Hard Questions About the Bible

Archive for January, 2012

Is it Wrong to Question the Bible?

Christian churches believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God.  If you go to a church, but you have doubts whether the Bible is really true or not, you might be hesitant to express those doubts.  After all, church is like any other group, you feel a need to fit in and so you might not want to ‘stir up any trouble’ by asking hard questions.

The problem with this is, that if you have nagging doubts whether the Bible is true or not, it would naturally follow that you would have a hard time accepting what the Bible teaches.  After all, if the Bible is not true, you don’t have to follow all those rules, like the Ten Commandments, right?

I used to think that I should not question the Bible, until I read Acts 17:11.

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”.  They didn’t just blindly accept what the apostle Paul was saying, they studied the scriptures (in their time, the Old Testament) to see if it was true.

I think many people have questions about the truth of the Bible, especially in a culture that believes that the Bible is full of myths and legends.  If you have those kinds of doubts, your faith can only grow so much.  But I’ve found that if you have questions, and are able to find answers to those questions, your faith can grow bigger.  I’ve also found that many of the questions I had, were answered by just reading the Bible.

If the Bible really is the inspired word of God, it should be able to stand up to any scrutiny or doubt.  Of course, not every question can be answered, because the Bible does not tell every detail about everything.  But if you have questions about the truth of the Bible, try to read, study and seek out other resources like Bible commentaries and radio programs, and ask questions to pastors and fellow Christians.

Next:  The Church vs. Galileo

Christianity is a Crutch

Some people don’t believe in the Bible because they think ‘Christianity is just a crutch’.  The inference is that Christians are weak people who lean on their outdated religion.

Well, my answer is – Christianity is SUPPOSED to be a crutch.  First of all, if we all were completely honest with ourselves, we would admit that we are all weak, at least to a certain extent.  The Bible has many verses that talk about how we should depend on God’s strength, not our own.

Proverbs 3:5-51
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

1 Corinthians 1:25
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Exodus 15:2
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

Isaiah 40:28-31
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Next:  Is it Wrong to Question the Bible?

About Religious Cults

Some people don’t believe in the Bible because they think that people use it to justify bad things that they do.  Let’s look at one of the more famous cults, Jim Jones and The People’s Temple.  My source is Wikipedia.

909 members of The People’s Temple committed suicide in Jonestown, Guyana (South America) in 1978.  Their leader, Jim Jones was a charismatic leader who advocated social change.  He helped to racially integrate churches and other institutions and businesses, and gained political support in Indianapolis and San Francisco.

Jones embraced Communism early in his life, and built Jonestown in the 1970s as a ‘socialist paradise’.  In the early 1970s, Jones began deriding traditional Christianity, rejecting the Bible, and claiming that he was the reincarnation of Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha and Lenin.

In November 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan led a mission to Jonestown to investigate allegations of human rights abuses.  Ryan and some members of his party were killed by Jones’ guards.  Jones preached to his followers that intelligence organizations were conspiring against them.

Later that same day 909 inhabitants of Jonestown, 303 of them children, died of apparent cyanide poisoning by drinking laced juice drink.  It’s hard to understand why so many people could be influenced into committing suicide in such a way, but they were influenced over time by a charismatic, paranoid leader in an isolated environment.

Many followers and political leaders thought of Jones as a good person who did many good things in his lifetime, but he grew increasingly paranoid and his message grew increasingly contradictory to the Bible.

If you research about cults, their leaders usually twist the Bible to serve their own purposes.  The truth of the Bible should not be judged according to the actions or teaching of such people.

If anyone makes a claim about the Bible that doesn’t sound right, you should check it out, with the guidance of knowledgeable resources, including pastors, churches, articles, books, commentaries, radio programs, etc.  But the best way I can think of to determine the truth of the Bible is to read it for yourself.

Next:  Christianity is a Crutch

Christmas in America

Have you ever wondered why the picture of traditional Christmas celebrations – a warm cozy home, fireplace glowing, snow outside the windows, Christmas tree with decorations and presents, is so different from the scene of desert town with the birth of the baby Jesus in a manger?

It’s not just different climate or geography.  My sources are History.com and Wikipedia.

Christmas celebrations actually began in the 4th century in Rome when the early church tried to adapt and transform pagan celebrations.  The early celebrations were raucous festivals.  Christmas wasn’t really celebrated in America until the 1800s, during a time of class conflict, high unemployment and rioting.

Two writers, Washington Irving and Charles Dickens, changed the way people thought about Christmas.  Irving wrote ‘The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent’ in 1819.  In it was a story of an English squire who invited peasants into his home for Christmas holiday.  It was a warm picture of rich and poor coming together despite differences in social status.

Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’, published in 1843.  The secular story about the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, and the message of charity and good will toward men struck a powerful chord in the U.S. and England.

Americans began to embrace Christmas as the perfect family holiday, and looked to immigrants and the church to see how the day should be celebrated.

In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition that included many different customs, like decorating trees, family dinners, seasonal food, sending greeting cards and giving gifts.  Christmas was declared a U.S. Federal holiday in 1870, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.

Next: About  Religious Cults

Origins of Christmas – Santa Claus

Some people believe that the Bible is full of myths and legends.  One reason may be confusion over ideas about Christmas, like Santa Claus.  My source is Wikipedia.

The original inspiration for Santa Claus is probably Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Greek Christian Bishop who lived in what is now Turkey.  He was famous for giving gifts to the poor.

Another influence may be the German pagan god Odin, who was celebrated during the pagan festival of Yule in December.  He was believed to lead a great hunting party in the sky, riding an 8-legged horse (inspiration for the eight reindeer).  Children would fill their boots with treats for Odin’s horse, and leave them near the chimney, in return they would find gifts or candy.

In Northern Europe, Saint Nicholas was called Sinterklaas.  He was supposed to arrive each November by steam boat, with a book listing good and naughty children.  During the next weeks, following from Odin, he was believed to ride a horse over the rooftops at night, delivering gifts through the chimney to the well-behaved children.  Sinterklaas was depicted as a stately, serious elderly man with white hair and long beard, wearing a red cape over a bishop’s robe.

Many modern attributes of Santa come from the poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823, including the sleigh, bag full of toys, the eight tiny reindeer and even their names, and the description of the ‘jolly old elf’.

Santa’s home in the North Pole may have originated in cartoons by the American political cartoonist Thomas Nast in the 1860s.

The picture of Santa most people are familiar with, a portly old man with white beard, red suit with with white fur trim, originated from Puck Magazine covers in the early 1900s, and was firmly established by illustrations in Coca Cola Christmas advertisements from the 1930s.

While the inspiration for Santa Claus may have been a Christian bishop, it is not from the Bible, and is not connected to Christ’s birth.  The story of Saint Nicholas was twisted in so many ways to become the Santa we know today.

Next: Christmas in America