The Bible Tells Me So, or not

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.”

TBTMSIn 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.


About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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19 Responses to The Bible Tells Me So, or not

  1. Pingback: Enns and His Misbehaving Bible | Resting in His Grace

  2. Joi Stepps says:

    Then what would be the human manual the creator would give to his creation? I tend to agree with cbutler1137. You hit it my sister

  3. chicagoja says:

    There’s no doubt that the Bible and science disagree on certain important matters, the date of First Man being one of them. More importantly, perhaps, is that Egyptian and Mesopotamian records paint a different picture of history than the Bible. Many historians actually believe that the Genesis and flood stories of the Bible were borrowed from much older Sumerian texts. The interesting twist to that perspective is that the Hebrews (Abraham’s family) were once Sumerians themselves. Since most of the Old Testament is based on oral tradition, the source of that oral tradition would then be Sumerian. The Hebrew Zohar and Talmud both reflect key information that agrees with the Sumerian texts with respect to the Genesis story. The Sumerian’s “Seven Tablets of Creation” outline how the universe was created. That story is told on the first six tablets (the six “days” of creation of Genesis) and the seventh tablet was for praising the gods (the Sabbath). However, this kind of information usually falls on deaf ears because people already believe that they know the truth. Perhaps, that’s what Jesus meant about having eyes to see and ears to hear.

    • mtsweat says:

      Yes, there has been much contention, really always. It is a fine line between keeping an open mind and merely entertaining every suggestion that comes along, and there are many. As some have stated here, caution should be in place always, for we are easily distracted from what is important to spend too much time on the unknowable. My intent in reading this book and in sharing here is really focused only on trying to understand a different generation who has every whim of thought readily attainable with the click of a keystroke. In fairness, and probably mostly because I am a book-aholic, I could not resist the suggestion from one com-mentor here to pick up one of Iain Provan’s books… I’ve just settled into it, but it will be interesting to hear the other side of the aisle’s offering also. Thanks for the thoughts and hope your day is blessed.

  4. I encourage you to tread with caution where archaeology is concerned. Archaeology itself is a subjective discipline. When an archaeologist uncovers an artifact he/she enters into the world of interpretation. An artifact cannot speak so many things are inferred upon it. Plus, every archaeologist has his/her own agenda. None of us are without preconceived notions or certain beliefs, atheist or Christian. It comes down to the question, Do we believe in the inspiration of Scripture or not?

    I’m not trying to be harsh. I’ve just been in Christian universities where even the very authorship of the biblical books is questioned and where discussions of biblical inconsistencies abound. To say that there are inaccuracies in Scripture is to say that it is not inspired because God is not inaccurate. I do not say this because I’m not informed of the other arguments, but rather because I am, indeed, informed. I’ve seen your posts and read your questions. I agree that we should examine what we believe. I think it is unwise to believe everything we’re taught. But everything we do, read, think, and examine should lead us closer to God. I’ve changed some of my views on certain things I was taught growing up, but it is Scripture that provides guidance and the Holy Spirit at work within us. It is also important to remember that the first century Christians (and even Jesus Himself) appealed to the Scriptures (what we call the OT writings). If they believed that these Scriptures were for their instruction, why would we question this?

    There’s nothing wrong with trying to understand this generation’s focus on science, but if we fall into it, how are we being light in this dark world? To remove Scripture from its historical context or to question the historical accuracy is to really question the context itself. How can we trust that God really did what’s written if we question the accuracy? I say all of this as food for thought, not out of malice or any such thing. Also, I recommend reading A Biblical History of Israel by Iain Provan, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III. It’s an academic read, but it is clearly written and full of great arguments and discussions. I read most of this book for a History of Israel course, and it’s truly fantastic. Also, it’s separated into different segments (patriarchal period, judges, united monarchy, divided monarchy, etc.) so you don’t have to read it all at once. Anyways, I hope you consider it and that you have a great day!

