Yes, we’re late today, never mind. The Mom got distracted this morning with the other two figuring out the calendar system they’re going to start using: she had to send invitations to them for all her calendar things that involve them. (They’re using iCal, which Cathie syncs with her Google calendar.)
It was Sharon’s turn again on Sunday, and her "hot question" was "How Can a Thoughtful Person Believe in the Bible?"
It’s not reliable!
Sharon talked about two tests. The biographic test is the number of ancient manuscripts that have been found. (For example, if you’re digging in your yard and you find a document that says "the cat is black", and another one that says "the bat is black", you’re not sure which is true; unless you find another, and maybe another, that both say "the cat is black".) Sharon had a list of several ancient manuscripts, the one having the second-most was Homer’s Iliad with 643 manuscripts. For the New Testament, they’ve found more than 24,000 manuscripts! (And about 40,000 fragments from the Old Testament.) The other test is where they carbon date the manuscript, and compare to the date that the original is supposed to be. The gap for the Iliad is 500 years; for manuscripts from the New Testament: 25 years! With the Dead Sea Scrolls, the gap for Old Testament documents is 300 to 500 years. The point is, no one questions the facts presented in ancient documents that date back much earlier than the Iliad (Socrates, etc.), with much lower "scores" on these two tests.
It’s not accurate!
- New evidence is being discovered daily, in archeological digs ever since Israel repossessed their homeland–for example, for a long time there was no other evidence that there really was a person named "Pilate", until they found a fragment with that name on it, dating back to the time the Bible refers to.
- Many other writers, though not Christian, refer to some of the same events that the Bible mentions (e.g. Josephus).
- The Dead Sea Scrolls show the accuracy of the painstaking copying (letter by letter, not word by word): Isaiah is almost EXACTLY the same in the Dead Sea Scrolls as the version we have today (except for a very few letters that don’t change the meaning).
It’s only a myth!
There were so many martyrs… yes, others have died for things they believed in, but the disciples died for something they had actually SEEN. Why would they give their lives if Jesus had only been half dead, or they’d hid His body somewhere, etc.? As St. Paul said, "if Christ be not raised" then our faith is pointless. "If that’s all there is…"
It contradicts itself!
Sharon pointed out a few places where it really looks like the Bible is contradicting itself. But it was easy to see how if you read the verses in context (read all the verses and chapters around it), things can be explained.
When people say "you believe it, because it says it’s true"–that’s called "circular reasoning", and it is really UNhelpful! The scripture passage was 1 Tim. 3:14, where Paul is suggesting that Timothy has "become convinced" of the truth "because you know those from whom you learned it"–in other words, the best translation of the Bible is the way it is lived out in people’s lives. Really, you can’t expect people to just start believing it, just like that! (Of course, the Holy Spirit also helps people to know that it’s true.) *This whole point/section was our favourite–a newish idea for us.*
It’s so hard to understand!
Once you begin to say "Well, OK, I guess it’s possible that all this might be true…", the Holy Spirit will begin to help you understand. And as Mark Twain said: "It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts I do understand."
Walk to Rivendell: It’s COLD. We build a fire under a gnarled pine.