Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Most every remembrance and celebration by Christians of certain events in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ the media will also have something to say. Most often this occurs around Christmas and Easter, two of the most well-known by both Christians and non-Christians and the most celebrated by Christians.
More often than not the secular media seeks to present articles that will call into question the historicity of these events, doubting the supernatural/miraculous. In essence, since they begin with a presuppositional bias against the miraculous when they encounter the miraculous in the Bible they read and interpret it according to their bias: it is mythical, legend, fabricated, etc. It is unlikely they approach other historical documents in the same manner, but redemptive history as recorded in the Bible often gets “special” treatment.
This year the attack was not against the Christ of Christmas but the Bible. And it was not just the Bible’s account of Jesus’ miraculous conception (importantly, this is not the immaculate conception) and virgin birth but the Bible in total. Kurt Eichenwald wrote the lengthy cover article for Newsweek: “The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin.”
In this particular instance, it is not just that Eichenwald has a different view of the Bible than Evangelicals do, but that he misrepresents the Word of God and those who affirm its authority and sufficiency. This is an example of writing from caricature and ignorance (I do not use the term with moral overtones), not honestly dealing with potential or apparent problems with the Bible. On the one hand it is so over the edge and such a misrepresentation of good, careful research, even if he does not affirm the Bible as the Word of God, that it is difficult to take it seriously. But on the other hand, since it appears in such a magazine and people will read it and conclude it is an accurate portrayal of the Bible, it is imperative that we respond to it.
It is not that the Bible cannot be questioned or that Christians are opposed to questions or objections being raised against the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word and can stand up to any and all questions and objections. God’s Word is true (Ps. 119:160; Jn. 17:17), like a fire and hammer (Jer. 23:29), living and active (Heb. 4:12) and a whole lot more (cf. Ps. 119).
Here are a number of excellent responses I commend to you. However, before you read these responses, I encourage you to read Eichenwald’s article and find the problems in it and develop a response to it, if even only mentally, before reading these below. Once you have done your own homework, then read and learn from these others.
Daniel Wallace, Predictable Christmas fare: Newsweek’s Tirade against the Bible
Ben Witherington, News Weak—- The Problems with Mr. Eichenwald’s Article
And then once you have done this, follow a similar exercise with the elders and other leaders of the church. Help them to think through these important matters related to the Bible, how to defend its authority and sufficiency, and how to respond to the common-day objections to it.
Finally, please plan to join us for our upcoming Theology Conference, January 28-30, where we will address this and many other matters in our focus on The Doctrine of the Scriptures.