Copyright © 1997, by John Lankford, Fort Smith, Arkansas

     Why do people not accept the Old Testament world view as truth? Those who do accept the message of the Old Testament as truth, it is the very foundation for life and understanding the New Testament writings (Rom 15:4, Hebrews). But for others it is the foundation for nothing.


     First, many believe that the idea of God is just a human concoction. That is, God is just inferred in order to explain "mysteries." These people point out that all religions have this one thing in common. Hence, writings, sacred books, etc., are all based on human imagination or ideas.

     The above is not totally false. The idea that a God exists comes from the human mind. How else could it come about? Man sees nature, man infers, man concludes . . . that is the way man learns about the surety of God's existence (Rom 1:19ff).

     It is also true that many, like Shirley MacLaine, have written books that tell about having contact with a Someone "out there." Plus the cults have their sacred books. The Greeks had their whole team of gods and wrote about them. So, it is also true that men have created writings to go along with their "religious" claims. Often it is not the idea that God exists that is disputed but the factuality of the Old Testament that is disputed. It is simply lumped together with all other "sacred books" and labeled "myth."

     Second, there is this thing of personal autonomy. That is, the desire to rule one's self. In general, everyone wants to have his/her own way on a matter. It is hard to submit to authority, admit mistakes, and "line up" with how someone else sees it. Everyone has a natural desire to do things that are right in one's own eyes. To believe in the Old Testament world view would put one into a dilemma because, in the Bible, it is an act of rebellion against God to follow one's own self instead of submitting to God (Jer 17:15, Prov 3:7, Deut 12:8; and the case of Nadab and Abihu, Lev 10:1-3). So, to keep one's independence, the Bible is simply rejected as are all other types of religions that are authority-based.

     Third, there is this tension between the wrath of God and the love of God that affects people. On a recent program of "48-Hours," George Carlin, the cynic comic, explained to the audience the "absurdity" of God. He tells them that there is this invisible man up there that watches everything you do. And that He has 10 things you ought not do . . . because if you do them He will send you to a screaming, burning Hell forever . . . (Carlin pauses) . . . and then this God tells you He loves you!! Of course, there were rounds of laughter and applause. To believers, Carlin is a fool, but to the audience he is wise. How can Carlin's view of God be changed? What about his audience? If they see good works being done by the church would that prove that the God of the Bible is real and that the Old Testament is factual? No. What if they hear a sermon on self-esteem? Of course not. Will seeing "vibrant worship" do it? Hardly. What about preaching about the God revealed in the Old Testament? No. Nothing will change until Carlin and others believe in the factuality of the Old Testament . . . only then can you "talk content."

     Fourth, some sincerely ask why doesn't God just speak to us directly as He did in the Old Testament. Why does He hide Himself if He really wants us to believe? So, this "hide-and seek" stuff really frustrates people and makes them just say, "Forget it!" We understand their frustration.

     Fifth, there is this thing of not being able to find the truth on a religious matter. Since everyone thinks differently, because of his/her environment it is argued, that prevents them from ever agreeing on anything. That is, one's outlook can never be changed by facts. Hence, one world view, religion, or expression of Christianity is just as valid as another. So, the "search is off" as far as looking into the world view of the Old Testament and finding out what it really says. Islam, Samaritanism, Mormonism, Deism, Animism, etc., are all equally valid expressions of man's search for God-based outlooks pre-determined by culture. (This whole issue is called Post-modernism, and religious Pluralism is its fruit.)


