It may seem odd to use this query in dealing with difficult issues, but it is a foundational question. Here’s why:
- If you believe that the Bible is the work of men rather than the work of God, then you will be less inclined to take it as authoritative.
- If you accept that there is a conflict in the Bible you will be less likely to look hard beneath the surface to attempt to understand that there is not a conflict.
- If you believe that God changed the way He thought about things throughout the writing of the 66 books, then you will be looking for ways to explain that some of the things that are hard or else are not culturally popular in your time no longer apply.
- If you believe that the Bible is one of the things that informs what you believe, along with the teaching of your community of faith, or some other theological work or commentary, then you will be inclined to place those sources on equal or similar footing with the Bible. Thus diminishing the impact of the Word on your thinking. This would apply as well if you were to go to experts, via either recorded messages, articles, or books to resolve the struggle.
Let me suggest that there is only one view of the Bible that the Bible allows. It presents itself as the Word of God. It presents itself as inspired by God in the original autographs. That is, each pen stroke that was made was inspired by God. As such it is without error, without contradiction. It is authoritative for those who are following Christ.
It is the case that we do not any longer have the original autographs. However, we have an embarrassing amount of historical and archaeological support for the Greek and Hebrew that is used in the production of our versions, translations, and paraphrases. So, those of us who are reading in languages other than Greek or Hebrew, can be confident that we have a reliable source to study. There are some caveats to that last statement but they are outside the purpose of this post.
So the starting place for dealing with difficult, hard stuff, is twofold:
- First, what do I believe and why?
- Second, do I accept the Bible as authoritative in attempting to understand and deal with the difficulty?
With those as a starting point, next we will look at how to proceed with challenges…