Saturday, August 12, 2006

What do you believe?

Here's my response to my brother's recent blogs on the reliability of Scripture, etc. You can see his blogs at Steel Snow Flake
For further information on this topic, see Answers to Questions, a collection of evidence supporting the inspiration of Scripture.

"Why couldn't Mary Jo have been driving the car? Why couldn't she have let me off, and driven to the ferry herself and made a wrong turn?" (Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking of Mary Jo Kopechne, victim at Chappaquiddick, Saturday July 19, 1969)

It's obvious why Senator Kennedy would want his version of the Chappaquiddick story to be told. He wanted to show himself in the best light possible. But what did the Disciples have to gain by making up a story about Christ's Resurrection? And if they really were revising the facts, why wouldn't they airbrush their own images, as Senator Kennedy did? Why would Matthew leave in the fact that he used to be a tax collector?

How can we know these eyewitness accounts are reliable? Josh McDowell answers this question by saying:

"The early Church generally taught that the first Gospel composed was that of Matthew, which would place us still closer to the time of Christ. This evidence leads us to believe that the first three Gospels were all composed within 30 years from the time these events occurred, a time when unfriendly eyewitnesses were still living who could contradict their testimony if was not accurate."

So maybe the Jewish eyewitnesses would have raised an uproar if Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John had added too many glamorous things in about themselves. But what caused them to leave in embarrassing accounts that no non-disciple would have known? Why do the Gospel writers tell about Peter and the rooster crowing?

Instead of belaboring the point further, I'll just summarize why I hold the Bible as my ultimate source of truth (these reasons are by no means unique to me):

1) The Gospels harmonize; they complement one another, and yet have different vocabularies and approaches, indicating a variety of authors who saw and described the same thing.
2) Archaeological finds and many extrabiblical accounts are consistent with Biblical writings. The historical setting revealed in Scripture is consistent with what we've found out through digs and studying ancient literature. (For example, John 19:23 reads "When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom."
(For extrabiblical accounts which describe Jesus, see this link.)

3) Scripture portrays its writers as ordinary men; it even includes their sins and "foibles." There is no evidence that it whitewashes history.

Even Jesus' clothes confirm the area that he lived in: "Most garments of the region were made of woven strips of material that were about eight inches wide and included decorative braids from two to four inches wide. The garments could be disassembled and the strips of cloth were frequently recycled. A single garment might hold sections of many different dates. However, in Damascus and Bethlehem cloth was woven on wider looms, some Damascene being 40 inches wide. Traditional Bethlehem cloth is striped like pyjama material. [5] It would thus appear that Jesus' " seamless robe " was made of cloth from either Bethlehem or Damascus. " (Reference.

On the other hand, if I begin to doubt the scriptures, what do I stand to gain? If I begin to doubt that Jesus' birth was prophesied thousands of years ahead of time, if I begin to doubt that He really was born to a Jewish virgin, if I begin to doubt His death, His resurrection, or His role in inspiring the Scripture, what do I stand to gain?

"Freedom" from following what Jesus said.

An article entitled "Does Jesus Exist" (which is at this link) states: "Jesus alone is the way to Eternal Life, Salvation, and union with God. But aren't such beliefs rather bigoted and narrow-minded? Quite the contrary, Jesus and His life and teachings are absolutely universal, open to all men, and are anything but "narrow-minded" or "bigoted."

It goes on: "Why did the religious leaders of His Own people reject Him?
Jesus' message that all the people had to do was to simply "love god with all their heart, and love their neighbor as themselves" (Matthew 22:37-39), liberated them from the dictatorial stranglehold and contrl that their religious leaders held over them."

2 Peter 1:12-21
�12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

�16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." [a]18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

�19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

(Picture Credit: Iris

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