     Some have heard either shaky evidences to prove the truth of the Old Testament or some laughable teachings that are supposedly what the Old Testament says that have caused doubt to prevail.

     example 1) Isaiah 40:22 says that God sits above the circle of the earth. Many of us have heard this quoted as "proof of inspiration" because it foretold the ball shape of the earth before its discovery. But plates are round . . . and flat. If the earth had this shape, God could still sit above the "circle of the earth" and look down. The point is that we are dealing again with picture-language and it is stretching it to make it say something about the shape of the earth. Remember, the Old Testament is to make us wise unto salvation and not wise as to how the universe goes (2 Tim 3:15).

     example 2) One of the more recent and sincerely taught ideas is that before Adam sinned there was no death of any living thing on this planet. This means that in the garden nothing died. Think about this. If Adam stepped on a roly-poly bug or ant or grub or worm, it would not die. There would be no food chains where big fish eat smaller fish etc. In fact, there would be no "humus" in the garden because it is decaying organic matter! The people that teach this are those involved in the Institute for Creation Science. Dr. Henry Morris is one of the leading expositors of this view. This is another case of "stretching it" too far as per the language of Genesis.

     example 3) Sincere people say that they have found Noah's ark. Maybe. But according to Dr. Harvey Porter, a respected archeologist and Christian, no archeologist of repute is an "arkeologist" or gives credence to their claims. The fact of the flood is not being disputed . . . it is the finding of the ark that is being questioned. In fact, the recent television program "In Search of Noah's Ark" was found out to be filled with fraud. This made national news. "Bogus facts" do not help the cause.

     example 4) The local newspaper here ran a section asking local ministers to give reasons why they believe in God. Some were good but others were dreadfully shallow. One preacher used most of his space to talk of his trip to Scotland and then told us that he believed in God because he saw a rainbow and that only God could make a rainbow. Actually kids in the backyard with a water-hose can make a rainbow. And that is probably what most people came up with. So the "evidence" fell flat as a flitter. When presenting evidences to the public, we need to spend time on the topic and get to the point.

     example 5) Most of us who were in college about 25 years ago probably heard about N.A.S.A. computer experts finding the "missing day of Joshua." This writer remembers trying to locate more information on the subject. It seems like every church bulletin and preacher mentioned it. It turned out to be a hoax (probably made by the same people that cooked up the "Search Noah's Ark" T.V. special). We've got to make sure that what we say can be documented and is backed by competent research.


     First, the problem today is UNBELIEF. So preaching God to the lost, letting them see our good works, being a good neighbor to the community, having lectureships on the family and marriage, etc., PROVE NOTHING and DO NOTHING to lay a solid foundation for having a faith based on fact. True, the church is to be full of "good works" (Eph 2:10), but a cornerstone of the edifice has been left out . . . and that is preaching the FACTUAL BASIS FOR THE BIBLE!!

     Second, people will believe something. Everyone has a world view. It is an act of faith. But some world views are not EVENT-BASED as the Old Testament is. In fact, the Judeo-Christian religion is unique by having a historical base. Our God acted in real-life and things were recorded and can be looked into. Being event-based, it is an umbrella for people, places, and things. We CAN assemble facts and establish reasons for faith.

     Third, the church around here has focused on " being a good neighbor" and providing a "place where visitors see how warm we are." We also want to preach "hope." People need "hope." But "hope must have its reasons." We are hitting all these important areas to the virtual . . . abject neglect of providing REASONS TO BELIEVE! Sure, someone may "join our club" by getting wet in the water but is it BLIND FAITH that motivates them? Is it responding to "warm fuzziness" or FACTS? (Please do not misunderstand . . . congregations need to be warm and have a sense of community, but if this is the hook to get them in, then our hook is just "warmer" than the cult down the street. The issue is DO WE HAVE A FACTUAL BASIS FOR EXISTING?? People need to know!)

     Fourth, someone has said that a faith unexamined is not worth having. That is true. But the current movement of the church today is to dish out to the public a teaching that they are expected to swallow without giving them any solid evidence that it is the truth. Hence, if they respond, they have an unexamined faith. And what if the "warm-fuzziness" of the congregation fizzles? Then those people are gone. They had no roots. They never were shown that what they believed is backed up by evidence as is no other religion. Church leaders need to get their head out of the "warm-fuzzy" sand and act on the reality of the present situation.


     This article has tried to show why some refuse to believe in the Old Testament world view and that some still doubt because they have heard very inadequate reasons for believing. Finally, it is advised that the church here (and elsewhere) get to the task of challenging unbelief and providing reasons to believe to those who are lost.

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West-Ark Church of Christ