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What is the Bible? Why do we say it's God's Word? How did we get it? What makes it so special?
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Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby Bobby Jo » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:08 pm

When in finding god must you accept the bible?

We all search for a meaning to life.

There are many Abrahamic religions that are effectively different interpretations of one true god. They all have changed and evolved over many years, taken influence from others, and schisms within religions.

Of course you can always hold slightly dissenting opinions and beliefs, but if you have major issues with how scriptures are written, interpreted, and implemented, I feel like it precludes you from having the faith that is preached as necessary.

So when someone is exploring their beliefs, when should they grapple with integrating the bible into their life? How do you let go of existing theist beliefs that contradict the bible?
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:20 pm

To answer your initial question, yes, you must accept the Bible to truly find God. The truth of the Bible as confirmed by history and the truth of the Bible as confirmed by the incarnation of Jesus and his resurrection authenticate the Bible as the true revelation of the true God. As such, Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, the first Abrahamic religion; Islam is a cult of Christianity, taking its tenets, distorting them, stripping Jesus of His deity, and supplanting the Bible with a different holy book, the Qur'an.

The person of Jesus confirms that the Bible is the true revelation of God that one must accept in finding God.

Perhaps you'd like to elaborate on the "major issues with how scriptures are written, interpreted, and implemented." Possibly that's where your true question lies.

> So when someone is exploring their beliefs, when should they grapple with integrating the bible into their life?

One should start with Christianity because every religion wants a piece of Jesus. The Hindus claim him as an avatar, the Muslims claim him as a special prophet, and the Buddhists consider him enlightened.

In addition, one should start with Christianity because...

- Christianity is testable. None of the other 3 are.
- In Christianity, salvation is a free gift from God. It's a concept different from the other 3 religions, and worth finding out about.
- With Christianity you get an amazing worldview fit with what the world is actually like.
- Christianity has Jesus at the center, not just as a special person.

> How do you let go of existing theist beliefs that contradict the bible?

We are always having to discern between competing theories about truth. Christianity is no different. When we come upon truth, we have to be willing to let go of former ideas now understood as false and to adjust to the new paradigm.

So we use the Bible to find God. The Bible is the story of Jesus, and Jesus was the ultimate revelation of the person of God. No other book tells the reputable story of Jesus and what his life, death, and resurrection meant.
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby Regnus Numis » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:16 pm

> The truth of the Bible as confirmed by history

That's a rather bold claim. Do you believe there is extra-biblical evidence of Genesis, Noah's flood, the Tower of Babel, the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and the Exodus, just to name a few?
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:33 pm

There are thousands of events, cultural and religious items, and people in the Bible that have been confirmed. History and archaeological evidence have corroborated many things in the Bible. No one, especially not me, is claiming that everything in the Bible has been confirmed, or that some things can even be confirmed. The few you have mentioned have some corroborations, but not what you're implying, by my guess.

> Genesis

By this I presume you mean the creation story of Genesis 1-3. I take Genesis 1-3 to be an account of functional creation (why things were created and what their role/function was to be). As such they cannot be corroborated because they are principles and functions, not things that can be dug out of the ground. It's akin to expecting archaeology to tell us whether a situation was fair or not. It's not a question archaeology can address.

> Noah's flood

There is no evidence of Noah's flood, but I wouldn't expect a massive regional flood from 20,000 years ago to have left any evidence for a geologist to find.

> The Tower of Babel

There is actually quite a bit of evidence for the tower of Babel. It was probably about 2100 BC (give or take 200 years) during the Ur III period (the Uruk phase). The Sumerian dynasty collapsed at this time and the area transitions to the Babylonian dynasty. Ziggurats were common; the method of construction mentioned in Gn. 11 is right on point. There was a great migration after a military invasion when the population was scattered among various language groups.

> The Ten Plagues of Egypt

Of course not. It's like asking for evidence of an outbreak of the flu in AD 1060 or something. Such things don't leave evidence for archaeologists to find.

> The Exodus

There is no direct evidence for the Exodus, but there are dozens of correlation points between the story and archaeological evidence. These many correlation points give evidence that the account could easily be historical. By the same token, there is no extra-biblical evidence against the Exodus. There is no hard evidence that proves it's false or fictional.

