What will we do if there are informational inaccuracies in that book we hold so dear? What if the Bible is not an instructional manual for the Christian life at all? What if it is instead a compilation of literature meant to be wrestled with. What if it is meant to keep our faith unsettled in our quest for maturity? What if its only intent is its end, Jesus and his gospel?
For most of my life I have defended this book as the Truth, and I still do, but I am abruptly beginning to recognize that my defense of its words means something totally different than it used to.
I think that there is good reason for my revisit of my feelings for the Word. In fact, I think until we of western culture are able to do so, we will continue to observe an exodus of our younger generation from a willingness to hear the truth of Scripture.
I asked a young man just yesterday, “Why will you not even consider your grandparent’s faith?” He answered my interrogation with a single word, “Science.”
In an effort to familiarize myself with a generation that has grown beyond the history and science of the Bible, and for arguable reasons I might add, I sought to read behind someone who once lived in a box like mine, someone who had to give up a lot to venture into a very awkward world.
Peter Enns, author of “The Bible Tells Me So… Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable To Read It,” is one such who lost status and career to evaluate the missing archaeological evidence of early Israelite history. His own claim is to keep an open mind, as archaeology is uncovering more and more each day, while being willing to work with what we have to face the challenges of this generation.
As to date, the stones have not cried out in support of two-million Jews leaving Egypt and wandering in a desert for a human lifespan. Once again, this is not to say that by human limitations we simply haven’t uncovered them yet, but that it is profitable to ask the hard question, “What if these things are only mythos?”
By that Mr. Enns means, “What if, like every other nation, Israel created an exaggerated account of their history to lift their God above all other gods?”
The discomfort I experienced while reading this book, and even more so in writing this post, reveals my struggle to step outside the comfort of my Baptist walls. At the heart of the author’s writing though is the desire for the reconciliation of truth and reality. Can we trust the Bible if its historical narrative is inaccurate?
In this book, the author demands an affirmative ‘yes.’ He does so by weaving his readers through the inconsistencies and walking us beside Jesus’ and the New Testament authors’ use of Israel’s history, the Old Testament. Through our Lord’s words and his disciple’s writings, Mr. Enns claims that the Bible ‘decenters itself.’ He writes:
The Bible doesn’t say, “Look at me!” It says, “Look through me.”
He insists the Bible’s role is to encourage the faithful to live in its pages in order to look up from its pages and, by the power and love of the Spirit of God, see Jesus, who is God’s final word.
The methodology of reading Scripture as the story it intends to be, according to the author, with its entire focus on Jesus, rather than Israel, lessens the need for historical accuracy, leaving an able God to work through the frailty of His image-bearers.
I am far from ready to board this ship of thought entirely without regard of keeping a foot on familiar soil, but it indeed has given food for serious thought, especially as I have opportunity to speak to my younger friends who refuse to write the realm of proven science off because the Bible tells me so.