Strands of Thought

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The Bible - A True Story But Not Factual

The statement below is precisely why the book Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?, which was mentioned yesterday, needed to be written. This is one of many reasons for the need of such a book!

The Bible is a true story but not always factual. The truth of the Bible doesn't come from the facts of the stories, but rather from the spiritual meaning of those stories. The true ideas the Bible teaches have little to do with history, geology, or any matters of the natural world, but have everything to do with the spiritual world and the things that really matter in our lives.

Amos Glenn, MINemergent: A Daily Communique (March 27, 2012)

Questions: What do you think of this statement? Where does it get it all wrong? If someone were to say that to you about the Bible, how would you respond?

This sort of understanding of the Bible was common among liberals. But now this description of the Bible is on the lips and pens of those who call themselves Evangelicals. (I do not know if Glenn identifies as an Evangelical or not.) The Evangelical understanding of the Bible is that it is inerrant in faith and practice, history and science. And it is important to know/remember, this is the historical position of the church!

A humble forewarning. It is likely that someone will claim an archaeological discovery that will call into question some aspect of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This is part of the popular media’s “liturgy” in light of the church celebrations (particularly Christmas and Easter). It is also quite likely that some pastor/preacher/teacher/leader will respond by saying that if the bones of Jesus were found, if it was determined that Jesus never rose from the dead, it would not change one aspect of his/her faith.

This is absolutely ludicrous. In fact, Paul bases his argument for the Christian faith, the gospel, on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. Paul writes (1 Corinthians 15:14-19),

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ . . . For if the dead are not raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Paul will not allow this nonsense of having a true, biblical faith apart from the literal and physical death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who claim that an unresurrected Christ would not affect their faith indicates they have no true saving faith at all. Because “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20), those “unbelieving Christians” (Christians by title or profession, but not in reality or confession), are most of all to be pitied.

Greg Strand

Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.

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