But you conveniently picked out 4 things there is little hard evidence for while ignoring the thousands of things there IS evidence for. It is to those I was referring, and the evidence is so substantial and strong that I can confidently (or even boldly) claim that the Bible is confirmed by history.
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby Regnus Numis » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:00 pm

> By this I presume you mean the creation story of Genesis 1-3. I take Genesis 1-3 to be an account of functional creation (why things were created and what their role/function was to be). As such they cannot be corroborated because they are principles and functions, not things that can be dug out of the ground. It's akin to expecting archaeology to tell us whether a situation was fair or not. It's not a question archaeology can address.

Fair point. Asking for evidence of Genesis was a careless move on my part. I should have specified whether you believed there was evidence of Young Earth Creationism.

> There is no evidence of Noah's flood, but I wouldn't expect a massive regional flood from 20,000 years ago to have left any evidence for a geologist to find.

If Noah's flood was only regional, then how would you address these criticisms from creation.com:

1. If the Flood was local, why did Noah have to build an Ark? He could have walked to the other side of the mountains and missed it.
2. If the Flood was local, why did God send the animals to the Ark so they would escape death? There would have been other animals to reproduce that kind if these particular ones had died.
3. If the Flood was local, why was the Ark big enough to hold all kinds of land vertebrate animals that have ever existed? If only Mesopotamian animals were aboard, the Ark could have been much smaller.
4. If the Flood was local, why would birds have been sent on board? These could simply have winged across to a nearby mountain range.
5. If the Flood was local, how could the waters rise to 15 cubits (8 meters) above the mountains (Genesis 7:20)? Water seeks its own level. It couldn’t rise to cover the local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched.
6. If the Flood was local, God would have repeatedly broken His promise never to send such a flood again.

Also, how did you deduce that Noah's flood took place 20,000 years ago?

> Of course not. It's like asking for evidence of an outbreak of the flu in AD 1060 or something. Such things don't leave evidence for archaeologists to find.

Perhaps, but wouldn't Egypt still keep a historical record of the ten plagues?

> There is no direct evidence for the Exodus, but there are dozens of correlation points between the story and archaeological evidence.
These many correlation points give evidence that the account could easily be historical.

Could you provide a few examples?
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:06 pm

> I should have specified whether you believed there was evidence of Young Earth Creationism.

No, but I don't believe in YEC because (1) I don't think that's what the Bible teaches, and (2) I think the evidence is weak.

> If the Flood was local, why did Noah have to build an Ark?

Noah was living out a parable that God was using to represent many different truths, and as such the ark represented other realities. Some of those are:

- The ark was shaped like a coffin, and so Noah was "subjected to death" and then "risen out of the tomb."
- The deluge of water represents baptism, and again, the idea of being saved from death.
- Being saved through the storm is a spiritual truth; running away from danger is not.

There are plenty of people in the Bible whose literal lives are also parables for the rest of us: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Jonah, even the nation of Israel. Noah is the same. God instructs him to do the ark thing because of all it's going to represent.

> f the Flood was local, why did God send the animals to the Ark so they would escape death?

God is still making provision to preserve the species of the region, and to be able to repopulate the region after the flood.

> If the Flood was local, why was the Ark big enough to hold all kinds of land vertebrate animals that have ever existed?

It wasn't near big enough to hold all kinds of land vertebrate animals that have ever existed. Fossil evidence around the globe shows that there was an abundant animal population in every continent. Plus, they had one week to get 42,000 on board. Even if God brought them to the ark, that's a traffic jam that would take more than one week to unsnarl.

> If the Flood was local, why would birds have been sent on board?

Birds migrate according to things like seasons and barometric pressures (I think), and a "freak flood" would disorient them and catch them off guard. Again, God was preserving species of the region to repopulate the region. A massive regional flood that lasts for months would probably kill many birds anyway, but for all we know many species did wing across to nearby places. The point wasn't to kill all the bird life of the region. If they flew away, good for them; if they didn't, some of their kind were preserved.

