How should we approach the Bible?

When Oswalt summarizes James Barr and Brevvard Childs who claim “if the historical basis on which the supposed revelation rested was false, then why should we give any special credence to the ideas resting on that basis” (Oswalt, 31), he gives the perfect wording to what is already known. When we look at the Bible, in order for the theology for it to be correct, it is necessary to be grounded in reality and truth. In the situation of the Bible the history is important because through the historical narratives of the Old Testament, we learn about the character of God. Through the story of Joshua and his following the direction of God, we learn about following the directions of God even when one can’t understand His instructions. The story of Adam & Eve is the basis for all of life. The Garden of Eden gives one an understanding of man’s rebellion, why there is evil in the world, the nature of spiritual warfare, and the faithfulness and redemption of God. These two examples of the historical narrative that are portrayed show the theological characteristics of God that get displayed elsewhere in the Bible. In the event that the historical narratives of the Old Testament are not true, it brings challenges to the character of God thereby discrediting the rest of the text that deals specifically with the theology of God.

Also, in regards to the New Testament, even though the majority of the New Testament comes in the form of letters which are theological in nature, their theology rests on the teaching of Jesus and the Old Testament narratives and prophets. When Paul tells Timothy that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful” (2 Timothy 3:16) he is likely referring primarily to the Old Testament (and possibly parts of the New Testament that might be floating around at that time). Therefore, if the basis on which the Bible is built is false, the whole Bible Bible should be considered false as well.

Although the theological basis should not be trusted if false, there are going to be people who want to use the Bible despite thinking it is false. Although I would say it is not useful for theology in that case, they could use it like one would use any other myth or fable. While it might help for a time, it is like using a Band-aid to patch a canon ball hole, It ends up being wholly inadequate for those purposes. The Bible is not meant to be a feel good story to help with small troubles in ones life. It is meant to be the solution to man’s problem, the problem of sin, and without the basis for sin (coming from the Old Testament), the Bible cannot complete the purpose for which it was given. The purpose of saving lives for eternity.


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