Why Do Christians Base Their Lives on a Book?
Honest Answers : Episode 002
Sometimes Christians get criticized for “basing their lives on a book.” It is true that Christians do take the Bible as the word of God for, well…everything. But is this unreasonable? Are there better options out there? In the second installment of Honest Answers, we address this important issue to show why it only makes sense to look to the bible as your guide in life and death.
HA 002: Why Do Christians Base Their Life on a Book
The question we have for today is: Why do Christians base their life on a book?
Now, it does sound kind of odd to talk about basing your whole life on a book. And Christians do in fact do that—and the book is called the Bible.
Now, why do we do that? I’m going to answer that question in two ways.
First of all, I’d like to ask a question back. What do most people base their life on?
What do you base your life on? How do people come up with information that helps them know who and what they are, how they should make decisions, what’s good and true and beautiful, what’s to be praised, or what’s to be criticized? When you think about it that way you start to realize the big issue. Whatever I base my life on has to have a lot of authority, has to be able to take all those considerations into account.
There seems to be three main things that people base their life on in our society.
1. First, a lot of people would say they base their life on “whatever seems right” to them, or whatever seems reasonable. This usually ends up being a hodgepodge of things—maybe some religious teachings they’ve heard as a kid; maybe something their friend said that made sense; maybe some general ideas that float around in the culture, or a movie they saw. So, you end up with sort of a grab-bag of ideas that people piece together, and the standard that they use to piece together how something should be believed or not believed is usually just their own feelings. So what we should realize is that most people just operate out of their own opinions. If they think something makes sense, if they think an idea is good or true, they take it for themselves. Now, if I was going to sell you a house and I walked you to the foundation to inspect it, and you saw that the foundation was made up of a bunch of different materials, maybe some old crushed up kids toys or maybe some sand dumped into a hole, and maybe a little bit of brick here, and a little cement, and I asked you how this foundation was put together and you said, well, it’s whatever I thought would work at the time… I don’t think that you would buy that house. So, you have to see that basing your life on something is even a bigger decision than building a house. Clearly we can’t go with whatever you think, that’s not a good thing to base your life on some people.
2. Some people attempt to base their life on Science, but most people misunderstand what science is. Science, by its very definition, isn’t going to give us enough information to base our life on. Science can’t tell if someone should be murdered, or helped. Science can’t tell you if you should oppress people or help them survive or flourish. Science can’t tell you if a baby should live or should die. All science can do is collect data about those situations and give you sets of numbers to work with. Science isn’t really available as a solution to base our lives on.
3. The third thing that people bring up as a system of thought to base your life on is the idea that everyone agrees on certain truths—we could call this is “cultural” way of thinking. The ideas is, “Well everyone knows that certain things that are right or wrong.” But we know historically that that’s not true, there have been major things that people have disagreed on. Even right now there are huge disagreements in our culture. And even if our culture has a whole agrees on something, we can find other cultures where they feel differently. So just appealing to, for instance, that “everybody knows that consent is necessary in this situation,” is simply not something to base you life on. It’s not big enough or solid enough.
Now, I know that that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to say “well sure then, give me a book to base my life on”. I understand that even if we see flaws in the way we typically make our decisions, it’s not going to make people run to a book.
So then, why do Christians choose a book?
Here’s the key: it’s not simply a book that we have chosen. It’s a record of times God appeared in the word and told us things that were true. So when Christians say that they base their life on the Bible we’re not just saying that we picked a book that we liked. We’re saying that here we have a collection of documents, eye witness accounts of God in the world, information straight from God himself through human beings. Everything from the life of Jesus to what happened after Jesus walked on the earth, to the work and moving of the Holy Spirit. We have eye witness accounts from the time of Jesus himself and also before Jesus came down—when God came to the top of a mountain, or split a sea in half, or when he dropped fire down from heaven in response to a prayer.
I understand a lot of people don’t believe these things happen, but that’s what the Bible claims to be. And in a unique way, when you take the Bible at its word and you put your trust in its claims, an amazing thing happens—you actually come to meet the author of the book. And that’s why Christians have based their lives on the Bible throughout the years. First of all, it makes good and honest historical claims. I really recommend that you look into the claims of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how historically reliable they are. Secondly, when you trust it and seek to live it out, you grow to know the God who is actually the book’s main character. Christians have came to see how reliable the book is historically, how it introduces God to them, how you know God, and how their lives change. They come away utterly sure that they should base their whole life on the Bible. When someone comes along and says, well, that seems like a small thing to base your life on. They know it’s a huge thing. It’s delivered on its claims.
If Christians are asked, “why do you base your whole life one a book?” we respond in two ways.
One, the Bible is the best option out there. It’s better than a hodgepodge of opinions, science, or assuming that everyone agrees on cultural things even though they don’t.
Second, the Bible is a record of things God did and said in history.
And as a bonus, when you trust the words of the book, you meet its Author. All these things give the Bible a compelling claim as to why to base your life on it.
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