Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 2)

“Why should I believe the Bible?”

That is a very important question and one that requires us to look at various aspects of the Bible. In the first post in this series, we considered that the Bible is literature.  It is also important that we realize that the Bible is… 

Complex

It is important to not think simplistically about the Bible.[1] The Bible is clear but it is also complex.[2] The youngest child can understand the core of it’s teaching yet the learned scholar can spend a lifetime pursuing understanding. We shouldn’t think we will be able to understand it’s mysteries in a few moments—let alone millions of them—but we also shouldn’t hopelessly resign to ignorance either. As the psalmist and many others have said and experienced, faithful digging leads to many treasures of gold.

I challenge you to consider what I write in the next few posts and then dig deeper. Don’t write it off because it doesn’t seem palatable or doesn’t seem to make sense. There are many things that are good for us that don’t taste good at first and there are all sorts of things that don’t make sense at first that are still helpful (many would cite math here).

Here are a few of the challenges facing the reader of the Bible:[3]

  1. The immense length and magnitude of the book.
  2. The ancient strangeness of the Bible’s world and customs, when compared to our own.
  3. The diversity of subject matter and forms of writing.
  4. The fact that most of the Bible is embodied in distinctly literary forms rather than the utilitarian prose of our daily lives.
  5. The way in which the Bible’s refusal to gloss over human failing convicts us of our failings.
  6. The need for spiritual discernment to understand the Bible’s spiritual truth.

Here are a few ways to meet the challenges to reading the Bible:[4]

  1. Let go of the idea that you need to read the Bible through as you would a novel. Instead, read the Bible as you would read an anthology of diverse writings.
  2. The Bible requires a “bifocal” approach: First, enter the world of the Bible, and then look through that would to you own.
  3. Relish the Bible’s different forms of expression.
  4. Welcome the opportunity to put into practice what you have learned about literature and to learn more about how literature works.
  5. Consider what the Bible says about the bad news of sin, and pay attention to what the Bible says about God’s gracious solution to the problem of human sinfulness.
  6. Ask God to help you.

____________________

[1] The Bible’s complexity does not alone mean that it should be trusted as the word of God. However, I think we should expect that something that deals with the worldview issues that the Bible deals with and claims to be the word of God would be complex.

[2] So, I am not here contradicting the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture (though, I would say that the term perspicuity is not the clearest or best way to explain the clarity of Scripture). The Bible is clear and accessible to us (see Deut. 30:11-14).

[3] This is taken from the helpful resource Ryken’s Bible Handbook, 3-4.

[4] See Ryken’s Bible Handbook, 4.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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