Let me give our scientific friends a thought; in the scientific field of physics, the Holy Grail quest is to find a theorem to unify all the fields of physics and natural law, to tie all of these scientific statements of facts such as gravity, things measured, and things observed together in one neat package. Sound easy? Well, all of these fact-based sciences contradict one another, and sometimes even themselves! This would include quantum mechanics, Newtonian law and string theory, to Einstein's relativity. This quest is call the "Unified Field Theory." Some of the brightest minds that have ever existed, such as Steven Hawking and Einstein himself, spent all of their professional lives in search of it, but no one can find it. Why is this important or relevant? Because, all those disciplines of science "facts" contradict one another! The Bible does not; and it was written over a 1,500-year period of time. Even Shakespeare, author of the greatest English works of literature of all time, does not come close! So, we can take a confident look into God's Word to see what the Bible says about itself!
Why should we listen to a Book? Why is the Bible to be our authority for faith and practice-for life? Because, God tells us so! God is the author and has given it to us so we can, as the Army says, "be all you can be!" So, again, some would ask, why should we heed this instruction; what right does the Bible have to rule over us? Well, it does not rule over us; God, as Creator, has chosen His right to exercise divine guidance and authority, and has given us the institutions in written form, the Bible. As it is "God breathed," the Bible is the only infallible, authoritative truth we have; thus it is true in all that it says and what God requires of us. The Bible is actually the voice of God to His children-us. Thus, because He is God and we are not, we should, we must, submit to His authority through His Word. He has the right to command, and we are his troops called to proclaim His glory.
On the dark side, we must be aware that many people, including some Christian leaders, misuse the Bible for their own gain and pronounce their authority into it. The Reformers freed the Bible from the captivity of those who would not allow her pages to be read. We have to remember that the Bible can never say what it does not, or mean what it does not. Yet so many replace the truth of His Word with human lies, manipulation, and deception. We must free the Bible from those who dare tread their will upon its pages, and hide its truth for self-gain and self-gratification. We must claim God's Word for what it is, His Word, His authority, and His right to command and teach us.
So, what about all the objections?
There are three primary objections to the Bible. They all fall under the premise that people generally do not want to venture into it because of a fear of being convicted. I had a good friend who was a committed Christian who said he did not like to read the Bible. His fear was he would be convicted to become a missionary in a far off place and be miserable. I told him that God would never call you to something that you are not gifted and suited for and that if he did indeed receive a call to go to Outer Mongolia (his greatest fear); he would also have the burning desire and the gifts to go there. But, we like to cover up our fears of being convicted with arguments of reason and logic. That is to say, if we can prove our point, we do not have to listen to it. If we can put down the Bible, then we can elevate ourselves, so we can think and do as we please. We do not need to be convicted by a book that is untrue. As for my friend, he dove into the Bible, and learned all that he could. What I find so funny is, he ended up in Russia, and he loved it!
First: The objection that the Bible is full of contradictions and myths.
As did so many others, I set out early in my liberal-mind-set life to prove that the Bible was full of contradictions. I majored in Psychology and Comparative Religions in a secular University to prove the Bible's irrelevance. I believed that all religions were the same-as my professors taught. So, I looked and looked, read all of the "scholarly" books that refute the Bible, and came to the conclusion that there are no real contradictions in the Word of God. And, believe me I tried hard to find them. There are none! I had to rethink my theology, and go from a "wrong" flaming liberal to being a down "right" conservative!
So, when somebody tells me that the Bible is full of contradictions, I politely ask them to show me. Most of the time, they get louder in their objections (as I once did) but provide me with no examples of contradictions. When there is a verse or passage that they feel is a contradiction, we look it up and discover it was either out of its context, or just not there. You may not have the expertise and savvy to answer such objections; that is OK! I get stumped occasionally and have to research it. That is why there are so many good books out there on Apologetics, such as Josh McDowell's "Evidence that Demands a Verdict." We have lots of great links for apologetic websites on our Links channel.
Second: The Bible is too difficult to understand.
