RED FLAG WORDS, ROOT IDEA AND PROBING QUESTIONS
Hey all my good friends out there! I hope your week was as delightful as mine. With Jesus in the center of my life I can appreciate so much all the small things which enrich living.
Speaking of enrichment, many people turn to other things for fulfillment because the image of the Bible to the nonbelieving world has been shaped much more by hearsay than personal inspection and research. Because the Bible is complex and unique, it is often call out-dated, a story, legend or fairytales, and of course error-filled. Such a secular belief consists of nothing being eternal or sacred and therefore man’s ideas are governed by what is happening in the present.
You know you have run into a biblical skeptic if objections involve;
- The Bible’s relevance
- The Bible’s reliability
- The Bible’s authority
When speaking with a biblical skeptic, almost always personal issues play a major role in their unbelief. Often people see suffering in the world and think God either no longer cares or never cared to begin with. Because God doesn’t fit their idea of Him, they reject the Bible.
“The Bible’s credibility also comes under fire because of its audacity: it records supernatural events and claims to be the Word of God. Consequently, a skeptics view of the Bible is vague and confused because he usually relies on hearsay rather than an honest firsthand reading. They have decided that it must be the result of corrupted human authorship and is no more authoritative than any other book on the shelf.”1
So the root idea behind the biblical skeptic is; The Bible is man-made. When dealing with people who are skeptical of the Bible they often use words such as legends/myths/fairytales, literally, and translations (meaning of the Bible). These red flag words can alert you that you are dealing with a biblical skeptic and can be used to clarify objections concerning the Bible’s reliability.
For example, when a skeptic uses the terms legends/myths/fairytales most likely they mean any event in the past that can’t be explained naturalistically (scientifically). “Legends don’t just pop up overnight. They take several generations to develop and to overtake historical fact. It is difficult to pass along a legend as fact when people who witnessed the events are alive to refute it. Jesus’ resurrection is a prime example. Mark wrote his account of the empty tomb only thirty years after Jesus’ crucifixion. The other three Gospels were completed within thirty years after Mark. Plenty of people were alive to dispute the empty tomb but none did (although the Pharisees contrived a story to explain it [Matt. 28: 12-13]). More significantly, Paul repeats a creedal statement about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8 that even staunch Bible critics date to within one to three years after Jesus’ resurrection-no time for a legend to have developed.”1
As for the word “Literally”, a skeptic usually means that a person who reads/takes the bible literally has a simplistic, stiff understanding of the Bible. In other words they are naive or uneducated while “intelligent people” read the Bible with critical “sophistication”. “To read anything accurately, we must read it literally (i.e., according to the context, structure, purpose, and background in which it was written). Informed Christians recognize that the Bible is full of literary devices and figurative language such as metaphor, simile, metonymy, typology, allegory, personification, and so forth. The difference between us and most skeptics...is that we don’t dismiss out of hand the supernatural elements like they do. Just because the content of a passage seems unlikely to modern-day secularists...doesn’t make it figurative.”2 It is a real shame the the history of the Bible with all its credentials have taken a backseat to modern-day secular presumptions.
The last red flag word we need to discuss is the word “translations”. When a skeptic uses this word he/she usually means that today the Bible has many conflicting texts as opposed to the original writings. We need to point out to the skeptic that most accepted Bible translations may differ in paraphrasing, but not in content. And that the translations “relay on the accurate transmission of the Bible from the original languages into English or whatever the receptor language happens to be...Discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls are significant because the scrolls are one thousand years older than manuscripts previously found of the same Old Testament books, yet they are virtually identical to them. This shows clean preservation of content over one thousand years, a powerful example of how carefully the Bible has been transmitted throughout the centuries.”3
Next week we will discuss the probing question and continue with the Bible's reliability. Until then, may our Lord bless you kindly and take care of yourselves!
This week in the night skies; for the northern hemisphere “Tuesday, May 27 Comet 209P/LINEAR, the source of last Saturday morning's meteors, is closest to Earth for the next five days. It was only 13th magnitude as of May 22nd, but if you want to try for it with a large telescope, here are our finder charts. It's south of Leo, crossing Sextans and Crater.”4
For the southern latitudes; “Evening sky on Saturday May 31 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:00 pm ACST in South Australia. Jupiter is above the north-western horizon, Mercury is just above the horizon. The crescent Moon lies between them Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time. At 6:00 pm if you have a level horizon free of obstructions, you can see four bright planets strung out across the sky, Mercury just above the horizon, Jupiter above that, Mars high in the northern sky and Saturn rising in the west.”5
Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012. Pp 97-107. 1-3pg. 39-55.