I had recently run into a spate of cartoons that mocked the belief in a personal God. Most of these cartoons mock the Christians strong attachment to the Bible. And, there is no doubt why doubters would go for the Bible angle.
The backbone of the classic Protestant Christian faith is one of Sola Scriptura. It is also here that most people that were "raised in a Christian home" falls away from their faith. They don't first stop believing in Jesus. They first stop believing in the Scriptures.
I have heard and read countless number of accounts that once a person reads the scriptures with an open mind, all the contradictions in the scripture come to a head, and it causes them to abandon their faith.
"After all, the Bible is the Word Of God, and if it is the Word of God, it has to be perfect. Yet the Bible is full of errors, therefore, the Christian faith cannot be right."
We Christian often pull this problem right onto ourselves. I have gone to many a sermon where the pastor holds up his Bible and says, "I am preaching the Word of God."
However, the Bible is not the Word of God. The Bible points to the word of God. The Bible is the scriptures. The Scriptures (or the Holy Writ) explains the nature of God and points us to God.
The Bible is a sign. The Bible is not a destination. I wish that we Christians would redouble our efforts to make sure that the two things are separated: The Word Of God and The Scriptures. The scriptures is what we classically call the Bible. The Scriptures tell us enough about the Word of God so that we can get to the Word of God. There is only one Word of God, the Logos, or better known to the English speaking tribe as Jesus.
We we are supposed to worship the Logos. Yet, we often worship the Bible, and woe to us for doing such an action. Now, when you are reading this, you probably think that I'm being a bit harsh. Am I just thinly dividing a thin line? How can we study the Scriptures and not know Jesus.
Let's see what the Lord says:
John 5:38-40 (New International Version)
38...nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Tough to make it any more clear. The only reason to study the scripture is to get a better feeling of what the Christ is like. Scripture does not save. It only points to salvation.
The scripture translated, copied and handed down through the ages does not glow. It will have questions about a sentence there and a count of people there. However, if you read the book and look for a high degree of integrity, you will find it. It is like no other book. It is more than sufficient to do what is supposed to do: Lead you to salvation.
The scriptures were laid down like a highway from long ago. If we were exploring together, and we found this highway that had been built and abandoned, but was in very good shape, we could quickly identify it as something that had been done by a grand engineer. As we might take our jeep on this highway, it would allow us to drive quickly efficiently to where we wanted to go. We would recognize that somebody, somewhere had spent many hours designing and constructing this road. By studying the road, we would get to know the designer. More than this, once we got onto the road, we would be able to go places quickly.
However, the non-Christian sees our highway that we use so often, and they call the designer into doubt. "Look at mile market 23," they will say. "At mile marker 23, it is missing bumper turtles. If this road was truly made by the grand engineer, then it wouldn't be missing any bumper turtles." They could spend all day showing you the little things that were wrong with the road. They could show you all the "conflicting errors" in the traffic flow.
Well who did make the highway (or Bible). They would explain to you that it popped out trails that were made by the local towns people. That these roads just sort of grew over time. For the Old Road, they would say that there were four main designers: JEPD. They look at the highway very carefully, and they believe that they can find different color stones in the concrete.
However, a view of comparative literature just makes this laughable. To make the Bible contradict science, the atheist has to strain at the smallest knit. Mind you, there are miracles, but miracles are not logical inconsistency or obvious errors.
"Well the Bible says the Earth was made in 7 days," they'll say.
No, this is clearly a reference to seven eras.
"Well the Bible talks about the four corners of the earth," they'll say.
No, this is clearly poetic license.
Other than the story of the world being flooded, which is highly problematic (and obviously sent to test our faith) the path to reconcile science and scriptures is trivial. If I ever leave the Christian faith, it'll be of the lack of evidence of a global flood. However, the rest of the scriptures are so friendly to science that I overlook one area to have access to the others.
I hope someday I am surprised with clear geographical evidence for the flood.
Yet, this is not where the non-believer attacks. Instead, they try and say that all of the scriptures have deep issues. A matter of fact, they might even say that they can see the individuals that fabricated the Bible. "Everywhere a stone changes colors, we believe that we have a new writer," they announce. There are four major types of stones, thus four major creators of the highway.
In this analogy, the Bible is like that Highway. Most of us never got to see the structure laid down. We are viewing the Bible or the highway after many years of use. Certain parts of the scriptural highway may have been patched by man. However, if you stand back and look at the Highway, there is no doubt that whole of the Bible hangs together. Sure, are there small gaps? Are there some difficult scriptures. Sure, but there is no doubt that those that use the Highway get directly to where they want to go.
The belief of inerrancy applies to this. To be an inerrantist, like myself, you believe that the highway was laided down by many different authors over many years. Each section of highway is complete in itself. Now, each section may be of its own flavor and texture, but each small section of road is laid end to end perfectly. Even though many people did different parts of the road, each of them laid down a perfect section.
Now, from the day that the road was constructed, perhaps a couple of flaws or inconsistancies have appeared. However, there is no doubt to what the road does or where it is going. The roads were perfect as laid down, and they vary little to none from the original.