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Reasons to Believe (RTB) is a Christian apologetics organization founded by astrophysicist Hugh Ross. Dr. Ross has brought together mainstream scientists from several different disciplines “to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound and scientific research — including the very latest discoveries — consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature.”

Reasons not to believe “Reasons to Believe”

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Reasons to Believe (RTB) is a Christian apologetics organization founded by astrophysicist Hugh Ross. Dr. Ross has brought together mainstream scientists from several different disciplines “to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound and scientific research — including the very latest discoveries — consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature.”  The RTB website and radio program regularly discuss the latest scientific developments, often from astrophysics or biology, and how they support the truth of the Christian Bible and the majesty of creation. 

One hallmark of the RTB approach to apologetics is acceptance of old earth (or old earth creationism), but at the same time denial of evolutionary theory. The RTB scholars have put together their own creation model that includes a “creation event” rather than an evolution. In effect, they try to walk a line between theology and science. While I disagree with their view of evolution, I applaud the basic approach. I agree that science and theology are completely compatible. 

Unfortunately, the RTB scholars have rejected any literary criticism applied to the Bible. It’s great that the scholars embrace the latest in astrophysics, but why not also accept the latest in biblical criticism? How can they have one without the other? Why can’t the same rational analysis applied to the stars also be directed at the Bible? If the Bible is true as they say it is, shouldn’t it be able to stand on its own merit? Instead, they repudiate the work of biblical scholars such as Bart Ehrman and others. Admittedly, Professor Ehrman is agnostic and is not interested in supporting Christianity.  But why should that make his research any less valid? I would rather listen to him over someone who is biased towards the Bible. At least then I can be sure of the truth. As the book of Proverbs says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses,” (Proverbs 27:6 NIV).

The RTB scholars have the same problem as many Christian leaders today. They hold a very recent interpretation of the Bible which approaches the point of worship. Protestant’s have long criticized Catholics for their use of icons; how is the recent Evangelical view of the Bible any different? If something is considered perfect and without error, to me that is an idol. I’ve even heard some say that Christ is the Word (a misinterpretation of logos in John 1:1). Idolatry is serious. I would think that those who consider themselves Christians would at least stop to consider whether their treatment of the Bible is proper. The Bible is a collection of works written by men, not by Christ. Yes, Christians believe it to be inspired, but that’s not the same thing as dictatation. There’s a big difference. Namely, inspiration in no way necessitates any kind of infallibility. It is Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; not the Bible. 

I agree with RTB that there is complete harmony between science and Christianity, but I disagree with their diagnosis of the problem. At issue is not the application of science; it is the recent interpretation (and worship) of the Bible.

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2 comments

  1. Hey Bruce, you know your articles always draw my interest and this one is no exception! I took you up on looking into Bart Ehrman, and found what I think is a very balanced review of his book, ‘Misquoting Jesus’. I’ve posted a link to the review.

    http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2005/12/review-of-bart-ehrman-misquoting-jesus_31.html

    On balance it seemed that Mr. Ehrman was out of balance in his proclamations regarding textual exceptions and my overall take on it was that it didn’t hurt my faith in God’s verbal inspiration of the scriptures at all. He did not have adequate evidence, at least in this book, to support his rejection of the Bible.

    As for the scientific portion, true science does not contradict the Bible, but scientism does. It is a non-provable faith that God doesn’t exist and that He did not create the universe.

    As for worshipping the Bible, there are so many references in which God instructs us to follow His Word in scripture I don’t have any guilt whatsoever in thinking that I am worshipping an idol. I would offer Prov. 13:13 as just one example. We wouldn’t know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life if we didn’t have the written Word. I’d also point out that Jesus is called the Word of God in more places than John 1:1. Just a little further down in 1:14 the text says, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And again in a very striking description of Jesus Christ at His second coming in Rev. 19:13, “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is the Word of God.”

    I worship Jesus Christ, not the writings about Him, although they are what the Holy Spirit uses to strengthen my faith, and allow me to have the right thoughts about Who He is, thus enhancing my worship.

    A right understanding of inspiration has never been dictation, it is the miracle of God that He used ordinary men, moved them in their spirits and in their minds to write down in their own words God’s truth, being preserved from error. Jude says the faith “once” delivered to the saints. The Bible can stand on it’s own and I’d say that unfortunately the RTB method compromises God’s truth in order to be more palatable to the unsaved. It’s not working.

  2. Hey Dennis- Great comment, and I appreciate you taking the time to look into Bart Ehrman’s work. As you said, I found the critique of Ehrman’s book “Misquoting Jesus” by Williams very well done. I’ve never had much of a problem with textual criticism. I can accept that the Bible is pretty much as it was originally written. Even if some words have been changed along the way, I can’t imagine that it affects the meaning in a significant manner.

    My issue is with biblical criticism (as opposed to textual criticism), that is, did Jesus actually speak the words that are attributed to him, were there actually three wise men, was there really a Bethlehem star, did Paul actually write the letters attributed to him, etc. Professor Ehrman addresses some of these questions in some of his other works such as http://www.bartdehrman.com/books/forged.htm or http://www.bartdehrman.com/books/brief_introduction_nt.htm. More importantly, why don’t those who practice biblical apollogetics accept biblical criticism (not meaning textual criticism).

    Also, to your comment about hurting your faith, my question is if the Bible didn’t turn out to be inerrant, why would that hurt your faith? My faith is not in the Bible, but in Christ. If the Bible is inerrant or not makes no difference to my faith. Why would it affect yours, unless the Bible is a god?

    I agree that “true science” does not contradict the Bible. But I would rephrase that to say that a proper understanding of the Bible does not contradict science. Scientists need to be free to come up with whatever hypothesis they feel best explains the material evidence. They can’t be held hostage to religious or political indictments. If their conclusions are wrong, then they will be corrected at some later date by other scientists, not by theologians. They can’t be held hostage to particular interpretation of the Bible, or they are no longer practicing science, but theology. The problem we have in Christianity today is that theologians are criticizing scientific theories because it doesn’t agree with their particular interpretations of the Bible. In my view, it is the interpretation that is the problem, not the science. Biblical criticism is a big help in this regard, but instead of accepting this help, many theologians are instead attacking the biblical critics such as Professor Ehrman.

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