If this website genuinely serves the needs of our group (including those away at College who join us during breaks), it will accomplish a variety of things. One thing I want to try do here is help equip those of you who desire to be able to engage in academic (or “scholarly”) discussion that touch on the Christian faith.  This may be because you are at a bible college or seminary and you are interacting with different views within the confessing church, it may be because you are at a Christian or secular university and you want to better engage those who do not know Christ, or it may be simply because you want to be informed and able to speak with anyone. So sometimes the things posted here might only interest a few (for which I created a new category called “Academic”), but it still seems like a great way to get information out. Here goes one of those posts…

Last week my wife surprised me with a book I’d been talking about, but wasn’t planning on dropping money for anytime soon. Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? was released just a couple weeks ago–here’s the publisher’s description of the book:

Is historical accuracy an indispensable part of the Bible’s storyline, or is Scripture only concerned with theological truths? As progressive evangelicals threaten to reduce the Bible’s jurisdiction by undermining its historical claims, every Christian who cares about the integrity of Scripture must be prepared to answer this question.

Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? offers a firm defense of Scripture’s legitimacy and the theological implications of modern and postmodern approaches that teach otherwise. In this timely and timeless collection of essays, scholars from diverse areas of expertise lend strong arguments in support of the doctrine of inerrancy. Contributors explore how the specific challenges of history, authenticity, and authority are answered in the text of the Old and New Testaments as well as how the Bible is corroborated by philosophy and archaeology.

With contributions from respected scholars—including Allan Millard, Craig Blomberg, Graham Cole, Michael Haykin, Robert Yarbrough, and Darrell Bock—Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? arms Christians with fresh insight, arguments, and language with which to defend Scripture’s historical accuracy against a culture and academy skeptical of those claims.

I’m a chapter and a half into it, and so far it’s great. I’ve already underlined a bunch of sane, helpful comments in thinking through issues having to do with how truthful the Bible is.

If you’d like to read the contents, preface, and the first chapter, download this pdf.

The first chapter contains an excellent discussion of how important it is to be able to examine the epistemological assumptions of critical biblical scholarship, and how we can believe scripture even if we don’t have the time or the tools to disprove an academic argument that says we can’t trust the Bible.

For another taste, here’s a great quote from the chapter by James Hoffmeier, “Why a Historical Exodus is Essential for Theology.” Here he’s addressing an issue with critical scholars who are skeptical about whether or not the exodus from Egypt really  happened, since they haven’t seen archeological evidence:

“The reality is that historians of the ancient Near East have often accepted the witness of written documents without corroborating archeological data. During the fall of 2010, I participated in a conference in Germany on the exodus and conquest. In a panel discussion, a distinguished German colleague repeated the mantra that there is no Egyptian evidence for the exodus, which raises questions about the historicity of the biblical tradition. I asked if he believed that Thutmose III invaded Canaan in the mid-fifteenth century BC, besieging and taking the city of Megiddo. He responded, ‘Of course.’ Then I pointed out that this military campaign is one of the best documented reports from the ancient Near East as it is recorded both in royal sources (e.g., Annals of Thutmose III, Gebel Barkal Stela, Armant Stela, Buhen Temple Text, Karnak Seventh Pylon Text, Karnak Toponym lists) and in private documents and bibliographies of officers who accompanied the king. Despite all this textual evidence (from a variety of genres of literature) for the battle of Megiddo in 1457 BC and a seven-month siege of the city (according to the Bakal Stela), I reminded him, there is still no archeological evidence from Megiddo for the Egyptian attack! Megiddo, as it turns out, is probably the most excavated site in ancient Israel, having been investigated with regularity since 1903, and work is ongoing. This scholar was prepared to accept the claims of various Egyptian texts, although they were shaped by religious, ideological, and propagandistic agendas, despite the absence of any clear archeological evidence to support the written claims. I concluded my observation by saying that as historians were willing to give Thutmose III’s written claims the benefit of the doubt, I was prepared to do the same for the exodus narratives.” (p. 109-10)

And here’s what D.A. Carson says about the book:

“Standing athwart the tide of strident voices currently demanding that we abandon confidence in the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible, the chapters in this volume constitute a defense of historic Christian confessionalism on the nature of Scripture. Mercifully, however, they are not mere regurgitations of past positions. Rather, they are informed, competent, and sometimes creative contributions that urgently deserve the widest circulation. In months and years to come, I shall repeatedly refer students and pastors to this collection.” D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

If you read the pdf or get the book, let me know what you think…