Some Liberal theologians have at times pointed out that our view of the Bible does not really matter. So long as we gain strength and insights from it, they say, that is enough. Following this line of reasoning, they remove many miracles of the Bible or simply treat them as myths. This brings me to an all too puzzling issue, for years people from all walks of life have constantly referred to the people in the bible as “characters.”
Perhaps this is no big deal at all but it is interesting and brings about the question why is it that other historical people in many other history books are not consistently referred to as characters. The Bible is filled with real people, human people who experienced real trails, tragedies and triumphs just like us, and just like us, some of them could at times be considered a character, at least figuratively speaking. Our view of the Bible matters immensely, especially if what it claims is indeed true. If it is, as we as Christians have argued, and it is, then our eternal destiny hinges on how we will respond to Christ and His calling. Will we reject Him or accept Him?
Consider the things we think of when we hear the word “character”. During a cable television station campaign they used the tag line “characters wanted” when they were looking for new fictitious shows and other entertainment content. Real people employed in the entertainment industry are paid to portray someone else other than himself or herself, an actor playing a role a “character” to entertain us. Children watch animated programs where the animated people are known as “characters”, as a person in a novel, a play, or movie is in fact a fictional character played by a real person.
Therefore, when we refer to the people in the Bible, as characters are we saying they were not real people, they did not really exist, and that it is all made up, make believe. Exactly what are we saying? Perhaps the best way to describe how the Bible portrays its characters is “human” because they are, in fact, very real human beings. The Bible is true and the people that inhabit its pages were real people with real problems. The Bible does not shy away from presenting both the strengths and weaknesses of those it portrays. This makes the people in the Bible “practical” in the sense that we can relate to them and educational in the sense that we can learn from their successes and failures.
Although, different writers wrote the Bible many centuries ago, the messages it contains are coherent and consistent. The Bible presents a coherent theology and worldview, and it presents this material consistently. Moreover, the Christian worldview is robust, reasonable and grounded in history. Evidence for the Bible can take many forms. There is, for instance, physical evidence. We have copies of the manuscripts and throughout history, these copies show that the Bible has been transmitted accurately. Other physical evidence includes archeological finds. The Archaeological Study Bible presents many notes and articles documenting how archeology has repeatedly proven that the Bible does correspond to historical reality. There are other kinds of evidence that the Bible is true. These have to do with internal consistency and coherence. When we discuss events in history, we refer to them as accounts, or factual accounts, or historical accounts, when the Bible events are discussed, they are often referred to as stories.
Despite common skeptical claims that the Bible has often been changed through the centuries, the physical evidence continues to tell another “story” called facts. The New Testament records are incredibly accurate. There are minor differences in manuscripts, called variants, but none of these variants impact or change key Christian beliefs or claims.
“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,” – Philippians 1:18