This was my first objection. I became a Christian and tried to read the Bible and I was stuck. I did not understand it. I found it confusing. And, I was no idiot; in fact, I was taking graduate courses in Nuclear Theory, Relative Field Theory, and Quantum Mechanics. I was 16 at the time (yes I was an egghead- geek), and the Bible was mysterious to me. The Bible I was reading was the one my Grandmother gave me at my confirmation. It was a beautiful leather Bible with very thin parchment. The text font was very small and you could see the back side almost as well as the front. It was also the King James Version. The combination of antiquated language, small print, and paper that was hard to read compounded with my dyslexia caused an unreadable document. No wonder I found it difficult. Then, a friend gave me the "Good News" Bible and the words and precepts flowed like a well-written, exciting novel. However, for years I refused to read the Good News Bible or any translation that to me did not look like a "real" Bible.
The objection I have heard over the years is, "the Bible is for pastors; I just do not understand it". When I ask them to tell me about the Bible that they are reading, I find as it was as with me, that the translation is too old and the print too small. And, sometimes they start with Revelation, and get confused. Yes, there are parts of the Bible that are hard to understand, but over 95% is as crystal clear as the daily newspaper. So, if you can read the newspaper, you can read the Bible!
Third: The Bible is boring.
This always dumbfounds me. The Bible is filled with stories of wonder and excitement. What grand Hollywood epic has more special effects than Genesis or Exodus? What TV soap opera has more excitement, sex, and betrayal than that of Judges? What novel have you read that has the elements of passion, wonder, crime, betrayal, lust, remorse, and heroism, with deep philosophy and truth? Shakespeare himself said he could never top the Bible; no one ever has; no one ever will. So, if you find the Bible boring, then life and death are boring. The excitement of love and the remorse of death are of no consequence. There has never been anything in all of human history that has so much for so many. The fears, struggles, problems, and solutions that the Bible characters face are what we face. They may not have had a flashing 12:00 on their VCR, but all that there is in life that matters, such as relationships, life, death, and the pursuit of life is what they had, and is what we have and deal with daily, too. The Bible is alive and incredibly exciting; if you find it boring, then switch to a better translation, and reboot your attitude.
There are three forces that pound and tear at the foundation of a growing Christian: pride, laziness, and dishonesty. And, the result of those three is usually the lack of motivation. I struggle with it. Sometimes I just do not feel like reading the Bible or even getting out of bed, and I am a pastor, and the director of a ministry that promotes Bible reading. Yet, we all can be besieged with the lack of desire. That is when we need to drop to our knees in prayer and seek His face!
There is also a labor factor that is required for any endeavor, and the Bible is no different than any other reading. To read a novel, you have to first be willing to sacrifice the money to go buy it, then set aside precious time for its reading, and then gather the necessary effort to be able to begin. Then, after all that expense, time, and effort, you still need to remain committed so you will be able to finish it. It is the same with the Bible!
As for study, well, study is even more labor intensive. So, when we fail to get into His Word, it is more of an unwillingness to work at it. Are you committed to a magazine or a novel? Is the time and effort put forth for People or Hot Rod the same as for your devotions? How much time do you spend watching TV? Did you know that half of a sitcom is 15 minutes, and all it takes is 15 minutes a day for you to read though the entire Bible in a year?
The above objections are mere excuses that cloak us from responsibility. Our fallen nature is to be lazy and seek the easy way out, and it will get in the way of being His disciple more than any other hindrance we could ever face. Even in the mist of harsh persecution, the Bible and Christian growth flourishes. I used to sneak Bibles into Russia, and would see hunger for the Word as I never have felt or seen personally-in others or myself. Now, the long iron curtain has fallen and we are training those once hungry Christians to teach the Bible. Do you have that hunger to know His Word? If not, what is stopping you? With me, it was pride and the thought that I already knew it!
It is when we are comfortable and complacent that our lack of willingness clouds us from growing in our Lord. The problem is our neglect, not the Bible!
© 2004 originally titled "Why Should We Study the Bible," 1991, revised 2001, 2004 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/