Every year, usually at Christmas time, a so-called "mainstream" magazine takes up the topic of Christianity or the Bible. Often, Christians who believe the Bible get a fair hearing—other times, not so much. This latest time, it was Newsweek and journalist Kurt Eichenwald doing the "honors."
Here's the title: "The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin." Actually, this piece is so ill-informed that it's a sin—not just against God but against good journalism. Al Mohler had this to say: "[Eichenwald's] article is a hit-piece that lacks any journalistic balance or credibility. His only sources cited within the article are from severe critics of evangelical Christianity."
Actually, perhaps Dr. Mohler is being too kind! I only mention the Newsweek piece to make a point—that the Christian worldview is under assault 24/7, and we need to be prepared to make a rational, reasonable defense of the truth of the faith.
Of course, the Bible has plenty of allies, not the least of which is the discipline of archaeology. Over the years, we've told you about some of the fascinating discoveries that have confirmed the accuracy of both the Old and New Testaments.
For instance, secular scholars had long doubted whether King David ever actually existed—until, that is, archaeologists found extra-biblical evidence: a piece of stone from an ancient victory monument, which bore the inscription in ancient Aramaic, "King of Israel" and "House of David."
One recent archaeological discovery was big enough to make the front page of the Washington Post. As the Post reports, archaeologists digging beneath the floor of an abandoned building in Jerusalem's Old City have discovered the suspected remains of the palace where the trial of Jesus Christ may have taken place.
Yisca Harani, an expert on Christianity and pilgrimage to the Holy Land, said, "For those Christians who care about accuracy in regards to historical facts, this is very forceful."
Well, I dare say that we Christians certainly do care. After all, Christianity, unlike many other religions, makes certain historical claims, that God visited His people in space-time history. As the Apostle Peter said in Scripture, "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
Although our faith does not depend on archaeology, I can't help but get excited when a piece of holy history is unearthed for all the world to see.
And here's another reason to be excited about archaeology and biblical history: Next week, Monday January 19th, is a one-night showing of a compelling film entitled "Patterns of Evidence: Exodus." Filmmaker Tim Mahoney has tackled one of the thorniest issues in archaeology, one that actually pits many modern archaeologists against the biblical narratives: Did the Exodus really take place, or was it nothing more than a grand folk myth?
Mahoney interviews leading archaeologists. He takes us to digs on the Nile Delta and asks, were these the homes of Canaanite slaves? If so, why did they leave all of a sudden? Is the statue of an Egyptian official of "Asiatic" descent—one depicted with a multicolored coat—from the tomb of the biblical Joseph?
The argument, at least from the perspective of an archaeologist, hinges on one critical question, one that I'm not going to give away, because I hope you will go and see the movie.