By Barry Fields
“The Bible,” Brien wrote, “is a compendium of fireside tales and fables, recounted orally for generations by goat herders and primitive tribes from the Stone Age, until writing was invented, and then again, many different sources, transliterations, and versions were copied and written down.”
After reading Brien’s online post to not recommend attending Hawesville Baptist Church, which continues below, I sent him my response, also below.
“The Bible was created during a time where stories were orally passed down over thousands of years,” Brien wrote. “Stories constantly morphed and changed over time, and the Bible is a collection of these. This is why it has the nearly identical flood story from Gilgamesh, and why Jesus has the same characteristics as Dionysus, Osiris, Horus, Mithra, and Krishna.
“The contradictions and immorality in the stories are not evidence that God is flawed or evil, but rather that humans invented him, just like the thousands of other gods that we used to but no longer believe in … and to answer the questions of the many fears and mysteries of our universe, like thunder and earthquakes, since there was no science yet.”
The New Testament, Brien wrote, “is also hearsay since these letters, ‘gospels,’ and stories were written by the loyal faithful, the camp followers, not by objective historians at that particular time, or by any contemporary writers, and these tales were written many years after the supposed events of this mythical Jesus.
“Thus, there is no verifiable evidence of a Jesus in real documented history. Then, many of these stories … were compiled for one self-absorbed converted Roman emperor in his Nicean Council for his expressed purpose of conquest and control of the people of Europe for his Holy Roman Empire. He recognized that this was the perfect religion/mythology for the future domination of the populaces.
“Half of the stories were ignored by the Nicean bishops and none have been proven to be based on fact. This ‘Bable’ book is backed up by absolutely no facts and no evidence. It is not proof for any god(s) … (or of any Jesus…). It is a historical novel…. The Bible is proof of a book only (certainly not evidence of any gods….).
Here’s my response:
“Actually, there’s more proof for the reliability, accuracy, and veracity of the Bible than the works of Plato, Herodotus, and Aristotle combined. Fragments of the Dead Scrolls reveal an accuracy of translation passed down for thousands of years. Archeological evidence swings in the Scripture’s favor almost daily. Well before the Nicean Council, the Old and New Testament canons had been completed and passed down through papyrus, parchment, codex, and whatever other material believers of the times could acquire.
“Far from being an invented figure, the Jesus of history is documented by historians such as Josephus and Pliny the Elder, along with various Roman and Jewish artifacts, even by people who didn’t believe on His name.
“Take any story of the Bible that you want to argue, yet only one of these has to be true to affirm the viability of Scripture: We believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins, my sins, and also the sins of the whole world, and that God miraculously raised Him from the dead three days later, having been seen alive by more than 500 witnesses. We believe that right now He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, and He ever lives to make intercession for those who would follow Him, including you.
“There’s more evidence for the presence of faith than its absence. There’s … the teleological argument, that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth reveals His handiwork. Deep within every human heart is a longing to know, to be restored by, and to be reunited with the God who created them for His very pleasure. As Augustine said years ago, restless is our heart until it rests in Him.
“Brien, I think if you had a chance to attend Hawesville Baptist Church, you would feel differently about your recommendation. You would be welcomed, loved, and befriended by folks who aren’t related primarily by genealogy but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. He loves you with an everlasting love, and if you’ll come to Him, He will do the same for you as He’s done for me and everyone else who has called upon His name: give life, peace, pardon, and a purpose that goes beyond anything this temporal world can offer.
“The truth is we don’t read the Bible; the Bible reads us, better than any book ever could. The greatest, most grace-filled irony in all the world than the human desire to know God is His even greater desire to know us. He wants to know you more than you want to know yourself. I pray that the God of this universe would reveal Himself to you and that you would receive His peace.
“If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”
Barry E. Fields, online at www.barryefields.org, is the former pastor of Hawesville Baptist Church in Hawesville, Ky., now completing his Ph.D. studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.