Craig Blomberg – Can We Still Believe the Bible? [Feature Review]

June 26, 2015 — 2 Comments

 

PAGE 2: Craig Blomberg – Can We Still Believe the Bible?

 

In chapter six, Blomberg dismantles the claim that the Bible should be considered a mythical book, in the sense of a fictitious work, because of all the miracles it contains. He begins by carefully defining miracles as extraordinary events that temporarily suspend or transcend, rather than violate, the normal laws of the universe (179). Then, judiciously drawing on his own experience and Craig Keener’s recent, paradigm-changing work on miracles, which documents a substantial number of contemporary parallels to the supernatural accounts found in the New Testament, Blomberg proceeds to debunk Hume’s famous argument against miracles as fallacious: “It simply is not the case that a naturalistic explanation of events is always more probable than a supernaturalistic one” (180). He continues to deconstruct the argument that the Bible is mythical by disclosing how the alleged parallels with actual ancient pagan myths or legends have been grossly exaggerated (e.g., the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses, Apollonius of Tyana, the cult of Mithras, and the Egyptian gods Osiris and Horus). Lastly, he puts the debate to rest by showing how the biblical miracles are integral, purposeful accounts rather than random sensationalizing stories or arbitrary anthologies of wonders (201, 207). The New Testament miracles, in particular, “most centrally point to the arrival of God’s kingdom and therefore of God’s king, Jesus the Messiah” (211). In other words, while it is true that the Bible contains numerous miraculous accounts, Blomberg persuasively contends that it is entirely credible because they are unparalleled, purposeful, and still possible.

 

The following insight from Thomas Oden succinctly sums up the leitmotif of Blomberg’s work:

“A deeper faith is engendered by the balanced employment of doubt, critical debate, and measured skepticism, than by abruptly pretending to settle all moral ambiguities by narrow preemptive authoritarian appeals. Respect for the authority of scripture and tradition is not opposed to the power of critical reasoning, but rather invites its critique in order better to strengthen its modes of argument. Scriptural authority enables a deeper kind of reasoning, without which natural reason would be even more crippled and blind than it is”[1]

 

Following this vein, readers who seriously engage the arguments contained in this book will discover a reflective, reasonable, and rich Christianity that does not shy away from tough questions or hard facts. This work presents an astute apologetic for the reliability of the Bible from a seasoned biblical scholar and sincere believer who is comfortable with an honest measure of ambiguity. It constitutes a refreshing defense of a mature Christian faith that is comfortable in its own skin. I highly commend it.

[1] Thomas Oden, The Transforming Power of Grace (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), 70.