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Meditation 470
Reading my bible II

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After posting the previous update last Sunday, I read Billy Graham's column.[1]

He was asked:

How do you know the Bible is true? After all, the people who wrote it could just have been making it up.... I can't see why we ought to believe the Bible any more than any other ancient book.

Dr. Graham replied:

Have you ever taken time to read the Bible for yourself - not just a few sentences here and there, but honestly studying it to see what it really says.

...

This is why I challenge you to study the Bible for yourself. Take one of the Gospels... and read through it carefully. (I often recommend starting with the Gospel of John.) As you read, ask yourself if it sounds like something people just made up or if it rings true.

What we have here is the assumption that those who do not accept Christianity have not read the Bible. This is probably true for many non-Christians, but it is false for many others.

But I took his challenge and re-read the Gospel of John. This was certainly a strange recommendation as it is probably the least accessible of the four Gospels with its mystical allegorical opening, and with its constant use of "the Jews" implying all Jews when referring to a small group. On re-reading John, I could certainly see why this text has been used to justify Christian anti-Semitism over the centuries. And I did not find the text rang true. I did not find it believable from the opening verses to the closing verses.

However, I did find one passage which throws light on the issue of why believers think that reading the Bible brings belief; and why non-believers do not find belief.

In John 10:24:

So the Jews gathered round him and said to him: "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

And in John 10:25 - 26

Jesus answered them "I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe; because you do not belong to my sheep.

And that is precisely why non-believers do not find belief out of reading the Bible. You have to be one of the sheep (or a believer) to find belief in it.

There's an inherent circularity here. So where does faith arise from if not through a study of scripture? I'll take a look in Meditation 472.

Footnote:

  1. Calgary Sun, Sunday March 5, 2006