    • mtsweat says:

      Thank you for your very concerned comments, and the resources recommended also. No, I don’t see myself abandoning the inspiration of Scripture anytime soon, only, as you note, being prepared to speak to those with differing views. As I have experienced, it will not do to simply repeat what once worked well, “The Bible tells me so.” We would know what that means and why we say it, but we live among those influenced by a modern agenda with social media contributing to every aspect of our lives. I will check out the reads you offer… and thanks again.

    • mtsweat says:

      At your suggestion and with a little research, and because your title is yet available in E-book (or at least at Amazon), I for now have taken on Provan’s “Seriously Dangerous Religion.” Thanks again.

  5. Kathy says:

    Great post, great message and food for thought! Thanks for sharing.

    I like the post; the ads, however, don’t fit the venue…..Maybe you don’t pick them? “Incredible celeb bodies, dumb celebs, crop top bop….” and more…. Just thought I would bring it to your attention.


    • mtsweat says:

      Thank you for the encouragement and, no, we do not pick the ads. Sorry, and I do wish we had that privilege. Or, at least, that WP would place ads that rightly accompany the content of the post. Oh well, as a friend tells me, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Thanks again…blessings.

  6. ccragamuffin says:

    Perhaps it is a wise thing to occasionally examine our own souls and determine if we are worshipping the Bible or the God of the Bible. If bible-idolatry takes our eyes off of the Only Perfect Word of God Jesus, then your ponderings sound an important warning. I hope you will share more of what Peter Enns has to say.

    • mtsweat says:

      I do want to share more of this write, and probably will do so. There are of course branches of our faith that will write this author off as beyond the pale, even touching the borders of heresy. Is it wrong though to wrestle with understanding the truth? The question being discussed, regarding the historicity of the Bible, is whether God spoke verbatim through His chosen authors, or did He strategically unfold His story, as inconvenient and disturbing as it may be, through the writings of fallible and exaggerating humanity? “All culminating in God’s final Word, Jesus.” Which brings another point of interest to surface; the humanity of Jesus. Was he, prior to His resurrection, just like (minus the sin) every other Jewish person living in that day? Did he stub his toe? Did he make mistakes on math quizzes (yes, I know). Did he have a limited knowledge in the sciences? That strikes me as striking… the One who made everything and by Him everything remains in existence could no longer tell us the molecular makeup of water?

      The author really does a great job of illustrating how different it would have been for people living then to remotely understand what we know now with a short story about IPhones. Imagine trying to explain to Bell what his invention has become today… in his day. There, we would only be talking decades, but to get into the minds of those living thousands of years ago is borderline impossible. Still, we can know something of their mindset, and more importantly, that they were prone to explain the happenings around them as acts of gods. We would agree with a sense of this, (with only one God), but not as they did. Anyway, as confessed, I’m not ready to step onto that field with bat and ball, but I do think it is worthy to understand what so many of our younger generation are being influenced by and be prepared to converse with them. Please pray that this young man I have the privilege of communicating with will find his mind and heart opened to the gospel truth.

  7. lucinda408 says:

    appetite to read this book

  8. cbutler1137 says:

    My biblical proof is that I know the spirit in me, I hear the voice of the Almighty God for myself, I’ve seen spiritual manifestation for myself, I’ve seen miracles.

    His proof is in me

    • mtsweat says:

      I confess I have spent periods of the last 24 hours mulling over your words, and think that probably was still insufficient time to rightly return response, but I’ll take a stab. You are incredibly and absolutely correct. The surest evidence will always be a changed and empowered life. Without these the Bible is simply a story book no different than all other literature, but where the Spirit lives, Jesus is given his rightful place of Lord and Savior. Blessings.

    • Jim says:

      While I appreciate the sentiment of what you are saying, it leaves much to be said. I’m sure you probably recognize that Mormons say the same thing. So do JW’s. I have heard many, many Muslim converts use this same argument to prove Islam and I have heard converts to Judaism say the same thing.

      Few of us would say that Christians, Jews and Muslim all have the same book!

      I would say that a changed life is evidence that something has changed, but it is not indisputable proof that the reason behind the change is that one has access to God’s eternal truth or to his authentic book.

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