I was a young Christian when a friend told me that the Bible was probably just made up by people who took advantage of gullible people. He went on to tell me that, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible had been thoroughly discredited. Since I was a new Christian, I knew nothing about the Dead Sea Scrolls. How was I to know that the exact opposite was true? But the man went on and on. He claimed that the ancient Israelites worshipped a sacred mushroom, that the Red Sea Crossing coincided with a scientific discovery of an earthquake at that time, and that alien encounters were the explanation of Ezekiel’s whirling wheels. Again, I had at that time not read about Ezekiel’s wheels within wheels. But I do remember that the man seemed so authoritative. He gave the impression that he was well read. How was I to know he was a fool?
Since then, I have come to recognize “hot air” and ignorant bluster when I see it. I am also aware that conversations with such people result in nothing but arguments. Proverbs 29:9 says, “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” My advice to anyone encountering such a person, is to smile politely and walk away.
But, it seems to me that all the raging and laughing has had an impact on the faith of some. It has now been some years since Dan Brown published “The Da Vinci Code”, a book so filled with historical errors as to make it indefensible. And yet it has had considerable influence on many. I still meet people who are convinced that the basic premise of Brown’s book is true, and that all of us “Bible Believers” have been hoodwinked and don’t know the facts.
Some time ago, I had a discussion with a grade 12 student. He had grown up in church and was confused by a recent conversation with a classmate. The classmate had told him that he had a religion based upon the “Klingon” religion from the Star Trek Series. (I for my part have no idea what “Trekies” do and think, but I would not be surprised if this were true.) The student wanted to know what was the difference between the Bible and a “Klingon” religion. I must say, I was utterly floored. I asked the student what he knew about the Bible. He thought he knew a bit, but it soon became apparent he had no idea about the difference between a real historical document and science fiction fantasy.
And that has gotten me thinking. Might it be true, that a great many people, even Christian people, have no idea about the basic facts of the Bible? Would it help them to know that the Bible first began to be written shortly after 1446 B.C., and that it was not completed until around A.D. 95? Would they be helped to know that the Bible is comprised of 66 separate writings? Would they find it interesting that all of the locations it mentions are found on real maps, and that one can go and visit them. Would they be interested to know of hundreds and hundreds of archeological finds that substantiate the Bible’s account? Would they be interested that modern archeologists actually use the Bible to understand the ancient world?
Now of course, I am not advocating getting into a debate with the man who said the ancient Israelites worshipped the sacred mushroom, or that Ezekiel was visited by aliens. Proverbs 26:4-5 makes it clear that whether you answer a fool or not, the outcome is always the same. Fools mock and rage, and delight themselves with the sound of their own arguments. We really should walk away. But I am making the argument for reaching out to the gullible and the confused. It seems to me, there are a great many people who would be delighted in a meaningful conversation about the Bible, but have no information at all. Perhaps we need to be aware of just how profound the lack of Bible knowledge really is, and view that as an opportunity for dialogue.
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