Biblical History

The Bible as a HISTORY Book

“the goal of the Christian minister ought to be to instill within his people the entirety of the Christian worldview; which is all encompassing.”

One of the first things that I stress to my students and fellow congregants is that the Bible is more than a book of theology, of spirituality, of moral norms (i.e., ethics); it is also a history book. In this way, the Bible provides answers for the Beginning (Creation), why things are the way they are, and what we can expect in regards to how things will end (Consummation).

I realize at the outset that there will be those inside and outside the Christian faith that will want to challenge this claim that the Bible is a history book. The reality, however, is that the majority of its writings (about 60%?) are written in the form of a historical narrative; being relayed to its readers from the vantage point of eyewitnesses.

Yeah, but it’s not Exhaustive…

It is true that the Bible does not given an exhaustive historic retelling of the past. There are many things left out from a historic vantage point. However, no history book attempts to relay the events of all history. There are certain elements of what has happened in the past that are left out. Each historian of the past and present (and it will be the same for those in our future as well) chooses what they’ll keep within their writings and that which by necessity will be left out. Because each theme and purpose are different.

Yeah, but its not Unbiased…

We must also admit at the forefront that all writings are by nature biased. The concept of being unbiased or nonpartisan, though popularly held, is nonetheless an impossibility. This is not to say that we should not seek objectivity in our personal lives. We want to comprehend and judge things correctly, but even this requires an unbending commitment to a standard.

Take for example the person who says my Cincinnati Reds jersey is overwhelmingly red in color. The statement is true, but it is not neutral. The person who points its color and states it as a matter of fact is necessarily biased. They have appealed to the standard color known as “red,” one of the primary colors.

Suppose a person who is color blind rejects what the other person has declared regarding my Red’s jersey, claiming that the person who sees colors is just being biased and is just telling it how they view reality. Does the “blind” person nullify what the “color-minded” can see, because the “color-minded” is naturally biased in their appeal to an objective standard? No. In the same way, we should not fault writer’s past, present or future for telling a thing as they see it. They may be right or they may be wrong, but the only way to tell is to critique the standard of justification being appealed to.

The Importance in Recognizing this…

Which is why it is so important for Christians to understand (and this they can pass on to others in their witnessing) that the Bible speaks on matters beyond the scope of what some have deemed as “spiritual matters.” The Bible as written is given as a comprehensive document that offers a cogent retelling of past events.

Are there supernatural elements to its writings that cannot fully be explained by natural means? Sure. How can you physically test that which you cannot see, taste, touch, smell, or feel? You can’t. Does that make it nonsensical? Not necessarily.

Things in Science that require Faith…

What about Dark Matter, or a Black hole, or an Oort Cloud, or the Big Bang, or evolution on a macro-level? Can I physically witness any of those things? No, I can’t and neither can anyone else (mathematical conjectures and personal desires aside). And yet, they are believed in. People tenaciously hold to them. Personally, I don’t find the arguments presented for them compelling. I realize that the appeal they have in that they seemingly make the God of the Bible unnecessary, but that does not give them an ounce of authority. It doesn’t make them necessarily true.

The same could be said of…

“Yeah, I know what some of you may be thinking, ‘the same could be said of the Christian faith.’” There are things recorded in the Bible that we cannot use our physical senses to “see.” I’ve never seen a talking donkey, or a flying fiery chariot, or a finger writing a foreign language on a wall. Nor have I, to the best of my knowledge, seen an angel, watched a person walk on water, or listen to a person say to a storm “be quiet” and it does so at that precise moment. And yes, if someone told me that “so and so” rose from the dead I would be a bit skeptical, and rightly so.

True, these are the sorts of things recorded in the Holy Bible. But they are not normative. They are miraculous or supernatural. Some, in their arrogance assume that these “stories” are the products of an ignorant people. Some atheists, like Bill Nye for instance, call them extraordinary tales told by “sheepherders;” an epithet used to belittle those in the past.

And yet, what we find in the writings of Scripture is that people were astonished, amazed and marveled when they saw these things come to pass. We are given their doubts that such miraculous thing really transpired. Doesn’t sound at all like the gullible, ignorant people we are supposed to believe that they were with our technological advancements in the scientific age. For they readily recognized that the event(s) in question were “extraordinary” and not the normal happenings in life.

All Worldviews are…

What should be apparent to all is that all worldviews are “faith-based systems.” They attempt to define reality as a whole, and give the knowledge required to understand and interpret all the evidence before us. Sometimes I listen to Christians and unbeliever’s argue about evidence. They skeptic says, “We have all this evidence, what do you have?” The Christian then responds, “What about this…or that…or maybe even this?” It becomes a rat race where one group is trying to amass more proof than their counterpart.