> If the Flood was local, how could the waters rise to 15 cubits (8 meters) above the mountains (Genesis 7:20)?

The language in vv. 19-24 is likely the language of appearance rather than necessarily literal. In the ancient world, the mountains like the Alps were considered to be the pillars holding up the heavens, the dwelling place of the gods, the foundation and navel of creation. These are not the mountains of which the author speaks, because these were where the gods lived. The flood covered the local mountains.

But let's talk about the universal language. I would argue that "all" is not always absolute in biblical usage.

In Deut. 2.25 (same author): "I will put the…fear of you on all the nations under heaven." Few would contend that this refers to more than the nations of Canaan and perhaps a few others.

In Gen. 41.57 (same author): Joseph opens the storehouses of Egypt, and "all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain... because the famine was severe in all the world." I do not know of anyone who contends that therefore the Eskimos, Australians, or Aztecs must have been included.

Acts 17.6: "These men have caused trouble all over the world." Really? Paul caused trouble in South Africa?

Acts 19.35: "All the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of..." Hmm. The Native Americans know this?

Noah was not a preacher of righteousness to the people of Africa, India, China, or America, but to that group of cultures from which Abraham eventually came. The language of the story is normal for Scripture, describing everyday matters from the narrator’s vantage point and within the customary frame reference of his readers.

**Covering the mountains.** And when 7:19 refers to the mountains being covered, it uses the Pual form of the verb *ksh*. This verb is used for a wide variety of "covering" possibilities.

- A people so vast they cover the land (Nu. 22.11)
- Weeds covering the land (Prov. 24.31)
- clothing covering someone (1 Ki. 1.1)
- something can be covered in the sense of being overshadowed (2 Chr. 5.8 – the cherubim over the ark; clouds in the sky, Ps. 147.8)

And what about being covered with water?

- Job 38.34; Jer. 46.8; Mal. 2.13: in these verses "covered" is figurative!
- If Genesis 7:19 is taken the same way, it suggests that the mountains were drenched with water or coursing with flash floods, but it does not demand that they were totally submerged under water. One can certainly argue that the context does not favor this latter usage, and I am not inclined to adopt it. The point is that it is not as easy as sometimes imagined to claim that the Bible demands that all the mountains were submerged.
- See also Ex. 1.7, where the Israelites "filled" the land (a different Hebrew word, but the same concept). It speaks of their great number, not literally meaning that they filled the country.

In other words, "covering" might not mean submerged.

**Fifteen cubits above**. In 7:20, the Hebrew text says, "15 cubits from above [milme'la] rose the waters, and the mountains were covered." It is therefore not at all clear that it is suggesting the waters rose 15 cubits higher than the mountains. It can mean "above"; it can mean "upward" or "upstream". If this were the case in Genesis, it would suggest that the water reached 15 cubits upward from the plain, covering at least some part of the mountains.

> If the Flood was local, God would have repeatedly broken His promise never to send such a flood again.

I don't consider the flood to have been local, but massively regional, even continental. For instance, geologists have surmised that it was about 5.5 million years ago that the Mediterranean was not a sea at all, but it was then that the Straight of Gibraltar, once a solid dam holding back the Atlantic Ocean, was broken, and the ocean water inundated the entire continental region. This is the kind of event I'm talking about. It's far more than a local flood, and it hasn't happened (as far as I know) since Noah's flood, whatever kind of event that was.

> Also, how did you deduce that Noah's flood took place 20,000 years ago?

Just various scholars' estimates. Based on everything we know from science and the Bible, Dr. John Walton speculates that it was at least 10,000 BC or earlier; Dr. Francis Schaeffer says 20,000 years ago or earlier. No one really knows, but from archaeology, we know it hasn't been more recent than 10,000 BC. It's just not possible.

> but wouldn't Egypt still keep a historical record of the ten plagues?

No. In the ancient world they kept genealogical records, financial records, and records of the accomplishments (some true, some enhanced by exaggeration) of their kings. Something like the 10 plagues would never have entered their records. In addition, if it was a humiliation for the Egyptians (which it was in many ways), they wouldn't record that for posterity.

> Could you provide a few examples [of correlation points for the Exodus]?

