Why Continue to Defend Christianity if Most Academics Deny the Veracity of the Bible?

Paul Tambrino, EdD, PhD

Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino


Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.

Question #53 – Why Continue to Defend Christianity if Most Academics Deny the Veracity of the Bible?

 

I will be among the first to admit that apologetics will never save anyone; for such is the work of God alone.

Yet, like Saint Peter, I am also convinced that we need to frontally address the growing non-belief (especially in American academia) with apposite, that is pertinent or appropriate arguments. “All Christians need to be prepared to give an answer or defense when someone asks them the reason for the hope that they have.”

Peter, in his first epistle, wrote in part, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).

It’s a verse that should motivate us to be prepared to give answers in defense of our faith.

Peter does not say the job of defending the faith is only for pastors. All Christians need to be prepared to give an answer or defense when someone asks them the reason for the hope that they have.

Almost sixty years ago, the October 1965 issue of Time magazine carried a story about a trend among 1960s theologians to write God out of the field of theology.

God was dead according to Thomas J. J. Altizer of Emory University, William Hamilton of Colgate Rochester Divinity School, and Paul van Buren of Temple University.

And so these theologians played right into the hands of the secular humanists and tried to construct a theology without God; a secular humanist theology wherein man’s inordinate desire is to be god.“Pride is the antithesis of faith.”

In today’s academic world there are “professors of religion” like Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina) and Elaine Pagels (Princeton) and others who have picked up that torch, and unfortunately have access to the defenseless minds of young college students.

Firstly, they argue the Bible is fiction because the book of Esther contains no ritual or other Jewish religious practices.

I guess they must have skipped those passages that speak of the Jewish people responding to the lethal decree of the king by fasting.

This fasting implies their belief in and reliance upon God. If the Jewish people had no hope of surviving, why would they fast? They would eat drink and be merry for tomorrow they die. This was no time for Esther and her maidens to go on a crash diet!

Ehrman, in his most recent blog argues the Bible can’t be accurate because of conflicting stories in Mark and Matthew. To wit Ehrman notes in Mark (5:22-24; 35-43) a man named Jairus comes to Jesus and tells him that his daughter is very sick.“Points of agreement of worldwide stories concerning creation, the flood (and even concerning the Tower of Babel) are confirmations of what one would expect to find and support that which is recorded in Scripture.”

They head to Jairus’s house, are unexpectedly delayed, and before they arrive, she dies. Jesus tells Jairus not to fear and He raises the girl from the dead.

But in Matthew (Matthew 9:18-26), Jairus comes up to Jesus and informs Him his daughter has already died. He would like Jesus to come raise her from the dead.

So Ehrman asks which version is right; either the girl was already dead when her father came to Jesus, or not.

Interestingly Ehrman ignores Luke’s account (8:41, 42; 49-56) where the story is more detailed and answers that question.

Jarius begs Jesus to come to his house because his daughter is dying. Then someone tells Jarius not to bother Jesus because his daughter is dead.

Secondly, in a contradictory fashion these “unbelieving biblical theologians” will attack the Bible on the grounds that there are no accounts outside the Bible of certain stories.

Concerning the book of Esther, their primary argument for the book being fiction rests on the point that secular history contains no record of a Jewish queen in Persia.“In a culture that has become almost experientially oriented, there has never been a greater need for the eternal verities of God’s word. “

But, since Esther could not reveal her nationality, why would there be a record, outside of the Bible, of a Jewish Queen in Persia?

Or they will point out that there is no record of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents outside the Bible. They note that Josephus does not “specifically” record the slaughter of the innocents.

Yet Paul Maier notes Josephus wrote for a Greco-Roman audience, which would have little concern for infant deaths since Greeks regularly practiced infanticide as a kind of birth control.

Thirdly, when there are records in other cultures that contain similarities to such stores in Scripture, as the creation story and the flood story (especially as recorded in the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic), these scholars then conclude that Scripture merely copied them.

They ignore the fact that these points of agreement of worldwide stories concerning creation, the flood (and even concerning the Tower of Babel) are confirmations of what one would expect to find and support that which is recorded in Scripture.

So then why do these liberal academic “theologians” deny the validity of Scripture?

Clearly, I would argue this is another result of the secular humanists push for self exaltation.

Pride is the antithesis of faith. They deny any supernatural reality, and therefore are anthropocentric in that there is no higher end to pursue than that which human beings find worthwhile.

Therefore, “Man becomes the measure of all things” (Protagoras). We prefer to live the words of Frank Sinatra’s song, “I Did It My Way.” We want to be the captains of our souls, the masters of our fates.

Therefore in a culture that has become almost experientially oriented, there has never been a greater need for the eternal verities of God’s word.

And so, I and others, will continue to frontally address the assault by these academic secular humanists with the great truths of the historic biblical faith.

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