The fact is that we all live in the same world. We all share the same reality. We all seek to rationalize our beliefs—to offer justification for them—with our interpretation of the evidence. No matter how many times a person may say it. No matter how strongly a person might believe it to be true: “evidence does not speak or lead.” All evidence, facts or truth claims are interpreted. They are comprehended by appealing to that “worldview” or “faith-based system” that the individual in question is committed to.

What this has to do with Christian witnessing…

To be a Christian witness is more than just sharing your faith. It also requires you to provide a defense. Some spend an exorbitant amount of time attempting to build a Christian apologetic on one particular item. These individuals have an incremental approach to witnessing. They believe they must first get the person to believe “x” before they lead them to “y,” etc., etc., etc., in the hope of finally leading them to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. These evidence compilers and distributors fail to see the Christian faith as one cohesive/cogent whole. They compartmentalize the faith into block segments like bulkheads in a ship. Hoping that if they attack each separate bulkhead filling it with truth as they see it, the end result will be that the unbeliever’s doubt will be sunk; removing barriers from them putting their faith in Christ.

The Bible offers a different approach. The Bible tells the history of mankind from God’s vantage point. Each major historic event (a total of seven) provides the believer with specific references where they can go to address the needs of those to whom they are witnessing. This is one of the key tenets of Answers Bible Curriculum from Answers in Genesis, although the first time I had heard about it was in Ken Ham’s book Creation Evangelism. Well, what are they?

Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation.

  • Creation—The Creative Works of God. God as Creator created all things “very good” (Gen 1.31), making each according to their kind, and placing the first Man and Woman, as fellow image bearers, over all the earth.
  • Corruption—The Fall in the Garden. Adam rebelled and forfeited his freedom afforded to him and his offspring through Eve, the mother of all Living. All creation now groans under the curse to which Adam’s sin brought.
  • Catastrophe—The Flood of Noah’s Day. The deluge that destroyed the whole world and all things with the breath of life in them except 8 humans, two of every kind of animal, and seven of every clean who boarded the ark. A picture of judgment and salvation, of mankind left to his/her natural means, and of those who received grace and mercy in God.
  • Confusion—The Tower of Babel. Within a few generations after the Flood, people sought to make a name for themselves on the plain of Shinar. They were building a city and a tower to worship created things rather than the Creator. Their refusal to heed His command brought a confusion of language separating them to the four winds of the earth.
  • Christ—The entrance of the Living Word into Flesh, named Jesus of Nazareth. Born a Lord (i.e., Son of David), and a Savior (i.e., Son of Abraham). He came to save that which was lost in Adam, those to whom the Father had given Him.
  • Cross—The Sacrificial Lamb. Christ became the Passover for those who will be found believing in Him. He finished the work He was sent to do. He became a curse (a substitute) for the elect of God.
  • Consummation—A new heavens and new earth. God through Christ by the Spirit will heal all that was cursed by sin. Sin and Death will be cast into the Lake of Fire, and God will dwell with His people for eternity. There will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain or death for those found in Christ Jesus.

An Example of How this can be used in Christian Witnessing…

I would imagine if I asked the question: “Is Racism wrong?” The majority of respondents would say, “Yes, absolutely.” What if I asked a follow up: “Why?” What would you say? Depends doesn’t it on what you really believe about reality and knowledge as a whole. Is Racism absolutely wrong? Is it, ever right? Is there ever a circumstance where it might be allowed?

What’s the right Christian response? How does the Seven C’s of History provide a framework for giving a solid Christian witness (gospel and apologetics; sharing and defending)?

“There are not many races of people on this planet, but one race only—the human race (Creation). The reason there are differing ethnicities in the world is because God separated the peoples after the Flood (Confusion). Racism is rooted in bigotry (Corruption) and will be judged for the evil it is (Catastrophe and Consummation). Yet, God offers a solution for this sin in Jesus of Nazareth (Cross and Christ), and He alone is able to bring perfect, permanent healing (Consummation).”[i]

This is how a holistic approach to Christian witnessing looks. The Christian worldview offers a reason and a solution for the problem of racism (as one example). The way one might apply these Seven C’s will depend upon the circumstance presented to them. The point here is showing Christians they do have a cogent response from Scripture on how to answer any individual who asks of their hope in Christ Jesus.

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ENDNOTES:

[i] Kristafal Miller, excerpt from D. Min Project.

Images by The Seven C’s of History Timeline (Petersburg, KY: Answers in Genesis).

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