Until the end of the 1960s if you asked people whether they thought the Bible is true, you would have been likely to get very definite answers. Some would have responded with a resounding “yes”, while others would have come back with an equally passionate “no”. This public interest was fueled by a scholarly battle over the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments which had been going on since the late 1800s.
That battle is now substantially over, with neither side having gained complete victory. The great bulk of actual evidence strongly supports the Bible’s authenticity. On the other hand, public opinion has mostly been won over by those who tend to discount the Bible’s truth. Consequently, there has been a major attitude shift about the Judeo-Christian scriptures. If you ask people today whether the Bible is true, many will casually reply, “Who cares?”
So the burning Bible question for the twenty-first century is not whether the Bible is true, but is the Bible relevant? In other words, do the Judeo-Christian scriptures have any significance compared with the Nightly News or the Internet? Here is my reply:
- The Bible has outlived every culture that has opposed it. Rome persecuted the Christian message for nearly 300 years. In the end it accepted and adjusted to the very truth it had tried to suppress. The philosopher Voltaire once predicted that the Bible was a dying book and that Christianity would be extinct within 50 years. After his death, a French Bible society used his presses to print millions of copies of the Scriptures. The Soviet Union tried to replace the Bible with the works of Karl Marx. Where is the Soviet empire today? These lessons should not be forgotten.
- The Bible has spoken to people in every generation for more than 2,000 years. It often reads like an editorial in the local newspaper as it describes the world we live in and its problems. How amazing that an ancient book which is supposedly irrelevant has always managed to challenge a significant group of people in every age!
- The Bible has an uncanny way of pinpointing the true condition of the human heart. When the Bible describes human beings as made in the very image of God, yet fallen under the influence of sin, it rings true as no other psychological theory can. People are amazing, marvelous and are capable of noble things. Yet people often do and say and think the most abominable things. The more the social theorists attempt to explain this phenomenon apart from God’s truth, the less relevant they become.
- The Bible speaks to the deepest of human needs. When we face eternal issues such as death, deep personal disillusionment or pain, the often shallow views of the wider culture give little lasting support. Many a man or woman has found peace and new perspective in their darkest hour by pulling a dusty Bible off the shelf and allowing its truth to shine into their lives.
- The Bible contains prophetic portions that are simply unexplainable if they are not divinely inspired. This has been more noticeable as increasing archeological evidence comes to light. For example, how could Psalm 22, written perhaps 1,000 years before Christ’s crucifixion, so graphically portray that very event since crucifixion was a Roman custom brought to the Holy Land only a few decades before Jesus’ time?
- Jesus Christ himself affirmed the Scriptures totally. In Matthew 5:18 he said that heaven and earth would sooner disappear than that even the smallest part of God’s word would become void.
I could list more reasons why the Bible remains relevant for our times. One hundred years from now the Bible will still be true and will speak to the heart of real issues long after the fads of our generation are a quaint memory. It would seem, then, that the wisest thing to do would be to take God’s word very seriously. If we build our lives on its eternal truth, we will not be shaken by the winds of our time.