Why Critics of the Bible Do Not Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt
by James Patrick Holding
Having now been engaged in apologetics actively since 1998, and more years than that on the side, I have long since come to a conclusion that is appropriate for any new readers (hence I link this article from my front page) and will be familiar to veteran ones.
I'll sum it up to begin: Whenever you run across any person who criticizes the Bible, claims findings of contradiction or error — they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have to earn it from you. Here's why.
It doesn't take very long to realize that a thorough understanding of the Bible — and this would actually apply to any complex work from any culture — requires specialized knowledge, and a broad range of specialized knowledge in a variety of fields.
Obviously the vast majority of believers spend their entire lives doing little more than reading the Bible in English (or whatever native tongue) and importing into its words whatever ideas they derive from their own experiences. This process is very often one of "decontextualizing" — what I have here called "reading it like it was written yesterday and for you personally."
Of course if the church as a whole is locked into this mentality, you may well suspect that critics (whether Skeptics or other) and those in alternate faiths are no better off.
Let's anticipate and toss off the obvious objection: "Why did God make the Bible so hard to understand, then?"
It isn't — none of this keeps a person from grasping the message of the Bible to the extent required to be saved; where the line is to be drawn is upon those who gratuitously assume that such base knowledge allows them to be competent critics of the text, and make that assumption indifferent to their own lack of knowledge — what I have elsewhere spoken of in terms of being "unskilled and unaware of it."
And is my observation to this effect justified? Well, ask yourself this question after considering what various fields of knowledge a complete and thorough (not to say sufficient for intelligent discourse, though few even reach that pinnacle, especially in the critical realm) study of the Bible requires…
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