Truth or Dare?
That’s the question you’re faced with when you approach the Bible. Sure, I can present to you all of the evidence and give you all of the intellectual arguments for and against the Bible, its composition, and its historical value (for a solid, concise work on this check out John H. Sailhamer’s How We Got the Bible), but that’s not the point, is it? I wouldn’t convince you anyway, would I?
The truth is, the Bible claims to be true. It claims to be the real world. It claims to be the true story of all of the world’s stories. It claims to be written from the only perspective that matters, God’s perspective. It’s not a history book. It’s not a science book. It’s not even a book on religion. It’s a storybook. And just to be clear, it’s a nonfiction storybook. Even if you don’t believe anything that the biblical narrative purports, you cannot deny the fact that the Bible was written to put forth that it is not merely a representation of history, it is history—God’s history, in which all other reality must conform. In the words of Erich Auerbach, one of the leading literary critics and comparative analysts of the last century (and by the way, not a Christian), “The world of the Scripture stories is not satisfied with claiming to be a historically true reality—it insists that it is the only real world” (Mimesis, 14-15).
I know what you’re thinking though. You’re thinking, it’s a circuitous and thus fallacious argument to say, “The Bible says it’s the truth, so you should believe it’s true.” And you would be correct. However, it’s not an argument at all. It’s just a statement. That’s exactly what the Bible says. I’m not here to argue with you whether or not that’s true. I’m here to present to you the options.
Is it true that the Bible has changed lives? Yes. Is it true that the man Jesus Christ changed the course of history? Of course. Is it true that the Bible has been abused for evil purposes? Yes. Is it true that the biblical narrative has stood the test of time? Certainly. Is it true that there are some things in the Bible that are difficult to digest? Definitely. Is it true that a storybook that claims to be God’s story and your story that has transformed civilizations, directed history, and teaches love is supreme deserves a fair hearing and adjudication? Yes.
Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French philosopher, is famous for his logical argument known as Pascal’s Wager. He asserts that God, by very definition, is infinitely incomprehensible and therefore we are incapable of ever fully knowing whether or not God exists or does not exist. Therefore, all of humanity is playing a game in which each individual wagers whether the Bible’s claims are true or false. Whether God is real or not. Whether Jesus is alive or dead. The kicker is, it’s a pretty easy wager in Pascal’s mind. If you choose to believe the biblical narrative and the Bible’s claims are true, you gain everything. If you choose to believe the biblical narrative and the Bible’s claims turn out to be false, you lose nothing. However, if you choose to believe the Bible’s claims are false and the Bible turns out to be true, you lose everything.
So, you’re left with a dare. Do you dare to take the Bible at its word? Do you dare to believe its truth claims? Do you dare to find your place in the story of the world? Do you dare to find your identity and destiny in God’s story?