Guest / Limited Access /
Can We Trust the God of Genocide?
Image: Illustration by Rick Beerhorst

I recently taught a Bible class at our local Christian school. I was assigned the topic, "Can the Bible Be Trusted?" I prepared well—a skillful blending, I thought, of watertight arguments, personal anecdotes, and historical underpinnings. I gave a whirlwind history of the development of the canon. I toted out comparative stats on existing copies of ancient documents. I addressed the old vexing problem of the mystery cults and their relationship to Christianity. I told those students how the Bible was a wise and trusted guide in my own life. I gave examples. I delivered it all with what I thought was conviction and verve.

It was a flop. The students could barely stay awake.

I might have guessed the outcome from the get-go. I started with a question: "If anyone asked you why you trust the Bible, what would you tell them?"

It left them dumbfounded.

As I was leaving, a young man who had seemed especially bored in the class approached me in the hall.

"Thanks for coming," he said, surprising me. I asked him if I'd helped him answer the question, Why do you trust the Bible?

"No."

"Well," I said, "do you trust the Bible?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Hosea 13:16," he said.

"Remind me," I said.

With icy precision he quoted: "The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open."

Now it was my turn to be dumbfounded.

John Milton opens Paradise Lost claiming to "justify the ways of God to man." It's questionable whether he succeeds. It's ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedWhy You Can't Read Scripture Alone
Subscriber Access Only Why You Can't Read Scripture Alone
Studying the Bible in light of the Great Tradition.
TrendingA Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
The grand jury has made a decision in Ferguson, now we have to make ours. How will we respond?
Editor's PickStockpiling Treasures in My Junk Closet
Stockpiling Treasures in My Junk Closet
How I got rid of 1,000 things and finally found shalom.
Comments
Christianity Today
Can We Trust the God of Genocide?
hide thisJuly/August July/August

In the Magazine

July/August 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.