Monday, 20 March 2017

Not Fake News - Sunday 19th March 2017

How much can we trust the Bible? Fake News is big news at present, with stories of prominent people making unsubstantiated claims to suit their political agendas. Many of the people around us - I don’t doubt - generally assume that most of the Bible is similarly fake news, cooked up to support an ancient religious agenda.
I came into active Christian faith through a tradition that presented the Bible as ‘The Word of God’, insisting that every sentence was true, whether or not it fitted with the discoveries of science. But it seemed to me that the people who called the Bible ‘The Word of God’ were making a claim that neither the Bible nor any of its key characters supported. Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is something different.
Years of study and investigation have shown me that the Bible does not need us to puff it up with inflated claims; it stands firmly on its own. Picking a random story from the Old Testament last week, I researched the Battle of Mediggo in which King Josiah of Jerusalem died, as recorded in 2 Kings 23. Within an hour I had confirmed that Mediggo definitely existed, that Pharaoh Neco (Necho II in Egyptian records) had indeed marched north in 609BCE to support the ailing Assyrian Empire which was under pressure from the expansionist Babylonian king, Nabopolassar, (who’s son, Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned over 50 times in the Bible. The dates, the names and the places all match up as Israel’s account dovetails in with those of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. I was even able to see what Nabopolassar and Necho looked like.
The Bible is not fake news. Neither is it a collection of other-worldly fables or far-fetched myths. What impresses me is that the people who wrote the different parts of the Bible took great care to get it right. They researched their story using official records, and double checked their sources. As Saint Luke expressed it at the outset of his Gospel, "I decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account” based on the testimony of "those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses”.
We can trust the Bible, not because it is the result of some undefined miraculous process, but because the people who wrote it worked hard to get their story straight.

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