I have previously noted that a number of common arguments raised by atheists and the Theological Left are recycled. That is, these are old arguments that are given new life by a recent author or by an article representing an old argument. One ramification of this is the answers for these questions are already established. In most cases, the only thing this demonstrates is that those republishing these arguments have failed to perform sufficient research. In fact, most of those who are critical of the Bible in the press have a tendency to ignore Evangelical scholars. (F.F. Bruce, Gleason Archer, and Nigel Turner are only some of the most important scholars in their field. Since they are Evangelicals, critics seem to have the attitude: “What could they possibly know?”). That being the case, what does this mean for the Christian today?
It means that the answers are already out there. While the critics of the Bible are certainly aggressive, and at times downright pugnacious, their smug certainty should be regarded either as a child who assumes more knowledge than he possesses or as someone who is using excessive energy to distract from the weakness of his case. This being said, how should the layman deal with assaults on the faith? Here are a few options:
• Ask your pastor. It is true not all pastors are seminary trained, but most men in the ministry should have a background with Biblical literature. Of course, different men will have different strengths and weaknesses. It is possible that apologetics may not be your pastor’s strength, but if nothing else, he should either know where to find an answer, or he should know someone who can direct him or you in the correct direction.
• Check a recent commentary by a contemporary Evangelical commentator concerning the passage being attacked. The older I become, the more impressed I am with current Evangelical scholarship; we have certainly been affected by periods of weakness, but the scholars are there. (Perhaps the true predicament is that Evangelical scholarship is ignored almost as much by Evangelicals as they are by atheists). Because we accept the Bible as the final authority for faith and practice, we have a distinct incentive to study the Bible carefully. It is simple arrogance by many to assume that an attack on the faith has actually taken all Christian thinkers by surprise.
• Check the New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer. I have mixed feelings concerning the various works on alleged discrepancies. Many of the works that are used on the lay-level are older, and were written during a time period when Evangelical scholarship was less developed than it is today. They do not always contain information that is up to date. Archer’s works are aging, since the author has gone on to glory, but Archer was a scholar of the first rank and his literature provides a good starting point.
So what resources might I have missed here?