How could we trust the Bible? We can’t trust anyone!
In our first post in this series we argued that we should give the Bible a chance because it claims to be the final word from God on the biggest questions of all: about life, death and God.
But how can we trust anything or any of that claims to be an authority? After Hillsborough, Jimmy Savile and Operation YewTree and the MPs expenses and many more scandals beside, trust in public authority figures is at an all time low.
Only a few weeks ago Theresa May was adamant there would be no snap General Election. And then she calls a snap General Election! We might think this sudden changing of tune might make someone unelectable in the public’s eyes. Yet most people just shrug it off. Theresa May looks set to be returned to office with an even greater majority.
This lack of trust in authority figures has gone hand in hand with the rise in popularity of conspiracy theories. Governments, business and the media, we are told, collaborate in secret in order to keep the public fooled so as to maintain power for themselves. Some conspiracy theories go further and imagine that top-level political and business leaders are actually shape-shifting lizards!
How depressing. We don't really trust authority figures any more. And the church (and admittedly not without reason) - and by association the Bible and even God - are lumped in with this. How could we trust anyone, including the Bible, when it comes to the big questions of life, death and God?
‘Their tongues practise deceit’
Perhaps the first thing to say is that the Bible has sympathy with this. One way the Bible describes humanity is like this:
There is no one righteous, not even one;
There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away
They have together become worthless;
There is no one who does good,
Not even one.’
Their throats are open graves;
Their tongues practise deceit’
The poison of vipers is on their lips’.
(Rom. 3: 10-13)
No one is truly trustworthy, the Bible says. You can’t trust them! Everyone is fundamentally bad. ‘Their tongues practise deceit’. It’s a shocking claim. But maybe our experience suggests it could be true?
How trust really works
One answer is to say that we trust nothing. We’ll stop trusting anything unless we have complete and utter 100% proof of its, or their, reliability.
However, in reality we all trust things without 100% proof or reliability.
Do I know with 100% certainty that an axe-wielding burglar isn't going to break into my home while I’m asleep? No! But do I still go to sleep and leave my children asleep in their beds? Yes. I have enough confidence it won't happen that I can drift off to sleep without giving the terrible idea a moment’s thought!
Do I know with 100% certainty that my car won’t burst into flames next time I start the engine? No. It could happen. Do I still get in it every day? Yes.
In reality we don’t trust things - even with our own lives - because we have 100% proof. Rather, we have more than enough trust or ‘faith’ to get on with life. If we didn't we wouldn't be able to do anything!
Some people will say “But the things that are described in the Bible happened thousands of years ago. The resurrection of Jesus happened, allegedly, 2000 years ago. But I’ve not seen Jesus. No one alive today has. How can I trust something from so long ago?”.
Good question. But do we only trust things when we see them ourselves?
Most people believe that Neil Armstrong and others got to the moon. But very, very few people have actually stood on the moon and seen someone else on the moon!
Most people believe the football scores they hear on the radio - and no one can be at all the games played on a Saturday afternoon to see the goals go in in person.
We all do trust things that we haven't personally seen with our own eyes.
Christians believe the Bible is more than reliable enough
Christians haven’t left their brains at the door. Christians don't trust the Bible because they have 100% absolute cast-iron proof that everything said in it actually happened. But that’s just not how real life works either. We don't have 100% literal certainty about very many things in life. But we trust them more than enough to put our faith in them and get on with life. We believe the Bible is more than reliable enough to bet our whole lives on it.
Why we think the Bible is more than reliable enough will be the subject of our next blog post.