Hi Stephan. I promise promise promise you that we will get into the historical accuracy of the Bible. I've been so excited to talk about it, actually, that I started piecing together a response. But I won't give it to you now, because that would be jumping the gun. You're only asking for clarification, after all, of the two questions from my last post. I don't want to enter into new territory before we've even surveyed our immediate surroundings, you know?
So here I go:
I don't mean to sound like a broken record, Stephan, but I beg you to recognize this: when you say things like,
faith & the existence of God was real in an almost tangible way
what I was experiencing was consistent with the God & gospel message of the Bible
I've been 'pulled back' and again more fully experienced this relationship with God, which always comes as a result of God changing my heart to cause me to again desire to seek him, and again turn away from the sin that I had let in to my life.
I'm saying in my head, "Boy do I remember those days." Quite lucidly. I thought I felt God moving inside me, I felt God's love, I desired to experience God more, I thought I saw a harmony between reality and the Bible's teachings.
I don't any longer.
But (and again, broken record) even if still had these feelings, it still wouldn't be evidence that the Bible is true. Not any more than the claims of literally millions of Muslims saying the same things indicate that the Koran is true. I feel like every time I make this point, you simply restate your original claim.
Stephan, you must certainly understand why this answer is completely and fundamentally unsatisfying. In short, this is how I've felt our conversation has been going:
You: The Bible is truth. I've experienced it in my life.
Me: Muslims say the same thing. So does every other religious person. In fact, I've experienced those things.
You: I believe it because it is true. I've experienced its truth.
Me: Okay... so what makes your claims and experiences more credible than a Muslim's claims and experiences? You have criteria for disbelieving in the Koran; what would make you disbelieve your own text?
You: Belief in the Bible is central to my faith. I've experienced its truth in my life. On a personal level.
Now, I realize that personal experience and feelings aren't the only reason you have given. We'll address the rest, I presume, in the next letter. But in regards to this reason, I cannot say any more than what I have already said until you bring more to the table for conversation. No reasonable person could accept subjective emotional reactions as valid evidence for a truth-claim. For obvious reasons.
Henceforth I am simply going to respond to these claims by saying, "Relativistic and Non-unique" until you can show me otherwise.
So now that that's over with, let's look at the remaining parts of your message:
You say you would accept evidence of fabrication or deception on the part of the Biblical authors, although in your answer you bizarrely and unabashedly leave yourself a way to (somehow) still believe the Bible is incapable of error even then! Of course, you do mention a few times something that I haven't yet addressed (but I will!) - the historicity of the Bible. You bring that up several times. Your bare response (when all of the extravagant dressings of theological terminology have been stripped away) goes something like this:
What would make you doubt the Bible's veracity?
The Bible has the last word. It is true. I can feel it. It is historically reliable. I would entertain the idea that it is not if there were evidence of it being deceptive. But there isn't any: the Bible is factually correct. Therefore, I don't know how to answer.
What if another religious text had an equally factual telling of history and followers who felt their lives were changed, just like yours?
Again, I don't know how to answer. Nothing but the Bible can be true, because the Bible says so. I've experienced it. Nothing can cause me to turn away from my God. Unless there were fabrications. But there weren't. The Bible is factually correct.
Do your beliefs really not allow you to even entertain the thought that your Bible isn't the absolute authority on matters of religious ideas? Stephan, when we non-believers hear these kinds of responses, it just re-enforces our belief that the only way Christians can keep a conversation going is by employing endless and maddening circular reasoning.
If, however, you are willing to entertain the possibility that the Bible contains fabrication and error, let's talk about that next - after I let you respond to the rest of my previous message, of course.
One last note: nobody in their right mind would claim that the Old Testament was written after the New Testament. This is uncontroversial.