Read an Excerpt
Faith and Facts Participant's Guide
Is the Bible Bogus?
Eric and Heather, a young couple in their twenties, came to the discussion group because their neighbor Ted invited them.
Ben and Elise get babysitting every week and ride their bikes a few minutes through the neighborhood to attend. Carol, a softspoken woman in her thirties, usually doesn't say much. She prefers to listen. 'I'm just learning from you all,' she frequently says.
Nick and Heather keep things lively with their strong ideas about nearly every topic they've covered, and Peter facilitates the discussions to cover a variety of spiritual topics.
Last week, when they were discussing miracles, Nick threw out a challenge. 'Peter,' he said, 'you're always using Bible verses for us to respond to, but I think the Bible is a pretty lousy resource book. Can we leave the Bible out of it?'
'I agree,' said Ted, nodding.
'Me too,' Heather said. In fact, everyone seemed intensely interested in this issue.
'That's a good point,' Peter agreed. 'Would you like to discuss the credibility of the Bible next week?' Everyone agreed.
'Okay, then. Come ready to bring your issues and questions about whether or not the Bible can be trusted.'
'That shouldn't be a problem,' Nick said. 'It won't take me any prep time at all. I can tell you right here and now everything that bugs me.'
Peter laughed. 'That's great at least we're guaranteed an energetic start to our discussion!'
When they gathered the next week, Nick started. 'Listen, I've read the Bible from cover to cover in five and a half months, and it's a very scary book.'
'Tell me more,' Peter urged.
'Don't get him started!' Ted exclaimed.
Is the Bible Bogus?
Nick grinned. 'Ted and I have had some conversations about this over coffee. Okay, for one thing, the Bible is full of disturbing contradictions. It says, 'Thou shall not kill,' yet the Israelites said that God told them to wipe out an entire group of people.
So you tell me how that can translate into a clear set of principles for me to follow!'
Eric jumped in. 'Personally, I think that the Bible has some truth to it, but it's also full of errors . . . the trick is figuring out which part is which.'
'Well, that brings up something I wanted to point out,' Ted interjected. 'I think the Bible was written by humans, but Christians try to tell us that it's written by God. Then they turn right around and use it to manipulate and justify hurting people in the name of God. I hate that. I think it was written by people,
and that it's totally impossible for a group of imperfect people to write a completely perfect book. The Bible may have some remarkable wisdom here and there, but it didn't come from God. It is a mixture of human truth and error.'
'Good point,' Nick affirmed. 'I agree with that.'
'I wonder why people think the Bible is better than any other holy book,' Heather proposed. 'There are so many sacred writings;
shouldn't we treat them all with the same degree of respect and care?'
'Whoa, slow down!' Peter exclaimed. He was scribbling notes on a piece of paper. 'You've brought up so many great points.
Should we stop and discuss any of them in detail? I'm trying to keep up.'
'No, I think we should get it all out on the table and then deal with them one by one,' Nick stated. 'So, Peter, here's another one for you to add to your list: People need to read the Bible critically,
and I just don't see Christians doing that. They're so gullible.'
'Well, where I come from, as a Buddhist, I was forbidden to read the Bible,' Elise explained. 'It's considered to be an evil book. But now that we've been referencing it in our group discussions,
I've gotten to where I want to read it for myself to see if there's any truth to that.'
'Don't bother,' Nick said. 'I just read it, and trust me: It's evil.'
'Do you mean that?' Carol said. Everyone turned their attention to her. 'Do you really and truly think it's evil, Nick?'
'Well, yeah, pretty much,' he answered.
'Why do you ask, Carol?' Peter asked.
Carol stopped fiddling with the fringe of a pillow. 'Well, I've been listening to all of you, and I love your ideas. I think you've brought up some great points, but I have to say one thing about the Bible. I've never thought it was evil, but I did think it was outdated and irrelevant. But then, like you, Nick, I decided to read it in the past few months, and it blew my mind. It's nothing like what I thought it was. It's as relevant as any self-help, philosophy,
or religious book written today.'
There was a pause in the flow of conversation. Carol rarely speaks her mind this firmly. 'Thanks for sharing your opinion,
Carol,' Peter finally said, breaking the silence.
'Yeah,' Nick said. 'We're all entitled to our point of view.'
Eric said, 'Have you noticed that people interpret different passages all different ways? Who do we believe? Anyone can make the Bible say whatever they want, so how do we know what the authors of the Bible really intended to say?'
'Good question,' Nick agreed. 'A very good question.'
Heather looked up. 'Yeah, how do we know for sure what the Bible says?'
Is the Bible Bogus?
Use the following space to take notes as you view the video in which Lee Strobel interviews Dr. Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of several books, including How We Believe, and Dr. Ben Witherington III, a New Testament scholar at Asbury Seminary and the author of more than twenty books and commentaries, including the award-winning The Jesus Quest.
1 Name a book you have recently read and would recommend to others. What did you like about it? What do you think are the top bestselling books of all time? Where does the Bible rank on your list?
2 Growing up, what do you remember hearing or believing about the Bible? Were you an 'easy sell' or were you convinced the Bible was 'bogus'? Explain your answer. How has your view of the Bible changed over the years?
3 Which of the following statements best describe your current view of the Bible?
• The Bible should be accepted as true by faith and without reservation.
• The Bible must be substantiated with convincing evidence.
• The Bible is filled with lots of contradictions.
• The Bible is outdated and irrelevant.
• The Bible should be scrutinized, but ultimately we must accept that there are some things about the Bible that we will never fully understand.
• The Bible has a lot of wisdom but that doesn't mean it's from God.
• The Bible is a mixture of truth and human error.
'What I'm saying is, if God wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could think of doing it, he could have done a better job.'
Dr. Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact
4 Do you believe the Gospels are reliable or do they report mostly what the authors and others merely wish was true?
5 Michael Shermer is convinced the Bible is 'myth history,'
and Ben Witherington says the ancient Jews were not mythmaking people but intended to report only what had actually occurred.
Based on what you've read of the Gospels, who do you think is right? Why?