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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Bible as History — 8 Comments

  1. I was educated at Avondale College in the sciences, with Chemistry and Physics as my majors. The science students formed a close bond with one another and we consequently looked down on lesser students who studied the arts and theology. Most of the banter was good fun but we had an underlying feeling that the sciences were where knowledge was alive and growing, whereas history and theology were old and static. In my penultimate year of undergraduate studies I took the compulsory Bible subject, "Christian Evidences", taught by a lecturer, Russell Kranz, who had a lot of experience with talking about theology to secular minds. During that year of study, I came to realise that science was more than just chemicals, reactions and measurement as I was introduced to the philosophy of science and the history of human thought. I came to appreciate the importance of history and how it underscores our faith and beliefs. It was a challenging class and I look back on it now as one of the most formative years in my Christian experience. (It was where I was introduced to C S Lewis's "Mere Christianity" and C A Coulson's Science and Christian Belief. Both books are still in my library and the pages have turned brown through use. Carmel saw me pick up my copy of "Mere Christianity" this week and told me that I had better buy a new one as this one was looking like me - decrepit with the passage of time!)

    Our lesson this week has focused on history as it relates to the Bible, and I know that for some of us it has been a challenge because we have had to think outside the box. Some have expressed concern that such study has little to do with our faith. Fair enough, but I like to remind myself that meeting and interacting with people is also faith challenging. Many of the people I interact with have no spiritual faith at all. Finding the language that gives them an insight into the love and compassion of Jesus is the greatest challenge of all. The study of how we have arrived in the 21st Century and still believe that Christianity, and by inference, the Bible is totally relevant today is important and is corroborated by history, archaeology and science in spite of the challenges.

    • I also attended Avondale, where I took the course "History and Philosophy of Science" with Dr Magnusson, Dr Draper and others. It was perhaps the most impactful course of my years there, as it opened me to the links between science and faith. I still believe science is the most reliable and progressive source of knowledge for humans, and that ancient texts such and the Bible contain wisdom and values that are universal and beneficial.

      However, I no longer accept the belief that the Bible is free from historical or scientific error. At best, it reflects the refined and God-honoring knowledge of the ancient Israelites and Christians. At worst, its physical worldview, sense of history, and social practices no longer accord with our modern understanding. We need to understand the Bible as it was written, to whom it was written, and the many benefits of its moral teachings.

      It is neither one-size-fits all nor all-must-fit the same shoe.

      • Drs Magnusson and Draper were, of course, my main teachers during my years at Avondale. Both men had the knack of challenging us with the question, "Have you ever thought about the issue this way?" I remember, with some clarity, the topics of discussion as Dr Draper ferried us to our London BSc examinations which were held in Sydney at that time. Those conversations still power my thinking about the tough questions of faith and science. I saw Dr Draper fairly recently. My daughter is his optometrist.

  2. Yes, Maurice - the aspect of our Scripture's historicity can be "corroborated by history, archaelology and science", but not its devinely endowed Faith-aspect.
    Ignoring or dismissing this all important Faith-aspect deminishes the Scripture to the level of just another religious angle or account of mankind's history devised by men, and dismiss it as myth.

    This existential, overarching and all encompassing demand to use Faith to the exclusion of all else to be the 'tool' to 'unlock' the secrets of its Faith-based message is too much to accept by the mind of the secular scientist and many others.

    It is God's expressed Will and Design that we shall accept Him and His message by Faith. The Fall caused us to become flesh, but God is Spirit.
    Faith is the Gift of His Holy Spirit as a down-payment to assure us of His Presence with us throughout all of men's history and future.
    The more we use our God-given Faith, the more He reveals His omni-presence to us.

    Only God's Holy Spirit can unlock and guide us to understand His mysteries and cause us to walk in His Light.

  3. I may repeat myself on this, but for me, science tells me that I need EXPERIENCE to learn! And my experience with the Word of God is personal! Take my experience away from me and I will have no connection to anything. As in any subject, the Word of God has to be individually "tested"! I really doubt that anyone who ever try this hard (with whole heart) will be disapointed with the Word of God! The seeker of TRUTH who looks into the Word of God with a strong desire will find LIGHT, KNOWLEDGE, PEACE and LOVE! We do not need to be convinced, we need a better change! For me, personally, to have the heart converted to Christ means that, although I am free to try anything, I know deep inside that nothing can fulfill my heart better than HIM! That's a FACT for ME! And that does not mean I am better than anyone, it only means that I found what I was looking for!

  4. Thank you all for a very lively week of study and discussion. Your thoughts and comments inspire me as I get ready for the SSS lesson tomorrow morning.
    Happy Sabbath all!!

  5. I was talking to a man last Sabbath who believed Faith from the original is none other then Trust in God. Looking at it that way, we are gifted Trust in God. Therfore, a Trust in God is the Gift of His Holy Spirit as a down-payment to assure us of His Presence with us throughout all of men's history and future.
    The more we use our God-given Trust in God, the more He reveals His omni-presence to us. Makes sense to me.
    Yes happy Sabbath all.


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