Sure. I have about 20, but I'll give a few.

1. The place names of Ra'amses and Pithom (Exodus 1) in Egypt accord with the Late Bronze Age (around 1200 BC), when there was extensive construction in the Nile delta region.

2. There is abundant evidence of Semitic populations, including nomadic shepherds, inside of Egypt providing cheap labor in the region. Immigrants regularly entered and settled in Egypt.

3. Matzah (unleavened bread) has its origins in Bedouin life.

4. A well-preserved village has been found at Deir el-Medina. It is most likely not Israelite, but certainly speaks of circumstances similar to what the Bible records about the Israelites, so the biblical accounts of the Israelites in Egypt conform to known facts. Little is known about many of the working population of the Nile Delta in that era.

5. A pillared, 4-room Israelite house has been found along the Nile near the biblical city of Ra'amses. It bears no similarity to any Egyptian structure, but is identical to the houses of Canaan after the Israelite presence is known. It is dated to 1200-1000 BC.

6. An Egyptian papyrus reveals an Asiatic slave with a Biblical name identical to the name of a midwife mentioned in Exodus: Shiphrah (Ex. 1.15). It is reasonably certain that the papyrus came from Thebes. The point is not that this is the same woman, but that such names date to that era in that area.

7. The Israelites were told not to go the Way of the Sea upon their exodus, but to stay inland and pursue a different route that was specified. We now know that the Way of the Sea was dotted with Egyptian fortresses that would have meant certain demise or capture to the fleeing Israelites.
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby Clift » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:44 pm

With regard to the Exodus, the documentary "Patterns of Evidence Exodus" did establish that there is direct evidence for the Exodus if the chronology changes. Rohl's New Chronology establishes that all archaeology work done to discover evidence for the Exodus is done under a fallacy that doesn't take into account an anachronism in the Bible. Namely that the city of Avaris IS the city of Pi-Rameses mentioned in the Bible. Pi-Rameses was built on top of Avaris and the biblical writer would have mentioned it by a name his readers would be familiar with instead of the previous name Avaris.
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:45 pm

The placement of the Exodus in history is still unsettled, as are ultimately the history of the Pharaohs of Egypt. For Egypt, there are scholars who subscribe to high chronology vs. those who advance low chronology. In step with those uncertainties, since we don't know which Pharaoh the Israelites served under (they are all called only "Pharaoh" in the Bible), it's impossible to pinpoint the era of the Exodus. One need not accept chronology changes, given that we don't even know the exact year of the event. Estimates range from about 1500 to about 1200 BC.

As far as the alleged anachronism, it is believed by many scholars (most, I believe) that in the 13th c. BC, during the reign of Ramesses the Great (aka Ramesses II), the old Hyksos capital of Avaris in the northeast Delta was rebuilt and expanded under the new name of Pi-Ramesses. This place name of Ramesses appears only in the era prior to 1085 BC (and it is not used again until the 3rd c. BC). This means the story of the Exodus cannot have been written during the 800-400 BC era, as some biblical scholars claim, but had to have come from before 1085.

Pi-Ramesses was later dismantled to build Tanis (about 12 miles to its north) during the 12th c. BC (21st Dynasty), the time of the biblical judges, after the Israelites had left Egypt. It is well known that Ramesses II used various people as slave labor (or corvee labor) for the building of Pi-Ramesses, including the Apiru (a term used in the era to designate dispossessed people), a description that could have been applied to the Israelites as well as to other people groups.

It was once popular to argue that Avaris was not occupied until the 18th Dynasty. That is no longer widely accepted.

By an 18th Dynasty model, Amenhotep II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Avaris was still occupied during his reign, so a store city could have been built there, later renamed Ramesses.

It is not necessary to recognize an anachronism to fit all the pieces together since the year of the biblical exodus is still unknown.

> Pi-Rameses was built on top of Avaris and the biblical writer would have mentioned it by a name his readers would be familiar with instead of the previous name Avaris.

The writer did use the name Pi-Ramesses in Ex. 1.11.
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Re: Must you use the Bible to find God?

Postby Clift » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:24 pm

Thanks for the additional info.


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