Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Necessary Foundation for Faith: Factual History

Here is my response to a theistic evolutionist (TE) who claims that Scripture doesn’t distinguish between myth and historical facts:

Here is your defense for your claim that the Hebrews (and Scripture) didn’t distinguish myth from fact and history: “We assume that the Hebrews were part of the same cognitive environment shared by the surrounding cultures unless we have evidence to believe otherwise. And all ANE peoples created myths to answer the "big questions" in life…”

Your argument goes something like this:

1. The ancients didn’t distinguish myth from historical fact.
2. Therefore, the Hebrews also didn’t distinguish myth from fact.
3. Therefore, the authors of Scripture “ .
4. Therefore, Scripture doesn’t distinguish myth from historical fact.
5. Consequently, when we take the Bible’s historical accounts as historical fact, we are imposing our modernistic interpretations on Scripture.

Although this reasoning is so highly problematic (and consequently, I was considering to not even respond), I think it reflects something terribly important---What happens to the Christian mind and faith when it embraces Darwin, and the way that the Bible must be denigrated in order to make this illegitimate marriage “work.”

1. While you might be able to demonstrate that the ancients had a pre-scientific understanding of the world (as compared with our modern science), asserting that they didn’t (or couldn’t) distinguish myth from factual history is an entirely different thing! Furthermore, just because they often resorted to myths and parables, it doesn’t mean that they lacked an appreciation for historical truth and fact. (It is like arguing that since the Samoans eat bananas, they therefore don’t eat bread.) Besides, there are many ancient histories that are highly regarded. (This doesn’t mean that they didn’t lie and distort, but I don’t think that you are insinuating that Scripture lies and distorts, are you?) Therefore, it is you who must provide evidence that the ancients didn’t distinguish fabrication from actual history.

2. (and 3) Once again, you must provide proof that the Hebrews didn’t distinguish myth from history.

4. To conclude that Scripture doesn’t distinguish myth from historical fact, you are forced to deny that all Scripture is also authored by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:9-10; 2 Peter 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Mat. 5:16-18) and that it’s exclusively the product of confused human beings who can’t (or won’t) distinguish fact from fancy. This position flies in the face of everything that Scripture says about itself, as Jesus stated: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Peter explicitly claimed that what they were writing weren’t myths: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

The list is endless. It is needless that I continue with it. In fact, there is no writer of Scripture who ever insinuated that anything that had been written prior as history was actually myth! To maintain that many of these accounts are mythological, is to contradict Scripture at every turn. I too have considered the possibility that the early chapters of Genesis might be myth until it became poignantly obvious that all the writers of Scripture regarded them as historical fact and that these facts played an integral role in the super-structure of Christian theology.

In fact, many academicians have a very high regard for the history as presented in the Bible. Biblical scholar Craig Blomberg states:

“Major studies of almost every theme…of the Synoptic tradition have advanced plausible arguments for accepting the historical reliability of substantial portions of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.”

Archeologist John McRay writes:

“Archeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contradictionj to the Bible. On the contrary, as we have seen, there have been many opinions of skeptical scholars [and TEs] that have become codified into ‘fact’ over the years, but that archeology has shown to be wrong.”

Even the militant agnostic Bart Ehrman acknowledges:

“The oldest and best sources we have for knowing about the life of Jesus…are the four Gospels of the NT…This is not simply the view of Christian historians who have a high opinion of the NT and in its historical worth; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity.”

These statements couldn’t stand if Scripture didn’t clearly distinguish myth from historical fact.

5. Are we imposing our own modernistic assumptions about historical truth upon the Bible? As Ehrman affirmed, this is the same conclusion that “ALL serious historians of antiquity” have embraced! Instead, we conclude that it is the TEs who have imposed their Darwin-driven assumptions on Scripture and refuse to see anything outside of this destructive worldview. Consequently, whenever I present Biblical refutations for the theistic evolution (TE) position, TEs inevitably fail to engage the text of Scripture or my argumentation, preferring instead to delight in lofty abstractions far removed from the reality of Scripture.

If the Bible fails to distinguish between myth and historical fact, how can we? How can we depend upon such a Bible to illuminate our steps? Meanwhile, the TE must sit in judgment over the Bible to determine what is essential and what isn’t, instead of allowing the Bible to sit in judgment over them. Historically, no branch of Christianity which has ever divorced itself from the Text in this manner has been able to thrive. The Gnostics also believed that they possessed a superior understanding that enabled them to derive the real spiritual meat from Scripture. Where are they today? I trust that TE will also find itself on the dump-heap of history, that is, non-mythological history.

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