When I was a kid, I thought God wrote the Bible. I thought the books of the Bible were chapters. It only took one or two Sunday School lessons to learn that I was wrong. I learned that the Bible is comprised of different books, originally written in different languages, by different authors, written at different times. The Old Testament and The New Testament are 400 years apart.
When I learned that the books of the Bible were written by men, I thought God told them what to say word for word. Then I learned that the books were inspired by God.
Every Christian is taught that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. It contains no mistakes. It is inspired completely and in its very words—“verbal, plenary inspiration.”
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” But that doesn’t mean everything in the Bible actually happened. The Bible was written for us all, but it was not written to us. It was common practice in the ancient world to use an event (or memory of an event) and retell it in a figurative way to communicate a message to the hearers.
My wife asked me if I believe in the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah in how it got destroyed and how Lot’s wife got turned into a pillar of salt for looking back.
I said, “I don’t know.”
My wife, being a Christian, got really concerned for me. As if I’m losing my faith because I’m not sure if a story in the Bible actually happened. What I am not sure about is whether Sodom and Gomorrah got destroyed for sexual sin and if Lot’s wife was an actual woman who got turned into salt for looking back.
Even if the story is folklore based off a real event, it doesn’t take away the message of the story. It’s still a good lesson in not looking back on your old ways.
If Sodom and Gomorrah were real places that got destroyed then it is more likely that it was a natural disaster rather than God literally throwing fire and brimstone for their sins.
What Christians must realize is that in ancient times, groups of people could be and often were described as individuals. Nations were named after people. A pillar of salt named “Lot’s wife” is located near the Dead Sea at Mount Sodom in Israel. So Lot’s wife is more likely referring to the whole city and not an individual human being.
As a kid I thought Jesus Disciples wrote things down as they followed him and recorded his sayings and miracles. They probably did, but we don’t have any surviving manuscripts in the Bible. The books of the New Testament were written 40+ years after Jesus Crucifixion.
I’m not suggesting that the story of Jesus is false, but I will say that it’s important to research who were the authors of the Bible, what was the culture surrounding the author when they wrote the Gospel, and how did they learn of the story of Jesus when they wrote the Gospel.
Growing up in church all I ever learned was how to interpret the Bible into a message for today’s problems. Thats how most of us Christians are. But it’s also important to know who wrote books and know that some books in the Bible don’t have a conformed author.
It’s important to know the historical context in which the book was written. Like if my articles are read 2,000 years from now. It would be important for the reader to know who I was as person, what I believed, and how the culture of America was when I wrote the article. Because I’m not writing to people 2,000 years from now. I can’t even imagine what a world would be like.
Faith is believing in what we can’t see and don’t know. But there’s a lot of things about the Bible that we can know or understand better that will strengthen or weaken our faith. I think most Christians are more afraid that they’ll lose their faith by the more facts they seek.