The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Don't Let Critics Make the Rules

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Critics of the Bible begin with the premise that they know more about the geography and times of the Bible than those who actually lived during the history of the period. Dogmatic claims are often made based on incomplete archeological evidence. This has been happening for a long time. How many years have we heard there was no mention of David outside the Bible? In 1987 archeologist Kathleen Kenyon claimed, “To many people it seems remarkable that David and Solomon still remain unknown outside the Old Testament or literary sources derived directly from it. No extra-biblical inscription, either from Palestine or from a neighboring country, has yet been found to contain a reference to them.”[1] An inscription discovered in 1993 appears on a fragment of a victory monument erected by a king of Damascus (Aram) during the 9th century B.C., some 250 years after King David’s reign. The fragment specifically mentions victories over a “king of Israel” (probably Joram) and a king of the “House of David” (probably Ahaziah). The House of David Inscription (Tel Dan Inscription) currently resides in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.[2]

Christians often enter debates with non-believers by adopting their premise that the Bible cannot be used as a reliable historical document. How is it possible, they argue, to use the Bible as authentic history when it’s the Christian’s obligation to prove the Bible is authentic history? This means that non-biblical history is always valid, and the Bible cannot be considered as real history until it is validated by some secular source. Gleason Archer’s comments are to the point:

[I]f a historical statement in the Bible is factually true, it does not require any corroboration from secular sources to become true. This is a basic canon of logic. Undoubtedly there are multitudes of events that have taken place in earlier times that have never been recorded either in sacred or secular written sources. They nevertheless actually took place, even though they were never recorded. And if an event was recorded only in a nonscriptural document, it needs no attestation from Scripture to preserve it from being a non-event. And, of course, the reverse is true. An episode that actually took place became a fact of history whether or not it was recorded in an extrabiblical source.
           
The only way to justify skepticism of scriptural veracity when it records names or events not found in extant secular accounts is to establish that the Bible is demonstrably inferior to all other ancient sources in the matter of its trustworthiness.[3]

Let’s suppose that 3,000 years from now, after digging through tons of rubble, archeologists find a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. One group called the Americanites points to these finds as valid historical evidence that there was a nation called the United States of America. Another group calling themselves the Englishites insists that there was no independent American nation but only an English colony named America. When the Americanites point to these recently discovered copies of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution as evidence of an independent American nation, they are immediately told that the documents are not evidence because they support what must first be proved.

In the many debates I’ve witnessed over the years, I have noticed that Christians let secularists make the rules by allowing them to determine what constitutes evidence and what is acceptable as an operating interpretive paradigm. This is a huge mistake. In addition, I find that too many Christians concede common ground to atheists and evolutionists. I would never permit an atheist/evolutionist argue that morality, reason, and information are entities that can be derived from a materialistic worldview. Of course, these guys don’t like it when you insist that they account for these entities given their materialistic operating assumption. They will protest, curse, and name-call, but they still can’t account for or sustain their worldview without the existence of God. They are worldview thieves. 

Footnotes:
[1]
Kathleen Kenyon, The Bible and Recent Archaeology, rev. ed. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987), 85.
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tel_dan_inscription.png. A translation can be found at http://biblicalstudies.info/top10/schoville.htm
[3] Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Regency Reference Library, 1982), 210.

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