Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘is the bible reliable’

Myths, Lies and Good News

BRIAN WILLIAMSThe uproar surrounding NBC News anchor Brian Williams is not a national emergency.  There are many avenues for getting your news these days, and  there are just about as many glamorous, aspiring celebrities who are eager to deliver it. But the fact that the highly regarded journalist has been suspended for six months for fabricating stories and exaggerating details of his assignments provides the church with a teachable moment.

As you surely know by now, Williams blamed “the fog of memory” when soldiers challenged his account of being shot down in a military helicopter while visiting an army outpost.  When he offered an apology and a correction, he insisted he witnessed the crash from a following chopper, except that wasn’t true either.  By the time sources in New Orleans began to accuse him of lying about his experiences during Hurricane Katrina, officials at NBC had no choice but to try and salvage the credibility of their news division by penalizing such blatant dishonesty.

Nobody ever accused Williams of getting actual stories of combat wrong.  And there is no evidence that his coverage of storm damage along the Gulf Coast was not factual.  Rather, the details he exaggerated and falsified were mostly about his personal experience in covering such calamities: being shot down upon arrival or seeing a corpse floating behind his hotel. But if a reporter cannot be trusted to be sober and factual about his personal accounting, how can one be sure he is not fictionalizing details to make the news more colorful as well?

Those of us who follow Jesus Christ should keep this in mind whenever we are tempted to take the bait and write off parts of the Bible as “mythical” or “enhanced for dramatic effect.” Making excuses for controversial scriptures has become so common today that even people I respect have begun to drift towards that slippery slope:

  • One popular Christian writer has now conceded it’s possible the first three chapters of Genesis are mythical rather than historic. Perhaps Adam and Eve weren’t real, the thesis goes, but there’s still meaning to be found in the myth.
  • Others suggest that Daniel was actually written hundreds of years later, meaning there were no amazing prophecies at all; no lion’s den, either.  But the message can still be motivating, or so they say.
  • Then there are those who suggest that the four gospels are filled with errors because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were simply human beings who got things wrong due to “the fog of memory.”  But that’s only human, right?

The shocking downfall of Brian Williams reminds us all: the message has no credibility if the messenger is unreliable. Assuming the Bible may contain mythical elements, fabricated miracles, and errors of memory will not make the cross of Christ more appealing to secular men and women. Neither will it make the existence of God seem more likely to atheists. But it will leave lost people with more doubts than ever.  Did Jesus really die and walk out of the tomb alive, or is the church just a marketplace for false guilt and fairy tales? If it’s all about mythology, why not just call the Psychic Hotline, catch the highlights from your horoscope, and reserve your Sunday mornings for golf?

Lift up the cross!


Genesis Without Sunglasses

TROPICAL SUNRISEYou don’t have to visit Africa or Australia to experience a different world.  Just return to the Book of Genesis and take off your sunglasses!  I’m serious!  The mysteries and the majesty of the first book in the Bible can stop you in your tracks and take your breath away- unless you insist on seeing everything through a set of colored lenses! Here’s what I’m talking about:

  • Some people visit Genesis to prove their faith.  They have points to make, details to argue, and skeptics to defeat, so they read this amazing book looking only for debate points.  It’s all about measuring the intensity of commitment.
  • Other people come to Genesis to discount it.  They are certain that scientific advances have left the accounts of creation in a shambles, but they still hunger for some reassurance from Scripture.  They want to respect the accounts of Genesis, just not believe them.

This year, go for a completely different experience: read Genesis just to see what God has to say.  Don’t worry about how long the days are; just concentrate on how big the Lord is!  Don’t be distracted by what Dawkins or Hawking might say.  Listen for a few minutes to what God says.

  • Read the very first verse; then stop and take a deep breath.  The heavens and the earth are all there and you’re only one verse in!  Be still and reflect on the spectacular content of just those ten words.
  • Then read the next verse and imagine what that might look like: a lonely planet submerged in water; and the Spirit of God cutting through the darkness and hovering just over the surface as he does his work.

Genesis devotes only two chapters to creation; fourteen to one period in the life of a young Hebrew named Joseph.  God is clearly not going to great lengths to tell us how the world was made or how mankind came to be.  Instead, he wants to tell us why.  I have been reading the first eleven chapters of Genesis over and over again for the last three months, trying to forget everything I ever heard and listen only to what God wants to say.  No exaggeration– I am awestruck like never before. I cannot stop thinking about it.

My challenge to my friends: in 2014, take off your shades and read the first eleven chapters of Genesis.  You might see the beginning of time like you’ve never seen in before!  Who knows, when the light comes on, you might even see God.

Lift up the Cross!

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