Thursday, September 24, 2015

ELI5: How Do We Know That the Bible is Real?

I recently received this question from a young person, and quickly came to the realization that possibly the most difficult thing for me to do is articulate massive concepts in simple language. Even adults have a hard time understanding me sometimes, and this is something I am working on changing. I very much appreciate the opportunity to introduce a new series I will be calling "Explain Like I'm Five" or in reddit lingo, "ELI5". These will be real theology questions from people who will remain unnamed, but I want to share these and encourage anyone to ask me questions for this series, especially on behalf of young people. If you have a question you would like to see answered in this format, please leave an anonymous comment here.

"My question is how do we know that the bible is real and not just a book that a couple of guys put together?"

In a very real sense, it is a collection of books that a bunch of guys put together. What we believe about the Bible is that it was written by people who were inspired by God and faithfully recorded what they believed about God.

The people that wrote the Old Testament were called the "Hebrews" and they wrote about other cultures of their time. Even cultures we knew nothing about until 200 years ago! These civilizations were entirely forgotten, but the Hebrews were not forgotten. Because this "Testament" was preserved, the knowledge of the Hebrew people survived even though their homeland was destroyed and their leaders were banished. One thing we learned after discovering these forgotten civilizations is that many of the Bible's stories turned out to be "borrowed" from other civilizations and rejiggered to make radical new points about the nature of our God.

The Bible is a record of many things that can be hard to understand, and Jesus offered a fresh, new way to read scripture that convicted the leaders of his day and ultimately led to his crucifixion. By practicing what Jesus said, we allow God to transform us from the inside out. How do we know it is inspired by God? We don't know for certain, but as Christians, we trust Jesus. I read the Bible to learn what people believed about Jesus, but I trust Jesus because I have been transformed by the words of Jesus and have seen others transformed by them. Millions around the world have been transformed by them too.

The Good Muslim

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Gaza, and he fell among terrorists, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.

Now by chance a Christian was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Jew, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Muslim, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on antiseptic. Then he put him in his car and brought him to a hospital and took care of him. And the next day he took out two hundred dollars and gave it to the medic, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of terrorists?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”