by Tim Chaffey
Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to share about the importance of trusting the Bible from beginning to end with a group of believers. While several of these people were moved by what I had said, some comments were rather discouraging. First, I will summarize what I shared and then I will share a comment that I heard from one of these believers.
I began by asking whether or not it would shake one's faith if they found out that science has conclusively shown that Daniel (from the Bible) never existed. This didn't seem to bother them so I read Matthew 24: 15 in which Jesus refers to Daniel as a prophet and obviously, an historical person. Now when I asked if it would shake their faith a few more responded that it would. After all, if Jesus believed Daniel was a real person and he wasn't, then Jesus would have been mistaken. If He was mistaken then He could not have been the Savior who died for our sins - He would have needed to die for His own (a lie). I repeated this same approach with the story of Jonah and the great fish and heard similar responses.
Next, I compared this to what often happens in the church regarding the Genesis account of creation. After all, scientists have allegedly demonstrated that the earth is so much older than the Bible teaches. Rather than questioning the "science" too many believers have decided to reinterpret the Bible to say that it allows for an ancient earth. Every one of these compromise views creates numerous theological difficulties as illustrated in our Other Views article. Just as Jesus referred to Daniel and Jonah, He also quoted the Genesis account of creation in Matthew 19: 4 - 5 (see also Mark 10: 4). In these verses He stated that the creation of Adam and Eve took place "at the beginning." Was Jesus mistaken? If one believes the earth is much older than 6,000 years then Jesus must have been wrong. As Christians, we believe that Jesus could not have been mistaken because He is God and it is "impossible" for Him to lie (Heb. 6: 18). It logically follows that Christians should believe that the earth is only thousands of years old.
After this discussion I was approached by a godly man who told me that he had a blind faith and it would not matter at all to him if the Bible had been proven wrong. I have no doubts about this man's sincerity and his passion for the Lord. Unfortunately, this approach has been adopted by far too many Christians - especially in recent times. After all, the Lord did command believers to love Him with the heart, soul, strength, and mind (Mark 12: 30).
Not only does this "mindless" approach disobey Christ's teaching it fosters a dangerous approach to Scripture. If the Bible is God's Word then it cannot be mistaken in any area whether it is referring to morality, ethics, history, science, or theology.
The problem is that too many Christians have been led to believe that Christianity is all about their emotions. To summarize this issue in a very general manner I need to quote Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman at the well. He said, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and truth" (John 4: 24). I understand that what I am about to write is not exactly what Jesus was getting at but it might help you understand my point.
Try viewing one's approach to God on a spectrum. For some, it's all about emotion and others its all about facts. We might call the two ends of the spectrum "spirit" (emotions) and "truth" (facts). Those on the extreme end of the "spirit" side care little about worshiping God with the mind. They view the "truth" side as cold orthodoxy - a religious experience that makes little difference in one's life and brings little or no joy or peace. Those on the extreme end of the "truth" side are so concerned about getting it right that they neglect to spend time putting their beliefs into practice. Both sides have some validity but the river of truth runs between the banks of both extremes.
What started as a reaction against the cold orthodoxy of some mainstream denominations has snowballed into an experience driven approach to Christianity. Believers are tossed to and fro upon the waves of today's latest fad in Christendom. There is a glaring lack of discernment in the body of Christ because believers have not been trained to think biblically (or sadly, to think at all!). Believers are not able to answer some of the most basic objections to their faith. As a result, unbelievers scoff at Christians for their ignorance and sometimes, these untrained believers begin to doubt God and His Word.
How can we survive this mindless approach to the faith? For starters, we need to understand that God expects us to use our minds. We can look at the example of the Apostle Paul. When he entered a city, he would first go to the synagogue and reason with the Jews. He showed them from the Old Testament that Jesus was their Messiah. He was able to reason with the Epicureans and Stoics on Mars Hill in Athens. Obviously, Paul was incredibly gifted and few, if any, Christians are on his level when it comes to mental ability. Nevertheless, we are expected to be ready to give an answer to those who ask us the reason for the hope that we have and we are to do that with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3: 15). To accomplish this, we need to start thinking well and thinking biblically.
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