Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hath God Said?


Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time. 

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.” 

And so, I thought, the Anvil of God’s Word
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.
~Attributed to John Clifford 

When an unbeliever denies the inspiration of scripture he usually parrots quite a laundry list of reasons to disbelieve. I’d like to take a quick look at some of them.  

Typically near the top of the list is the notion that the Bible is full of contradictions and errors. Yet, when pressed for specifics, in my experience, the non-believer knows precious little about the Bible and thus is long on assertions but short on demonstrations. 

The fact is the Church is well aware of apparent inconsistencies and textual problems and more than sufficiently deals with such things.  

Often we hear the charge that the Bible is utterly sexist, racist, and violent. And certainly, we can find all of these things in the sacred writ—these things and I’m sure more. But here the detractor of the faith fails to distinguish between that which the Bible describes and that which the Bible prescribes. (The distinction between description and prescription cannot be overstated.)  

Occasionally an unbeliever offers an objection to the sacredness of scripture by pointing out that all the world's belief systems share certain fundamental truths—that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, etc.—thus undermining the Bible as being uniquely revealed.  

But there is simply no logical reason to deny that the Bible is God’s word on the basis that there is a degree of commonality between it and other religious (and even secular) texts. A measure of similarity is precisely what one should expect given that there is but one living and true God who created the universe and all it contains and who made man a rational, moral being in His own image. 

This being so, I would go so far as to suggest that it would be unimaginably strange, perhaps inconceivable, for there to be little or no shared views between scripture and extra-biblical writings. 

While it is clearly the case that the Bible is written to and for God’s people, the skeptic nevertheless has an invested, self-interest in undermining its divine design. We are now speaking to the issue of authority 

The one who denies the holiness of the Bible becomes—in his lofty imagination—his own ultimate authority, the final arbiter of truth. That is, the unbeliever jettisons ancient faith anchored in scripture for nouveau fancy tethered to self.  

This is hardly progress.

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