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Why Should I Trust the Bible? (The Big Ten) by [Timothy Paul Jones]

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Why Should I Trust the Bible? (The Big Ten) Kindle Edition

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Length: 136 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

As a cold-case detective, I especially appreciate the work that Dr. Timothy Paul Jones has done in Why Should I Trust the Bible? This powerful book is a concise, accessible and evidentially powerful resource for believers and seekers alike. I highly recommend that you add it to your library if you are interested in truth and the claims of Christianity.
(J. Warner Wallace, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola, and author of Cold-Case Christianity)

From the Author

Excerpt from Why Should I Trust the Bible?
It's possible that you're someone who's perfectly willing to believe a story with or without evidence. Perhaps you repost stories on social media without ever checking to see if they might be urban legends. Maybe it's never occurred to you that believing a sacred text that exalts a wandering miracle-worker who's been missing from this planet for almost two thousand years is at least slightly strange. 

If that's you, don't bother reading this book, because I didn't write this book with you in mind. 

The words that I've penned in these pages are for people who fact-check every claim they see on social media and second-guess almost every story they hear. When it comes to trusting the Bible, this book is for people for whom skepticism has at some point felt more natural than faith.

In short, it's for people who are a lot like me. 

I haven't always been this way. Truth be told, I spent nearly two decades of my life assuming that conversations with an invisible friend were perfectly normal, as long as that friend's name happened to be Jesus. I didn't always do what I was told that Jesus desired. And yet, I never doubted that he was present, watching me from a gilded throne somewhere along the hemline of the Milky Way. Those assumptions began to fall apart for me at a library desk in a college town on the plains of northeast Kansas. For me, that desk became an altar where one form of faith died three decades ago and a better set of beliefs rose to take its place.

Lies I Learned about the Bible 
I started college in the gap between U2's Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby! albums, in the year that Macauley Culkin stayed home alone and Wilson Phillips held on for one more day. Prior to my first semester of college, it had never occurred to me to question anything I read in the Bible. In the churches that my family attended, any doubts about the Bible were met with a curious combination of hubris and fear. The polyester-clad pastors of these churches seemed cocksure that there were no problems or difficulties to be found in the Scriptures. And yet, even the slightest question about potential difficulties seemed to trigger terrified outbursts at the decadent culture in which our church stood as a lonely fortress of authentic faith.

In my early teenage years, the proofs that I heard bellowed from those plywood pulpits seemed ironclad. I knew the earth had to be thousands of years old--not billions--because one pastor had shown us a photograph of human and dinosaur footprints fossilized side-by-side in the Paluxy riverbed in Texas. I trusted the hand-copied manuscripts that preceded our printed Bibles because a speaker at a preaching conference I'd attended had told us that these words had been preserved for thousands of years without a single copying variation, if you looked in the right manuscripts. I knew the Bible had to be precise even in the most minute scientific details because I'd heard about astronomers at NASA who found a mysterious gap in planetary movements from the distant past; the missing time remained a mystery until the scientists corrected their calculations to include the time when the sun "hasted not to go down about a whole day" according to the book of Joshua in the Bible (Joshua 10:13 KJV). 

As far as I could tell, the only reason that anyone might find it difficult to trust the Bible was because they were rejecting evidences that were obvious to everyone.

And then I went to college. 

No one in my family had ever earned a college degree, so I had no idea what to expect when I started classes that August. It was a Christian college, and most of the professors believed the Bible--but not in the same way that I'd been taught to believe the Bible. When I mentioned the Paluxy riverbed footprints in a class discussion of the book of Genesis, the professor seemed unimpressed and asked for citations that referenced newspapers or academic journals. It wasn't long before I discovered that the evidences I had heard from the lips of preachers and conference speakers were little more than fundamentalist urban legends. NASA has never misplaced a day; not one of the surviving hand-copied portions of the New Testament agrees completely with all the others; and, the fossilized footprints in Texas were never human in the first place. There were other similar claims that had shaped my childhood theology as well. And yet, the more I learned, the more these meager evidences began to fracture under an unrelenting freight of facts.

It was around this time that I began working evening shifts at a library to pay my way through college. Each evening, after shelving the books that had been returned that day, it was my responsibility to monitor a mostly-empty library from a desk near the entrance--which provided me with access to tens of thousands of books and plenty of time.

What I discovered while re-shelving books and magazines was a deep ore of writings that resonated with my growing frustration with the fabricated claims that had supported my faith. One of the first such books I read was Bertrand Russell's bluntly-labeled collection of essays Why I Am Not a Christian. After that, I found a book by G.A. Wells that asked Did Jesus Exist?, followed by a mixed bag of conspiracy theories about the resurrection of Jesus. Not all of the books were equally convincing, but every one of them chipped away at assumptions I had held since childhood.

By the time winter leached the last remnants of green from the patchwork of wheat fields that surrounded this college town, I was skimming early papers from the Jesus Seminar and consuming as many back issues of The Humanist magazine as I could find. I plowed through every book on the stack of shelves labeled "Atheism," and I was enthralled. Each text felt like an intellectual feast of forbidden fruit, thrilling yet chilling because I was gingerly treading pathways that I had never even considered before.

At some point in that journey, I passed through a door that I did not recognize until it was behind me. When I turned to look back through the door, I saw the faith I had learned in the churches of my adolescent years crumbling into ashes on the other side.

I do not miss it.

Faith, Facts, and Evidence 
Today, three decades after I read Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian for the first time, I embrace many of the truths that I struggled to believe during that year or two of doubt as well as some beliefs that I never even knew when I began that journey. I believe in a divine Messiah who drew his first ragged breath between a virgin's knees, a wandering teacher who called his followers to seek justice for the marginalized and to identify with the oppressed, a crucified Jew who checked out of his own tomb alive and well, and a risen King who commissioned his followers to proclaim the good news of his kingdom in every nation. I believe the prophecies that point forward to him in the Old Testament and the recollections about him that fill the New Testament. I believe that God will one day re-create this world and flood every crevasse and crest of the cosmos with equity and justice. I believe that the Bible--as it was originally written and intended to be read--tells the truth.

I do not accept any of these claims blindly. I am fully aware that I and billions of others around the globe might be wrong, and there are moments when I feel the weight of this possibility more strongly than others. Yet the deeper I've delved into the claims of Scripture, the more I've come to believe that this faith makes the best sense of the evidence.

Why Should I Trust the Bible? is a journey through the reasons and evidences that God used as a means to draw me back to faith--but it's not only a journey, it's also an invitation. It's an invitation for you to join me on this journey and to consider where it might lead you.

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