John Woodbridge and D. A. Carson compiled a series of essays on an evangelical defense of Biblical inerrancy entitled Scripture and Truth. Philip Edgcumbe Hughes’ essay on “The Truth of Scripture and the Problem of Historical Relativity” stated, “There is every justification, then, for asking what possible relevance the ancient writings of a bygone prescientific and unsophisticated age can possibly have for modern man.” In his argument, much of the twentieth century world can be described as, in all intents and purposes, being prescientific and unsophisticated. He gives three reasons:
1.) While millions enjoy the use of modern gadgets and appliances, most do not know how or why they work. Much of their knowledge is limited to knowing how to turn on and turn off switches.
2.) The members of the simple and backwards societies could equally learn how to turn on and off switches to use modern technology and become as technologically sophisticated as the average members of modern society.
3.) Man, in general, has forgotten that God made man in His image and entrusted him to have dominion over the earth. Fundamentally, man has perverted his potential of this mandate because of his self-induced fallenness. Man constantly will put his achievements to ungodly and inhuman uses. With all our technological progress there has not been any ethical improvement. We are no more loving nor compassionate than man was two thousand or even four thousand years ago.
I believe that if we take away even one or two of the technological advances that we have, we would revert to acting like ancient man. This is evident from the recent hurricanes that have hit parts of the United States. Basically, sophisticated man was reduced to looting which was seen in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. If something happened to our supermarket infrastructure across the country, chaos would ensue in a very short time.
Today there has been much controversy about the cultural irrelevancy of the Bible. J. I. Packer, in an essay in Scripture and Truth, argues against the point of view of Dennis E. Nineham, an English twentieth century theologian, who stated that intellectual, emotional and attitudinal differences between the people of ancient cultures and modern cultures are so radically different that it is unintelligible to us. Packer calls this nonsense. Packer states that the claim by anyone to understand ancient religion or literature, whether Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Indian or Chinese, would be false if there was any validity to Nineham’s claim. We may as well throw out Sophocles, Aeschylus and Homer, along with all classical literature. The apostle Paul was well aware of variations in cultural norms and backgrounds. In his writings in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 9), he stated he would become a Jew to win Jews and to those without the law he would become as one without the law. In Acts 17, he used a different approach when speaking to the philosophers of Athens.
P. T. Forsyth, in the Person and Place of Jesus Christ, stated, “The authority of the Bible [he wrote] speaks not to the critical faculty that handles evidence but to the soul that makes response. The Bible witness of the salvation in Christ is felt immediately to have authority by every soul pining for redemption. It is not so much food for the rationally healthy, but it is medicine for the sick, and life for the dead. all the highest interpretation of the Bible comes from that principle of grace.” He also stated in Positive Teaching and the Modern Man, “It is not a history of Israel, but it is a history of redemption. It is not the history of an idea, but a long divine act....[The] first value of the Bible is not to historical science but to evangelical faith, not to the historian, but to the gospeller.”
If there is no God, then quantitatively we are no different than an animal. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that the fate of man and beast is the same; as one dies, so the other dies (Eccl. 3). In chapter one of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote, “Vanity of vanities, all life is vanity.” If life ends at the grave, we have no ultimate purpose in living. This reads like a piece of modern existential literature. If God exists, there is hope. If he doesn’t there is no hope. To quote Nietzsche, “Men do not truly comprehend the consequences of what they had done in killing God.” He goes on to say that men fail to realize the implications of their atheism which will ultimately lead to the destruction of all meaning and value in life - nihilism. The problem of atheism is that it is inconsistent. On one hand atheists deny God, but affirm traditional values such as love and brotherhood. Bertrand Russell realized this inconsistency. He stated that he could not live as though ethical values were a matter of personal choice. He found his own view “incredible.” He stated that he had no solution to this. Dostoyevsky stated, “If there is no God, then all things are permitted.” Incredibly as it may sound, the post-modern world is one step away from being like Auschwitz in which there is no absolute right or wrong. All things are permitted.
On the other hand, Blaise Pascal, in his book Apology, portrayed man in two parts - the misery of man without God and the happiness of man with God. Man at the same time can be miserable yet great. This is an enigma. Our misery comes from our uncertainty and insignificance. If man relies on scientific knowledge, he is an infinitesimal speck lost in the immensity of space. He is bound on both sides by eternity. He goes on to say man’s greatness is he has the capability of knowing he is miserable. Therefore, “greatness” is “thought.” Man does not have a solution for his predicament, but God has. According to Pascal, “The only reasonable course of action is to believe in God: for if you win, you will win all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” This alludes to his famous wager argument. The odds are even if God exists or not; therefore, reason cannot determine which bet to make. If God exists, then we gain eternal life and infinite happiness; nothing lost. If God does not exist, then we have infinite loss. Here we gain nothing. The better choice is to believe that God exists. Solomon, in the conclusion of Ecclesiastes said we need to “...fear God and keep his commandments because this applies to every person. God will bring every act to judgement, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
My main resource was Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig.
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