Tuesday, April 21, 2009


For the Life of the World arrived in today's mail. Most of it was, in one sense or another, connected to apologetics. One of the authors, writing on whether we can trust the gospels as historical accounts, says that Christians are not required "to presuppose the inerrancy and divine origin of the Gospels" but are invited to "examine their veracity simply as records of ancient history."

I like what the article said about how the Scriptures stand up as verifiable historical documents. But what bothers me is statements such as, "Christians who ignore such challenges [to the reliability of the Gospels] typically turn inward, relying on an existential experience with their own personal Jesus."

"Their own personal Jesus" could be a reference to some mushy, ethereal concept of some God-like essence thing. And such "turning inward" can be no comfort, no certainty, no surety at all. But often I hear similar statements which say derogatorily that Christians shouldn't have to rely on faith to "prove" the truth of the Gospels, but that we know the Gospels to be reliable because of historical cross-references and an objective view of the historical documents.

I think Christians know the Gospels are true because "sheep know the voice of their Shepherd." Yes, it's circular reasoning. But this isn't about reasoning. This is about blindness and light. This is about the deaf being cured to hear the voice of the Savior.

It is the Gospel which creates faith. Those who have been drawn to Jesus, the blind who now see, the deaf who now hear -- they trust in the Son of God, they recognize His voice, and they know the Scriptures to be true.

One summer, we saw both Othello and Cymbeline at APT. Although one is a comedy and one a tragedy, what struck me is that both stories were heavily predicated upon how easy it is for trust to be broken and how hard it is to restore trust ... and how "proofs" of trustworthiness do not ever convince the one who is doubting. Okay, now, these stories were about relationships between husbands and wives, and not about religious faith. But the premise holds true in both places.

What history tells us about the gospels will never convince someone to be a Christian. Christians already know the Scriptures to be true, simply because they know Jesus, and the Gospels are His words and His acts. So what is achieved by "proving" the historical veracity of the documents? Well, other than Christians being able to say, "Ooooooh! Way cool! This is so neat! Well, of course, it had to be..."?

1 comment:

  1. I was listening to a God Whisperers and they started talking about apologetics. Donofrio maintained that apologetics really didn't do much for nonbelievers, but strengthened the faith of believers. Cwirla said actually he sees apologetics as Destructive. They don't strengthen actual faith (except in as much as God's Word strengthen's faith), but they do serve to destroy the voices of nagging doubt that attack. They help address some of the issues that create doubt and give a plausible answer to them.

    I thougth Cwirla made an interesting point, and I think I tend to agree with him more. However, C.S. Lewis would probably debate both of them on whether or not the Holy Spirit also used the Holy Spirit to bring him to faith..