Skepticism and Bible Criticism
Many people have not thoroughly read the Bible. Sometimes, though, because they have heard of one particular passage and perhaps a critical comment with it, have totally disregarded the value and authority of the scriptures. This same issue comes up again and again among skeptics. “You mean you believe in the Bible!” “That’s impossible.” One can easily wonder why is it that the Lord put these kind of passages in the Bible at all. Would not the world be that much closer to the Lord and open to the scriptures if passages that seemed so extreme were not in the Bible? But this is man’s reasoning and very limited.
For instance, we could easily go and make the Bible much more acceptable to the public if we took out all the miracles. Thomas Jefferson, the principle writer of the US constitution, did this in the Jefferson Bible. He believed that the highest ethics available was taught in the Bible but carefully eliminated the religious and miraculous components. People don’t understand that ethics is derives from the Lord Himself.
Secularists don’t like these miracles. They don’t have room for them in their world view. God is not happy with such endeavors. One of the last verses of the Bible in Revelation says,
Jesus was convinced of the value of all the Word of God. He even says every letter and stroke is important. Plead ignorance to God’s purpose of writing different parts of the Bible and confess you are not sure of its relevance to your life, but dare not arrogantly accept the criticism that is thrown at the Word of God.
We can pray for people. We can proclaim God’s Word. But there will always be critics. For decades people mocked Noah and the building of the ark. None of it made sense–building a huge boat on land without trailers and 18 wheelers to move it. Noah was faithful and the skeptics of his day could not thwart him from building the ark as God commanded.
So what incident recorded in the Bible has been flung about in our skeptical society probably more than any other? I can only come away from this with a holy awe of God’s choice to include it. As far as I am concerned, this makes the incident that much more important. God was willing to allow His precious Word to be mocked through the ages just so that we could have this message. I hope we all pay close attention to it. We will find the passage that we are discussing in Joshua 10.
Skeptics are known for their doubt. By knowing a few things, they suppose they know a lot. This is the source of the problem of many critics. The scriptures have shown themselves to be very accurate through the ages. Charges of inaccuracy have been regularly brought against the Bible.
The Gospel of Judas.
Just this week (it is typical the hostile press releases such skeptical reports just before Easter) the press hails the new translation of a 300 AD Gnostic text as a challenge to what the four gospel writers wrote. They suggest that the book’s viewpoint might be more accurate than the four gospels. The Gospel of Judas presents Judas Iscariot as a good guy. The press is unprincipled in their articles for they do not allow the readers to evaluate that the reliability of the Gospel writers. They were four in number rather than one. The Gospels were consistent stories and served as eye-witnesses to the events at the time. This is in total contrast to the other unknown writer who lived hundreds of years after Jesus’ time and was knowingly heavily influenced by a cult known as Gnosticism. Who is interested in the accuracy? They have to resort to such tactics because the Bible has shown itself to be very accurate to all the charges against it.
One charge used the findings of the walls of Jericho to suggest the Bible's unreliability. The early 1900s archaeologist’s report said that the scene had no resemblance to what was said in the scriptures. But if you studied the details of the report of what she saw, then we would conclude quite different. She and other teams actually found the fallen walls just as the scripture stated. No one would expect walls to fall outward forming a path into the city but this is the way this wall fell.
Documentary Theory (JEPD).
Skeptics are not looking for truth but for ways to keep the truth of God from them!
Earlier in the 1900s, one skepticism that catapulted the documentary theory (JEPD) into prominence and acceptance was that there was no writing back in Moses’ time. With this assumption, we could easily see how they would come up with theories explaining who later wrote the first five books of the Bible and the editing process they went through. Now of course that assumption that there was no writing back around 1500 BC has been proven false and that Moses with his high education in the Egyptian court certainly could have written the Pentateuch. But that sentiment and doubtful and critical approach of examining the scriptures was so integrated in the skeptics minds that they persisted in their beliefs, even when their foundational assumption was shown to be in error. This only points out that the skeptics are not looking for truth but for ways to keep the truth of God from them!
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The last charge against the Bible's reliability that I now mention is the charge that Jesus did not rise from the dead. We could of course ask the skeptic, “How do you know that it did not happen?” There have been several critics who tried to prove Christianity was wrong by showing that the resurrection was not an historical event. I have one such book by Frank Morrison. This lawyer was careful in his research but when he looked at the facts as presented in the four Gospels, he found that the claim and presentation perfectly matched. He became a believer.
But let us return and find what great teaching the Lord holds here in Joshua 10. It was so important that the Lord would give ammunition to the critics for hundreds of years. He knew this but would still reveal the truth about what happened on that eventful day.
Before going on, though, perhaps we should take a moment to describe various interpretations of this extended day.
Next > What really happened on that day?