Let me clarify one thing. I’m not writing these posts about the Bible because I think someone who believes it is a myth will be reasoned into changing his mind. It’s clear to me that spiritual truth is discerned spiritually. Someone who says God doesn’t exist is going to find plausible alternatives that explain away the evidences of God. So too, the evidences that point to the Bible being true.
Why then am I taking the time to write these posts?
I think Christians who believe in the Bible are a shrinking number. It’s easy when you hold a minority opinion to start questioning it. And asking questions is good. I’m hoping to provide a starting place where people who are asking can begin to search for answers.
One evidence that the Bible is true is the unity principle, or what some have called the “Consistent Message.” Though the Bible has diverse authors, diverse genres (law, history, poetry, prophecy, letters), diverse reasons for their authors writing, diverse audiences, diverse subject matter, though the Bible as a whole was written across centuries, still there is a clear core theme that runs throughout.
The best way to pinpoint the theme is by quoting a parable Jesus gave close to the end of His earthly ministry:
“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.
“When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
“But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?”
They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.”
In a nutshell, this parable is an outline of the Bible. The Old Testament records the Landowner’s creation and cultivation of His garden, His subletting it and His repeated attempts to receive payment of what He was due. The Gospels record Him sending His Son and the vine-growers putting Him to death. The New Testament letters explain the ramifications of what has happened, and Revelation declares what will happen when the Landowner returns.
People stumble over the Bible for a couple reasons. In some instances, they read the Bible as a list of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not’s.” (Thou shalt pull thy neighbor’s donkey out of a hole, even on Saturday or Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.) Others read it as a list of promises they can hold God to (You said … so now you have to ….) While the Bible contains commands, it is far more than a list of commands. And while the Bible contains promises, these are not cudgels for us to use against God to get what we want. Anyone using the Bible rather than being informed by the Bible, will eventually stumble.
Another group, however, stumbles over the core message. They don’t want to admit that they owe God anything, that He, like the Landowner in Jesus’s parable, is just and right to come asking for payment. They especially don’t want His Son coming around because He will tell His Father everything. So they reject the Son and in so doing, claim the Father is dead too. Now they can brag about being free … as long as the Bible isn’t true. But if it is true, that means there will be a point when God will confront them and judge them.
Dismissing the Bible as myth allows this latter group to live under an illusion. They have a vested interest in discounting the evidences pointing to the Bible as true.
One such evidence is the clear message of sin and redemption stamped on every page. It’s taught through symbols, through ceremonies, through types, through parables, prophecies, sermons, personal testimonies, visions, dreams, historical events, answers to questions, examples … In other words, God saving sinners is what the Bible is about.
For someone who doesn’t want to acknowledge he is a sinner, this message is offensive. For someone who wants to believe he doesn’t need God, this message is offensive. And so, the Bible comes under attack. Dismissing it as inaccurate or unreliable is a form of shooting the messenger … in the same way an earlier generation stoned the prophets.
This post, with some revision, first appeared here in April 2009.