I just don’t believe the Bible. I think the Bible is just like any other book. It is not special. The Bible is full of contractions; that makes it unbelievable. God inspired so much cruelty in the Bible; how could it be a good book to read?
This list could go on and on. Reasons that people reject the Bible as God’s special Word.
So many nonbelievers get “hung up” on the Bible before they even consider their relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul Little says they should be asking “What do you think of Christ?” Instead they are focusing on this question: “What is your view of the Bible?”
Let me get personal.
The Bible is not an easy “read”. I do not tell you that to discourage you. I tell you that to support Paul Little. An unbeliever who is focused on the Bible before making a commitment to Jesus will see the Bible as a real problem, a real stumbling block.
I have been a Bible reader off and on for many years. Off and on reading was not doing me much good. Can a person focus on contradictions and raise personal doubts?
Yes they can.
But look at how an unbeliever approaches the Bible. Not only are they looking for contradiction but they are not allowing God to work in them as they read the Bible. Hint: I never read my Bible today without asking for God to reveal Himself to me in the pages I am about to read. I believe God does that. It makes a big difference.
Off and on reading or reading bits and pieces robs you of the unity that you can see if you engage in concentrated effort to understand God’s Word.
Yes, you can “cherry pick” verses and pinpoint contradictions. Doubters point to Genesis 1:20 where it says that fowl were created out of the waters; Genesis 2:19 alleges they were formed from the ground. What is the “real” story here? The real story is in the use of the words and how we can parse our words and twist meanings. Depending on your translation [mine is the New International] it says that the water “teems” with living creatures [1:20], the birds are an example. Teem is not a word that we use much today; it means bring forth or produce. Genesis 2:19 says that God formed “out of the ground all of the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air.”
What do we have?
What must we do?
Throw out the baby with the bath water.
The Old Testament is a collection of thirty-nine books written between 1450 BC and 400 BC. As you begin to understand the purpose of the Old Testament, you see that it is a story of God’s special relationship with one human family, the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This family became the Jewish people. These special people were God’s people and they were picked to show the world how the worship of God can save all mankind. This was God’s plan to save all men from sin.
Are there contradictions in the Bible? I would imagine so. But when one examines the contradiction examples, they seem pretty minor compared to the overall unity of the text.
But God inspired so much cruelty in the Bible. How can I believe in such a cruel God?
Yes, the Bible is full of instances of the Israelites destroying groups of people. An example is Deuteronomy 2:33-34: “And the Lord our God delivered him over to us; and we defeated him with his sons and all his people. So we captured all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor.”
How can I believe a God who inspires people to do this? The history of this event is in God’s Word.
First of all man’s cruelty is not uncommon today. That’s not an excuse but we are not a perfect people. We kill unjustly today and even in large numbers [Nazi Germany].
Secondly, God expected the Israelites to be a special people, set aside from other peoples. A practical way to prevent intermarriage from occurring was to totally destroy conquered peoples. In the Old Testament the Israelites failed to destroy other people with horrible results [Psalm 106: 34-38] “They did not destroy the peoples as the LORD commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and learned their practices, and served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons…”
Thirdly, God demanded obedience and if He said destroy a people, He meant it. The Old Testament is full of examples of people who refused God’s direct command. God spoke through Joshua to the people telling them to not have pity on the people of Canaan and not only destroy the people but destroy their possessions. “But the people of Israel weren’t faithful to the Lord. They didn’t do what they were told to do with the things that had been set apart to Him in a special way to be destroyed. Achan had taken some of those things. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.” [Joshua 7: 1]. Because of this disobedience, the Israelites suffered horrible losses in the next battle.
Today I know I have focused on the Old Testament but Paul Little states the unbeliever should not pick apart the Bible as much as deal with the relationship he or she has with Jesus Christ. “What do you think of Christ?” is the first step, not plunging headlong into a doubter’s reading of the Bible. The New Testament is the story of Jesus, and God’s effort to have a personal relationship with man through the gift of His Son.
It is a different approach at reaching out to man than the Old Testament.
But it is the answer to that question “What do you think of Christ?” that can open up a person today to God’s redeeming grace.
First things first and then the Bible will mean so much more.