Is The Bible Relevant Today?

I have a drawer in my desk that’s filled with manuals and instruction guides. Every time I purchase a new device (whether it’s an electric garden tool or a smart phone), I store the original instruction manual in this drawer. I occasionally return to these guides when I have a problem or need an answer. But, about once a year, I sift through these documents and throw many of them away. The discarded manuals are still true and skillfully written, but they’re now irrelevant; I’ve mastered the devices they describe, and I’m able to overcome any problem I may encounter on my own. But, while my collection of instruction manuals shrinks every year, my collection of Bibles and related study materials increases. Why? Because the Bible continues to answer life’s most important questions. It solves the most pressing problem we face as humans; a problem we simply can’t resolve on our own.

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There’s a Difference Between Evidence and Proof

Several years ago I presented a talk at the Apologetics Canada Conference in which I examined the reaction Bart Ehrman had related to the textual variants he found in the Biblical text. As he pursued his education over the years and poured over the manuscripts of the Bible, he evaluated the evidence and eventually decided that Christianity was false. Ehrman is clearly a very smart man, raised in the Church and well educated:

Bart Ehrman
Studied at Moody Bible Institute
Graduated from Wheaton College
Received his PhD and MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary
Former President of Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature

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Christian Worldview: What Does It Mean to Be “In the World” but Not “Of the World”?

Some time ago, my wife and I watched an episode of a comedy series hosted on Netflix. Within a few minutes we became increasingly uncomfortable with the language and content of the humor. Don’t get me wrong, it was hilarious, and as a cop, crude, vulgar humor has been a part of my everyday experience for over two decades. But as we sat there watching this particular episode, we both had a growing sense that the show was somehow “desensitizing our sensibilities”. We started to feel… “dirty”. We turned off the laptop; watching any further only demonstrated our tacit approval and we wanted to stop before our worldview had been permanently altered.

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Rapid Response: “The Gospels Are Unreliable”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “Even if the events recorded in the Gospels came from eyewitness accounts, why should we trust what eyewitnesses tell us? Even modern-day witnesses are notoriously unreliable and are often wrong about what they claim to have seen. Why should we trust ancient eyewitness accounts?” How would you respond to such an objection? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

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Rapid Response: “The Gospels Have Been Altered”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “I can’t believe what the Gospels say because they were altered over the years.” How would you respond to such an objection? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“I understand the objection, because that was one of my first doubts as a skeptic. I held two suspicions as a committed atheist (I didn’t examine the Gospels until I was in my thirties). First, I didn’t think the Gospels were written early in history, because they contained so many miraculous stories. I was a committed philosophical naturalist and I rejected miracles. So, I figured the Gospels must have been written late in history, after all the people who knew the truth about Jesus were already dead and gone. Secondly, even if the Gospels were written early, I suspected the supernatural elements were inserted later. I believed the earliest versions of the Gospel accounts were probably much less supernatural. Maybe, in the first versions of the story, Jesus was a simple guy who was a good teacher, but not a miracle worker. He didn't walk on water and didn't rise from the dead; all those elements, in my opinion, were inserted later.

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Why Making a Case for the Bible Is More Important Than Arguing About Politics

We’ve just experienced an unprecedentedly contentious and polarizing political season. Throughout this time, I’ve been tempted to enter the fray, especially on social media, where I’ve observed several heated exchanges between my friends and family members. I refrained from commenting or arguing about politics, however, and a few of my followers have asked why I’ve been so silent on the issues that seem to divide our nation. It’s not that I don’t have a view I would like to share, and it’s not that I feel incompetent to express my views. I simply understand the real battle: If everyone held an accurately informed Christian worldview, the number (and degree) of disputes over the issues facing our country would be dramatically reduced. In other words, if people took the Bible as seriously as they took their political positions, we’d probably agree on almost everything.

If you’re in disagreement with an unbelieving friend or family member, you shouldn’t be surprised. They probably reject the Bible (and what it teaches) altogether. If you’re in disagreement with a believing friend or family member, you also shouldn’t be surprised. They may not take their Bible any more seriously than an unbeliever. They may not be reading it, or might not be reading it seriously enough to develop an accurately informed Christian worldview. In either case, our disagreements are rooted in our view of the Bible; if we disagree, it’s because we either don’t understand or don’t accept what the Bible teaches.

That’s why I spend more time making the case for the reliability of the Bible to unbelievers, and the correct interpretation of the Bible to believers, than I do arguing about our respective social. Moral or political views. If my goal is agreement, it’s more important to address the cause of our disagreement than the disagreement itself. It all comes down to helping people understand why it’s important to take the Bible seriously:

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A Witness Can Be Wrong and Reliable

In every crime scene I’ve ever worked, both evidence and artifacts were present; it’s my job to separate one from the other. Did the murderer cause this blood smear, or was it caused by the paramedic who responded before me and tried to resuscitate the victim? Some smears may be evidence I can use to reconstruct the struggle, others may simply be artifacts that are completely unrelated to the crime. The evidence matters, the artifacts are inconsequential.

The “evidence” of scripture also contains unrelated “artifacts”. Bart Ehrman, for example, has drawn attention to the number of textual variations (artifacts) in the New Testament. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman describes his own descent from faith:

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Why I Know the Gospels Were Written Early (FREE Bible Insert)

The first criteria I use to test the reliability of a witness is simply this: was the alleged “eyewitness” really present when the crime occurred? You can’t be a true eyewitness if you weren’t even there to see what it is you said you saw! This simple criteria is part of a four part reliability template I describe in Cold-Case Christianity, and reflects the California jury instructions for jurors who are asked to assess the reliability of eyewitnesses on the stand. As a skeptic, I examined this issue related to the claims of the Gospel authors. Matthew and John were allegedly eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. Mark (according to the first century bishop, Papias) chronicled the eyewitness account of the Apostle Peter, and Luke recorded his own investigation of the eyewitnesses. But how early are these accounts? Could they have been written by people who were actually present during the life and ministry of Jesus?
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