January 25, 2014
Psalm 19:7 "The Testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple."
In the March 1, 2013 Wall Street Journal, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett wrote the article "Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible". Here’s parts of that article: "Have you ever sensed in your own life that ‘the handwriting was on the wall’? Or encouraged a loved one to walk ‘the straight and narrow’? Have you ever laughed at something that came ‘out of the mouths of babes’? Or gone ‘the extra mile’ for an opportunity that might vanish ‘in the twinkling of an eye’? If you have, then you’ve been thinking of the Bible.
These phrases are just ‘a drop in the bucket’ (another biblical phrase) of the many things we say and do every day that have their origins in the most read, most influential book of all time. The Bible has affected the world for centuries in innumerable ways, including art, literature, philosophy, government, philanthropy, education, social justice and humanitarianism. One would think that a text of such significance would be taught regularly in schools. Not so. That is because of the ‘stumbling block’ (the Bible again) that is posed by the powers that be in America.
Yet the Supreme Court has said it’s perfectly OK for schools to do so, ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp) that ‘the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.’ The Supreme Court understood that we’re not talking about religion here, and certainly not about politics. We’re talking about knowledge. The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin."
Are you aware of this? Our own Supreme Court ruled it’s OK?? Do you, the average taxpayer in Missouri, understand your children are being ‘short-changed’ (more Bible) by not learning the history of the greatest book ever written? Let me share a great example of someone who, after going through university studies and being convinced by his professors that the Bible was just ‘fairy tales’, ended up speaking at Harvard University to defend the first-rate historical scholarship of Luke and the biblical book of Acts.
His name was Sir William Ramsay, the first Professor of Classical Archaeology at Oxford University, holder of 9 honorary doctorates, and, due to his desperate search for any information on Asia, finally turned to the Bible and the Book of Acts, and became recognized as the leading authority on the history of Asia Minor.
You see, only one ancient book exists that provides any historical record of anyone traveling in Asia Minor in the first century – the Book of Acts. But Ramsey was taught in public school that it’s a religious book, not a history book. So he ignored it. But he soon discovered he had no choice but to investigate it if he wanted to understand first-century Asia Minor, because no other book existed on the subject!
In his book ‘The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament’, Ramsay tells how he came to change his mind: ‘Luke’s narrative was trustworthy.. There was nothing else like it. No other ancient traveler has left an account of the journeys which he made across Asia Minor [Xenophon gives little more than names and distances]…" His detailed study of Acts 13-21 showed that the New Testament could bear a scholar’s most minute scrutiny for the facts of the first century Greek history and come out being praised as a model for historical reliability and accuracy.
When Ramsay was invited to visit the United States to lecture at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Union Seminary, New York, he had completed his investigation of the Book of Acts and shared in his lectures his conclusion: ‘Our hypothesis is that Acts was written by a great historian, a writer who set himself to record the facts as they occurred… The author of Acts is not to be regarded as the author of historical romance, legend, or third or second-rate history. Rather he is the writer of an historical work of the highest order...’
As our verse from Psalm 19 this week says: ‘If you wish to become a person who is wise, read and take to heart the testimony of God from His Word.’
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called "Faith: Substance and Evidence." He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.