This is just a thought, not fully (well?) developed…
I am becoming more and more convinced that one of the critical issues for the American/Evangelical church over the next number of years is the issue of whether or not we can trust the Bible. Truth is, this is always a critical issue, and it has been a constant topic of conversation in the church and academy for a long, long, long while. Still, I think we will be facing this question increasingly on a more personal, local level as some of the truths we find in Scripture are simply unpopular in the world immediately around us. None of that should surprise us. But it don’t make it easy. That reality ought to drive us back to the Word of God and figure out whether we really believe it, and are willing to follow it.
With that, many will first ask the question of whether or not the Bible is true, and whether we can trust that the content and the books of the Bible as true and factual records of what Jesus and His disciples said. That is a good, paramount question. And, there are many books and resources that can help you with that question. For example, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one.
That said, I suggest asking an additional (and also foundational) question about Scripture. That question is; “Is it beautiful?” Is the Bible attractive? Is the Bible compelling? Is the Bible good and life-giving? This is not a question of printing and binding, but a question of whether or not what the Bible says about God and life in this world is compelling and attractive and beautiful.
Is the Bible’s vision of marriage… a man and a woman united in incredible, exclusive, lifelong intimacy, devoted to sacrificial love and service… is that beautiful?
Is the Bible’s vision of community…. people united together around mutual adoration of a loving God, where no one lacks any need, where people are forgiven for mistakes, where people minister to one another out of their excess, where people call out to those who stray, where people teach and encourage one another in the grace and Word of God… is that compelling?
Is the Bible’s vision of leadership… where authority doesn’t dominate but serve for the good of those under its care… is that attractive?
Is the Bible’s vision of work… where work isn’t ultimately about a paycheck (though that is important) or simply gaining a superior’s approval, but about fulfillment in service to a good God who calls us to be fruitful with the abilities He has graciously given us… is that attractive?
Is the Bible’s vision of spiritual life… where spirituality is not founded upon rigorous regimented routine, but a love relationship to a God of grace, who compels AND empowers us through His Spirit to joyfully devote our lives to Him… is that compelling?
Is the Bible’s vision of God… where God is not a distant and removed figure making impossible and harsh demands upon His people, continually drawing life and sacrifice from His creation, nor where God is a kind therapist who wants what is best for us but has no real capacity to bring it about, subject to and wrestling with the whims of the world as He is…. but rather where God is both transcendent and intimate, powerful and relational, and has created us not to be dominated by Him, but to live and rule by His side as His disciples and His adopted family forever, and He accomplishes this goal for us by sending Himself, the Son, into the world to die for us… He is a God that uses His power to sacrifice on our behalf so that we might benefit greater than we deserve… is that not beautiful?
I do think God’s Word, and God’s story about this world, is pretty darn glorious. What do you think?