Sunday, June 24, 2007

Can We Trust The Gospels

Can We Trust The Gospels? by Mark D. Roberts, 2007.

I have a feeling this review will really be more about talking about the book then reviewing it. But whatever will be, will be. I had a hard time deciding if I even wanted to read a book called Can We Trust the Gospels? Since the answer is so easily apparent. Can We Trust the Gospels? Of course. It's a question that almost any believer should be able to answer without hesitation. And yet, that is making some assumptions on my part. That is assuming that everyone is like me. And they're not. No two people are alike. And so for some, this book may be of interest and may prove useful in answering some questions or doubts. So while I didn't have any practical need to read this book, I finally was able to concede the point that maybe there are people out there who do need it.

For me, answering this question has always been one of faith. If you believe in God, then you shouldn't have a problem in believing that the Bible is the Word of God. If you believe in God, then you shouldn't have a problem believing in the miracles that the Bible records. If you believe in God, then you shouldn't have a problem with the Bible being both written by human authors and inspired (God-breathed) by God. It's a God-thing. Some things you just have to accept by faith. I've never doubted that the gospels were historically reliable.

Yet Mark D. Roberts is writing to a different audience. He's not excluding believers in his audience. But he has a much broader audience in mind. He is trying to reach skeptics, doubters, unbelievers. Since I'm not in the above category, my opinions on how he does this aren't really relevant. Are his arguments logical? Are his arguments valid? Are his arguments persuasive? I couldn't really say. When you are already "convinced" in a way, when you're already on his team...then it becomes harder to judge the effectiveness of his arguments. Doubly so when you've never asked the questions he's trying to answer.

I will say this, however. I think that he will come across as too liberal to the conservatives, and too conservative to the liberals. In his stance to stay firmly in the middle and not align himself with either side, he makes himself a target for both groups. Some, I have no doubt, will say that he doesn't go far enough....and some will say he's gone too far. A person can't please everybody. And most often, they shouldn't even try. But the reason he takes this stance, I believe, is he wants to reach the widest audience possible.

While I had my doubts about some of his arguments--the phrasing of several things within the book--by the conclusion, I had no doubts as to which side Mark D. Roberts really falls when it comes down to it. He may spend a lot of time in the book being firmly in the middle trying to be fair to both sides and not rush to judgement, but by the end...you know what he really believes. What his conclusion essentially comes down to are several things...you either approach this issue with your mind firmly convinced that there is no god (atheist) OR you approach this issue with your mind firmly convinced that there is a god (theist). If you're of the first camp, there is no reasoning with you. You will never believe any argument that says that the Bible--New Testament--Gospels are historically reliable. Why? The miracles will never make any sense because you're too close-minded. If there's no God, then there's no miracles. And all Christians are crazy. If you're of the second camp, you're already either firmly convinced of the gospel truths...or you're well on you're way. If you believe in a supernatural being--then there is always a chance that you'll be open to the arguments that the Bible is indeed the Word of God and that they are reliable in every way. It always comes down to this basic assumption. Everything you read, everything you write, everything you believe comes down to this core belief. You can't escape this basic viewpoint...one way or the other.