The following is another excerpt from the ongoing discussion in my e-mail group.  I’m just telling you so you’ll understand some of the personal asides.

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As for whether or not emotion/belief can enter the equation in a historical-critical approach, that is the question of the ages.  That type of analysis is unfortunately in my DNA at this point.  If someone doesn’t know what it is, I suggest they leave it alone. 

The bible is built to exclude proof, and there is a big difference between proof and evidence.  It’s unfortunate, especially in terms of evangelism, when someone leans on evidence and calls it proof that God exists or that the bible is valid.  Hebrews 11.1 gives what I believe is the most accurate summary of the utility of scripture.  Faith is the evidence and substance.  The words “evidence” and “substance” are unduly placed above the word “faith,” so much so that the point is missed.  The point is that logic, science, and on and on, can only take you so far and eventually you’ll have to depend on faith—an intangible, unprovable anomaly against which there is no logic.  Evidence leads you to a conclusion, but doesn’t prove it. The bible is set up so that if you ever prove God exists, you disprove God’s existence (if the bible is 100% true), and rightly so.  It’s well set up because without “belief” there can be no loyalty, and without faith there can be no belief.  If it could be proven, I think it would be easier for people to turn away from God. 

So here’s the leap I have a hard time with: once all the data has been collected, analyzed, marinated, and lain on the table, can I say I buy it?  That is such a personal decision because it’s vulnerable, uneducated, illogical, unreasonable, and unlike any decision we have ever made or will make.  According to scripture (Psalms, Song of Songs, et al), God knows all of those adjectives.  It’s admitted that that type of wisdom is inhuman.

 So here’s the poison in historical-critical analysis, the “evidence” doesn’t point to most of the things we’ve learned in Sunday school.  Nothing really points to any of the names called writers of the books.  The earliest copies of any NT book dates to about the 6th century.  Messing with copies was so rampant that the writer of Revelation even warned against changing “jots” and “tittles.”  Many of the OT instances of disaster have natural parallels.  The mistakes are near tragic levels even in manuscripts considered early.  The list continues . . . 

When all those things enter the picture, they really mess with my ability to make a leap I once made without hesitation.  It’s just not as easy anymore.  That’s what’s so personal about it.  Everyone has point to where they can walk on facts and then everyone – without fail – everyone has to make a leap over what is for some a ditch, for some a creek, and for others a chasm.  What was at one time, for me, a ditch now looks more like a chasm. 

Here’s what I can believe (and yes, Daniel, you’ve nailed it, belief and analysis are separate discussions):

  1. God is real: Logic is on God’s side—easily.  I’ve seen the stats for the lottery and March bracketology.  As unbelievable as they are they pale in comparison to the stats on a random occurrence that happens to bring about the universe as a result.
  2. Scripture is not invalid: whether Matthew wrote Matthew, seas were parted, the Earth was created in six days, or not makes no difference.  In it there is so much to learn.
  3. For Christianity to be a guide, the bible, tradition, and logic must work in concert: where one fails another steps in.  

From there I don’t know where to go.  Will I be back to the ditch-jump or will I be comfortable trying to jump the chasm or will I ever jump?  Again, this isn’t about a belief in God.  It’s about the bible’s place in my life. 

I’m still able to find comfort in this, if God is what we think God is, the bible doesn’t have to be accurate, mistake-free, or even true.  This is the biggest question of my life, so far: if someone could prove to me that the bible is completely inaccurate, would I still believe in God? 

I still say yes.

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