A Case for the Bible: Part 1, Introduction
(This blog is part of a series. You can start the series by going back to the September 1, 2014 Introduction called A Case for Christianity: Why do we need one?)
“My own experience teaching a class of new college freshman every year for the past 15 years suggests to me that although students 15 years ago knew little about the Bible upon entering my classes, today’s students on average know even less about the Bible.” -Kenneth Berding, New Testament Professor
Is there an epidemic of Biblical Illiteracy?
Of Americans polled nationwide beliefs about the Bible seem to be as follows:
Barna Research Group Poll Questions:
- Sacredness of the Bible: Percent of people who believe that the Bible is a holy book. Age Responses: 45+ = 90%; 26–44 = 81%; 18–25 = 67%
- Biblical accuracy: Percent of people who believe that the Bible is accurate on all accounts. Age Responses: 65+ = 58%; 45-64 = 46%; 26-44 = 39%; 18-25 = 35%
- Universalism of the Bible: Percent of people who believe that the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other “so-called” holy books. Age Responses: 65+ = 33%; 26-64 = 40%; 18-25 = 56%
- Bible appetite: Percent of people who say they have the desire to gain Bible knowledge. Age Responses: 65+ = 9%; 45-64 = 12%; 18-44 = 19%
When did doubts about Christianity and the Bible begin? Norm Geisler, quoting another survey said of those polled:
- 40% said middle school
- 44% said high school
That’s 84% who had doubts by high school
- 11% said doubts began in college.
This accounts for departure in college, but the seeds were planted early on, college seems to only reinforce the doubts.
“What can we do?” says Geisler, “Stop entertaining and start training!”
Another recent poll reported by MSN news shows that the new third largest category of religious identity worldwide (after Christians 31.5% and Muslims 23.2%) is the unaffiliated group at 16.3% this overtook Hindus at 15%. The unaffiliated group represents all those who profess no religion from atheists and agnostics to people with spiritual beliefs but no link to any established faith.
Recently I was watching a game show called “Cash Cab” (it is based in New York and the contestants are randomly picked up in a cab to answer question for cash prizes while in route to their destination). The young twenty-something gal and guy in the cab were very bright, answering all the questions with intelligence and accuracy, but then the host asked this one: “Name one of the four Gospel writers.” The couple looked at each other for what seemed to be a very long time, both with blank expressions, they had no idea. They asked for a ‘shout out,’ which means you can pull over and ask someone on the street. The man they stopped on the street thought for a moment and then said, with not a lot of confidence, “try John,” which of course was correct. What was so sad is not that they did not know the answer, it was more the attitude of not caring that they didn’t know the answer. It appears to me that the reason for this trend stems from the relativistic-postmodern idea that objective truth, particularly religious truth, cannot be known and that the Bible is just another mythological book among all the other so-called holy books. In my view there seems to be a growing feeling of skepticism that real answers to life’s most important questions cannot be known and this has resulted in the “whatever” attitude that permeates many young people in our culture today.
Why would most people, including Christians, turn away from reading and studying a book (the Bible) that professes to have answers to the most important questions about life? Is it possible that there are misconceptions out there, especially at the academic level, about the validity of the Bible and God’s inspiration of it? What if there was actually more evidence in favor of the historicity, reliability and accuracy of the transmission of the Bible than any other book of antiquity? What if these sixty-six individual books of the Bible, that were written over a span of about fifteen hundred years by various authors, came together so cohesively and contained one major theme woven through each of them? What if there were undeniably accurate prophecy fulfillments evidenced in the Bible’s history, especially concerning the person of Jesus? Would you consider taking a shot (maybe one more time) at reading and studying it? These questions are worth pondering because if it turns out that theses things are true, and we can prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, then there are huge implications for this life and beyond. If true then I believe we can say with confidence that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
“Christians used to be known as ‘people of one book.’ They memorized it, meditated on it, talked about it and taught it to others. We don’t do that anymore, and in a very real sense we’re starving ourselves to death.” -Berding
Join us next week as we begin to examine the historical literary evidence for the reliability of the Bible.
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. –1 Timothy 4:1
Let me know what you think: What is the reason that so many people are not reading or studying the Bible today? Does it matter?
Over the next several blogs I am going to continue to present logical reasoning and sound evidence not found in the public school textbooks.
Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord.
1 Peter 3:15