Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Truth Matters

I picked up the book Truth Matters by theologians Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw on the recommendation of a pastor friend of mine. The purpose of this book, subtitled Confident Faith in a Confusing World, is to give the Christian some additional historical background in order to be able to defend their faith with a bit more assuredness. This sounds like a reasonable and worthy goal, but in my view, this book does more harm than good. It doesn't take more than the first few pages to realize that this book was written to counter the claims of a popular author named Bart Ehrman who has written a series of best-sellers debunking the Bible. However, instead of trying to engage in an honest debate or bringing forth their evidence for the validity and trustworthiness of the Bible, they go about a sort of character assassination of Mr. Ehrman. They try to paint him as a buffoon whose points are easily dismissible, trivial quibbles, or obviously baseless.

What passes for logic and reason from the authors' viewpoint is often laughably simplistic, naive, and so full of holes it, in fact, makes the arguments of Ehrman seem all the more valid. Let me give three examples of the approach of this book.

1). "Whenever we engage in an ethical debate of any sort, we are proving by the nature of our conversation that we're in the presence of God. That's just an unavoidable consequence of reason." (pp. 40)

2). "Some critics may believe there are reasons to doubt what we have [in the version of the Bible available today], but there's really not that much to those claims." (pp. 111)

3). "Like it or not, the most reasonable story is the one declared as fact in our Bibles." (pp. 170)

The attitude throughout this book is cavalier, haughty, and disrespectful. While they make a few reasonable points to rebut Ehrman, they are fully condescending with their "there is no way any reasonable person could doubt the Bible in any way ... trust us, we are high-brow academicians."

There are many books available in the area of Christian apologetics. I would say that the vast majority of them that try to go toe-to-toe with agnostics or atheists fail miserably for the simple reason that the existence of God cannot be proven. Neither can the existence of Jesus as a supernatural being who was fully God and fully man who died and was resurrected. There is no logical argument that can be made that is 100%, absolute, and bulletproof. However, there is one point made in the book that I agree with and support to the fullest,

"The challenge for everyone who thinks the Bible is (or even is possibly) inspired by God is to actually read it. Before reading any books that see to call it into question ... read the Bible."