Friday, June 6, 2008

book review, part 3--christianity worth believing

The Bible gains its authority from God and the communities who grant it authority.
p. 64

Does it?

Now, let's grant the idea that a person may not recognize the authority of the Bible. That's not hard to imagine, it's only a large majority of the human race.

Does that mean that the Bible does not have authority,then, over them?

Pagitt here says "The Bible gains its authority from God...". Perhaps there are more accurate ways of putting it, but that'll do for now. Granting this, upon what basis does the Bible need to gain "its authority from...the communities who grant it authority"?

This is of more then academic importance.

For example, before His ascension Jesus told His disciples "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth". From that moment until now, has even a large percentage of the human race recognized Jesus' authority? Does that mean that Jesus does not have authority, particularly "all authority"?

I will put it this way--if ever the day should come when absolutely no person on this earth recognizes the authority of the Bible, that would not mean that the Bible has no authority, anymore then a world full of atheist or pagans would negate God's authority.

Like many people, I believe in the Bible because I believe in God. But I know plenty of people who think it ought to happen the other way around, that a person needs to believe the Bible in order to believe in God. So they'll give a Bible to a non-Christian in the hope that by reading about God, that person will be enlightened. Certainly that can happen, but it seems kind of backward to me. I mean, what possible reason would someone have for believing this story if they didn't already believe in God?
p. 64

I wonder, then, what kind of God he expects them to believe in if they do not want to learn about God from the Word that He Himself has given to us?

Really, I think Pagitt has it backwards. No, not everyone who reads and knows the Bible is a believer, in fact Jesus' temptations show that even Satan can make use of Scripture for his own ends. But without Scripture, what kind of God is someone suppose to believe in?

Pagitt may point to his own upbringing and conversion as examples. But would that be an example? He may not have had a typical religious or Christian upbringing, but even by his own telling, he had some knowledge of God, even if it was only rudimentary. For all of its faults, he was raised in a culture permiated by Christianity, where Jesus and God are often talked about--maybe too often without much real knowledge, but still mentioned and considered. He may not have gone into churches, but he likely saw many of them, and had some idea of what they were about.

And more then that, Pagitt himself relates his conversion to seeing a Passion Play, a play about the death and resurrection of Christ, taken from the Bible. He says that it showed him about the crucifixion and the resurrection.

As such, then, Pagitt had some knowledge of the Bible. To give a counter-example, if he had been raised in the Middle East, brought up from birth on the Koran and to pray to a god named Allah, then his ideas of god would have been much different.

It is as the Bible says, "So then faith comes by hearing the Word of God".

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