Background : The mystery of “teenagery” - it feels like independence but it probably is emancipation. Emancipation from parents who have played the roles of both judge and jury in determining the fate of a child who just wants his way. Suddenly, the “child” enters a phase where he can no longer mimic a mannequin when he does not agree with the demands of his guardians and neither can he stand the shrill cry in his mother’s voice - a voice which has not changed in his 15 years of existence. So Selorm longed for rare moments like this when he would be separated from his mother, albeit for a short while. It was a short trip to the church picnic site and his mother had decided that it was a good idea to prepare Akple and Abobi Tadi for 50 people. He loaded the van which had only two seats and washed the Peugeot 207 with an impish glee he didn’t know resided in him.
His mother and sister drove off with the Peugeot as he trailed behind with father in the van. He had questions...
Selorm : Papa, something happened in my communication class that got me really thinking and questioning a lot of things. My tutor whispered a statement in the ear of one student and asked him to whisper it to the next and then, that student also had to pass the information on till it got to the last person. However, when the last person was asked to say aloud what she had been told, her reply was entirely different from what the tutor had said! Is that not what has happened with Christianity? information has been passed on for centuries, don’t you think there is bound to be some misinformation? We should be questioning the things we hear from preachers, we should also be questioning a lot of the things we do. Do you agree?
Father : That is a fundamental point you have made Selorm. We should approach the Word of God with open hearts and minds and not with preconceptions because not all our preconceptions are “God-conceived”. Also, let’s look at the first part of your question. An amazing thing about the Bible is the fact that it is many things in one - a historical text, a religious book and a spiritual book among others. This means that it must be subjected to the same objective assessments as various historical texts. Now for everything we consider as history, what you need to realise is that none of us were there. They are all recordings of past events as documented by authors who are currently not present and whose rendition of events we cannot corroborate by our presence. Therefore there must be a systematic process to scrutinise these “historical texts” and settle on them as the closest to what really happened.
In this systematic process, we do not only consider the historical document, but we also consider all the evidence produced in support of that document and one of those is its historical accuracy. This is vital because in order for people to put their faith in the Bible, it must not just be a document of fact but it must also be a document of Truth. Historians consider the intra-Biblical accounts as well as the extra-Biblical references. There are cross references in other manuscripts and when you do a cross-reference, you will find a synchrony in the timelines and in the events.
Selorm : But even when you compare with other manuscripts, you are bound to find some discrepancies so how is that process even reliable?
Father : Yes you are right but remember it is a comparison to find synchrony or harmony. For example, one document may account for 10 people at an event but another will account for 5 and the reason may be that the latter document only focused on those who played key roles at that event. So even though there is such a discrepancy, there is still the harmony to prove that the said document is actually accurate or very very accurate.
Another accepted way of assessment is looking at prophecies given by prophets of old and checking to see if these prophecies actually happened as these prophets said. This is an accepted way of assessment by historians. A good example is the prophecy of Daniel about the various civilisations starting from the Babylonian empire. When you compare that prophecy to extra Biblical manuscripts and accounts of various civilisations, you actually see the congruity, the prophecy really happened and is happening. This process is used for other religious prophecies as well but you can always see the high level of accuracy in the Bible which other religious books lack. It goes back to what you said about approaching the Bible with a sense of scrutiny. It is vital.
Question the Bible, it can stand up to your questions. That is one beautiful thing about the Bible too - the validity of its contents is not only proven by the things in it but also things written by people outside the Bible with no direct affiliation with the Bible.
I have a book on my office shelf titled “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. Remind me to let you have it when we return home.
Selorm : That makes alot of sense Papa. I also have a question about the compilation of the Bible. It obviously has different writers and the various books were written in different times so who determined that those 66 books should be compiled as the Bible we now have? How were the books chosen? Were some books left out? If yes, why were they left out? Was it to serve some unGodly agenda?
Father : Firstly, you must remember that the Bible says all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16) which means God moved the human authors to write them. The ideas and authority all come from God and not the humans who merely discovered them and wrote them.
Secondly, you must realise that the compilation was being made even as the books were written. Remember Deuteronomy 31: 24-26, immediately Moses finished writing the first five books, he ordered the Levites to store them away. Joshua also added to them in Joshua 24:26. Samuel and other prophets also did same with the books they wrote so it was not surprising to see in Daniel 9:2 that Daniel had a collection of Moses’ books as well as prophetic writings.
Thirdly, some books were left out deliberately and I will tell you why. They are called the ‘Apocrypha’ and they are not missing. They do not make any implicit or explicit claim that they were God-breathed like the other books of the Old Testament. Also, Jesus and the apostles never ever cited any of the Apocrypha in the New Testament. The Roman Catholics of old who accepted these books did so (eventhough they were not Jews) to support the doctrine of prayers for the dead in opposition to Hebrews 9:27 which talks about judgement after death. They were not written by the apostles either and contain many heresies and doctrinal errors. They even claim Jesus performed miracles as a child but John said Jesus did not perform miracles until He was an adult (John 2:11). These are some of the reasons why they are generally rejected in official Christendom.
Finally, the New Testament books were written by apostles who had been with the Lord and also by prophets. These people were confirmed by acts of God like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:12 and also in Hebrews 1:1. Also, all 27 of them were accepted in early christendom as the inspired Word of God along with the books of the Old Testament. These, among other reasons are why the Old and New Testament form the canon of Scripture.
Selorm : Wow that is very interesting. I should read more on this topic. I also have another question or perhaps questions. If Jesus is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one can get to the Father except through Him, what happens to the people who died without hearing the Gospel, like the Africans before the colonisers brought Christianity? or was the Gospel already in Africa before colonisation ?
As his father paused to put his thoughts together, the curtain of their silence was torn into two. It sounded like the earth was shaking and rocks were splitting apart. Something opened, it was not tombs this time, it was the driver’s door that had excused itself from its door panel with age. The tremble was just the voice of the prayer team leader as he painted Selorm’s father with accolades and saliva. This time, father turned to son with a plea in his eyes “my son my son do not forsake me” but this time, it was the son who was silent as he stepped out of the car to find solace in offloading Akple and Abobi Tadi...
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
- Article from The Apologetics Study Bible
Conversation by Team Perfection (Teleios Inc.) compiled by Safo Akonnor
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