
Emily Dickinson—“Faith is a fine invention, when gentlemen can see / But microscopes are prudent in an emergency.”
Even people who I would have traditionally considered christian have raised their doubts.
Thomas Jefferson—“Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”
Benjamin Franklin–“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
Does the fact that very famous people in history who have doubted the Church give extra credence to the arguments against the Bible? I’ve addressed many of these questions in my blog I titled proof. I’m not writing another dissertation on answering all these questions, I want to look at these doubters from a different point of view.
Who to Believe?
If my wife and I are having a discussion about trends within marriages or about men and women in general, my wife will often cite the trends she is aware of among her friends or acquaintances to help prove her point. If I show a trend that is contrary to what her friends or family have shown, I must be going against what is a normal expectation of men. I love my wife and greatly respect her opinion but my inclinations are to not only consider her sources but I must ask myself if her sources are relative to our situation. We have a lot of friends and family that have been very successful in marriage and relationships, does every success story relate to everyone else?
Since I was a very young man I have been repulsed at being a ‘follower’. In other words, if everyone is doing something, I tend to look at the trend skeptically and resist the movement until I figure out who everyone is following. If the person everyone is following is not worth following, I tend to go the other way. I have found that anyone worth following is someone who has stood their ground in the face of adversity and haven’t concerned themselves with popularity but stood on a foundation of God’s Truth.
Many skeptics in history and today have been a product of their culture. If questions regarding science couldn’t be answered in the Bible, skeptics would look at scientific trends, no matter how unproven they were and find an argument against God’s Word.
If a philosophical debate ended in more questions than answers, a skeptic might doubt the validity of God’s Word based off unresolved conclusions.
The doubter finds a way to doubt if that is the direction they want to go.
I’ve mentioned before that my brother is an atheist, he is not the only atheist that I have argued with and there will probably be many more. I have found that atheists want to deny God, no amount of reasoning changes a person who is bent on unbelief. It has been a popular trend in the past 25 years to produce books on apologetics, or the arguments for God’s Truth and many have been useful in showing that following God’s Word is reasonable.
Doubters typically have a reason for their doubt and it isn’t founded in the myriad of arguments, it is usually founded in experiences that galvanized them against the church. Every atheist I’ve ever met had an experience with a ‘christian’, or church denomination that set them against any notion of religion from that point on.
A false representation of Christ is repulsive.
When I look at the ways that Jesus interacted with the public, I didn’t see Him giving a lot of arguments counter to Greek philosophy that was prevalent in His day. What I read when I hear Jesus speak is revealed Truth. Jesus not only revealed Truth, He lived it as well.
John 8:31-32 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
What did Jesus mean by the encouragement to ‘abide in His Word’?
To abide is the greek word Meno‘, it means to tarry like a guest in a lodge. You have been invited to stay and listen, to rest in the comfort of God’s Truth and enjoy the company of the Savior. You haven’t been invited to follow people who misrepresent Christ, nor have you been asked to subscribe to a denomination that might seem more club oriented than Christ oriented.
You have been invited to follow Jesus.
The final argument for Truth is found in the One who established Truth by His Word and God’s expression of love.
Changing your Perspective
If your experiences with religion have been relegated to people who act hateful or are more concerned about maintaining their way of life rather than showing love, your perception of Christ will be falsely misleading.
When I was a young man, my small christian school used our local church as a base of operations. On Wednesday mornings we would have our weekly chapel service in the main sanctuary of the church. When the kids would go into the sanctuary we got a perspective that we didn’t usually have on Sunday mornings. Throughout the church were pillows sitting in the pews. Large and small pillows had been strategically placed so that the people who attended the church each week could save the spot where they liked to sit. Even as a young man I recognized how problematic this would be for anyone who wanted to visit. Sit in someone’s spot and you might get a glaring response that seemed unloving or unwelcoming. Much of the way the church practiced made it very difficult to invite someone new, particularly if they were new to a Sunday church environment. I wonder how many people who are atheists today have had those same experiences, walking into a church and being received with a glare for sitting in the wrong seat or hearing a worship service that resembled chaos rather than unity of the Spirit.
I look back on those days and wonder now how they responded when we moved those pillows all over the church. Our rebellion against that staunch spirit was probably not the best way to respond, if kids can see the hypocrisy then you’d think the pastor would recognize it as well.
Ephesians 4:1-6 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
If the church wants to be a light to the world, the church must understand how to represent Christ to the world accurately. Jesus embodies all that is good and perfect in the christian faith. The message of the cross regarding sin and grace cuts through the myriad of arguments and false accusations. The church must remember that it isn’t the christian preacher that saves people, that work is ultimately relegated to God Himself.
The Bible is accurate, science does support the Bible, and philosophy only concludes well with a biblical narrative. If you can’t answer everyone’s doubts regarding God’s Word, don’t worry about it, the only message that will every ring true in the hearts of the doubters is the hope that is in Christ alone.
Being a disciple maker is to lead those who respond to God’s call toward the freedom God has called them to, not subject them to a structure that becomes oppressive.