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On the Bible as a ‘Good Book’
Is the Bible a good book? Do you really think so?
Many folks (perhaps you are among them) with whom I speak tend to question the idea of whether Jonah was ever really swallowed by a great fish. Others whom I know rather doubt the doctrine of a literal, seven-solar-days creation week. And I am personally acquainted with a fine, upright, selfless, totally moral man who balks at the concept of a real hell.
Yet this same man (a friendly neighbor) often refers to the Bible as ‘The Good Book’. “Well, you know what the Good Book says,” he often remarks in conversation.
“Wait a minute!”, I’ll say, “Why do you call it ‘The Good Book’? How can it be a good book if it isn’t a truthful book?”
Have you ever carefully thought about that? If the Bible, considered critically and with common sense, doesn’t mean what it seems to mean, or if it in fact at times even presents misleading information on subjects like science and history, then it is certainly not a very reliable Book. And if it is not reliable, in what sense is it good?
To put it another way, if the Bible isn’t reliable in every area to which it speaks, it really becomes a major source of suspicion in every area to which it speaks. If the Bible is suspect in one area, it necessarily, automatically becomes suspect in all areas. Otherwise one enters into an entirely subjective exercise of pointless speculation: what is true and what is not true? who knows? who will decide which parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally and which passages are intended only to reflect ‘spiritual truth’?
The happy fact is, many of us (folks of all ages, economic-social status, and educational attainment) have found it both intellectually possible and logically preferable to be Biblical literalists, i.e. if the plain sense makes common sense, why seek some other sense? Since the Bible has always been totally reliable in every area where the facts are self-evident, why not assume it to be trustworthy in areas where the facts are not yet self-evident or scientifically demonstrable?
For instance, on a subject such as earth origins, since no scientist was present when the Universe came into being, and because science can neither repeat nor verify ANY of the given theories as to how it all happened, why shouldn’t we give God the benefit of the doubt and accept His Word about what happened at face value?
Whenever there appears to be a conflict between what God says in Scripture and what men presently think to be true (in any area of life), we consider it first of all incumbent on MAN to go back to the drawing board. Should push come to shove, Romans 3:4 says: “…let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…”
Well-known author and speaker Josh McDowell was once challenged by a skeptical history professor who clearly considered it naive (maybe even stupid) to regard the New Testament as being truly, historically reliable. McDowell looked at the professor and said, “Tell me, sir, as a historian, what are the tests that you apply to any piece of literature of history to determine if it’s accurate or reliable?”
When the professor stood speechless, obviously unable to supply even one such criterion of his own, McDowell proceeded to propose three tests: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test. He then effectively demonstrated how the Bible measures up to all three tests far more favorably than any other comparable historical document known to man.
Is the Bible reliable? Absolutely. Is the Bible a good Book? You bet. But not just in a loose, colloquial sense. Demonstrably, evidentially so.