There is a great amount of argument within as well as outside the Christian community about what type of document the Bible really is. Is it a long metaphor? Is it a spectacular work of fiction? Is it oral tradition written down for future generations? Is it an accurate historical document? Is it really the inspired Word of God? Any way that the Bible can be looked at, it is looked at.
Some non-believers consider it to be historically accurate and some so-called believers believe it to be predominantly a work of fiction. I can’t tell you how you should see the Bible, but I can tell you how I see it.
I believe the Bible to be an accurate historical document written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. From my own curiosity and the study that has developed from there, I believe that the Bible can be taken as literal and that it is historically accurate. Others may argue otherwise, but that’s their problem, not mine. (For a mindblowing study on the veracity of Genesis, see Is Genesis History? from Del Tackett—also of The Truth Project.)
If you believe the Bible to be fiction, I fear there is little hope for you. You get some good stories, well-developed characters, and a lot of unnecessary detail.
If you believe the Bible to be historically accurate, you’ve got a little more wiggle room. You get the good story, meet a lot of interesting people, and see a lot of amazing details along with many facts that really do line up with other historical accounts of the time. You’re at least halfway to the next step.
If you believe the Bible to be the Word of God, you’re set. You understand it a great piece of literature as well as a detailed book of history. And you know that the entire book is a grand story of salvation—which you are a part of.
Let’s back up, though. If the Bible is fiction, what’s the point? How could one book mean so much to so many people and top the bestseller list year after year after year? Is the story really that good? What do billions of people see in it?
If the Bible is history, we’ve got a lot of scholars. I don’t know of anyone who collects university textbooks the way many Christians collect Bibles. Why have so many in so many different translations? Apparently we have a lot of amateur historians on our hands.
If the Bible is the inspired Word of God, all of the questions raised by fiction readers and scholars alike would be answered.
Jesus’ disciples saw his do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life.
John 20:30-31 (NLT)
The truth is, the Bible is a great story. It’s entertaining. The story includes well-developed characters and intricate detail which is historically accurate because it is inspired by God himself. So why doesn’t everyone believe this? It’s all in what you’re looking for when you read it. If you read it as a story, you get a great story. If you read it as history, you get a better understanding of people and time they lived in. If you read it as the Word of God, you get revelation of who He is and all He has done. When you go looking in the Bible for answers, the Holy Spirit will reveal them to you.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
John 16:13 (NLT)
Daily Bible reading: Ezra 3-5, John 20