Why should I believe the Bible? (pt 8)

Many decide not to follow the Bible because it is in their opinion morally restrictive. However, we as humans need a definitive source of morality. We need a moral guide and the Bible is… 

Moral

As we have said, many people struggle with the morality that the Bible presents. D.A. Carson has said, “Many Christians slide away from full confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture for reasons that are not so much intellectual as broadly cultural.”[1] Many people, for example, do not agree with the Bible’s opposition towards homosexual practice.

Vern Poythress writes,

“Modern worldviews are at odds with the worldview put forward in the Bible. This difference in worldviews creates obstacles when modern people read and study the Bible. People come to the Bible with expectations that do not fit the Bible, and this clash becomes one main reason, though not the only one, why people do not find the Bible’s claims acceptable.”[2]

So, many react against the moral teachings of the Bible. Yet, without an objective moral standard, we are left without any ultimate standard of what is morally right and just. Humanity is left to do whatever is right in their own eyes. To adapt Ivan Karamazov’s words from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s book The Brothers Karamazov: If there is no objective truth, everything is permitted. Or consider what Nietzsche reasons to in the absence of God and objective morality.[3] He says there is no God, no truth, and no ulitmate morality so we can and should do whatever we want.

This is appealing in some ways but as G.K. Chesterton has said, “By rebelling against everything [modern man] has lost his right to rebel against anything.” And so it is, if we say there is no truth and no morality we cannot then criticize the things others do (no matter what they do), because truth and morality do not exist.[4] So, we are left with an uncomfortable dilemma.

I believe, however, that we have truth. I believe there is an objective standard of truth and I believe God gives it to us in the Bible.

_________________

[1] Carson, “Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture in Our Lives” in Themelios 42.1 (2017), 1.

[2] Vern Sheridan Poythress, Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible, 14. “Some people are morally offended by parts of the Bible. Some parts of it do not fit modern ideas about good religion” (Ibid., 15).

[3] See e.g. my paper, “Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom.”

[4] See e.g. my post, “Darwin, Dawkins, and Moral Duty.” Also, it is important for us to note that science can tell us what is, but it can never tell us what ought be. I appreciate what William Jennings Bryan said after the Scopes trail: “Science is a magnificent force, but it is not a teacher of morals. It can perfect machinery, but it adds no moral restraints to protect society from the misuse of the machine. It can also build gigantic intellectual ships, but it constructs no moral rudders for the control of storm-tossed human vessel. It not only fails to supply the spiritual element needed but some of its unproven hypotheses rob the ship of its compass and thus endanger its cargo. In war, science has proven itself an evil genius; it has made war more terrible than it ever was before. Man used to be content to slaughter his fellowmen on a single plane, the earth’s surface. Science has taught him to go down into the water and shoot up from below and to go up into the clouds and shoot down from above, thus making the battlefield three times as bloody as it was before; but science does not teach brotherly love. Science has made war so hellish that civilization was about to commit suicide; and now we are told that newly discovered instruments of destruction will make the cruelties of the late war seem trivial in comparison with the cruelties of wars that may come in the future. If civilization is to be saved from the wreckage threatened by intelligence not consecrated by love, it must be saved by the moral code of the meek and lowly Nazarene. His teachings, and His teachings alone, can solve the problems that vex the heart and perplex the world.”

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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 10 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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