Monday, March 08, 2021

An open letter - please read!


Photos Courtesy of Unsplash

This is a letter that I wrote nearly ten years ago. The point I was making is just as relevant now as it was then. Thanks for reading this.

Dear John,

Notebook – The Independent 26.5.2010

My imagination was engaged as I started to read your piece on ‘The Bible Society’s debt to Arthur C Clarke?’ You had obviously carried out some good research about the Bible Society and highlighted some key statistics that would be very interesting to many people. I was then amazed that you chose to so violently misrepresent the teaching of the very book that the society has spent so long translating and making available to the world. For example, you chose to ignore that the Bible and Christianity have developed more education programs, opened more hospitals and changed more societies for good than the current world atheistic belief has ever done. Societies that have been successful (in theory) in establishing an atheistic state have generally produced as corrupt societies as capitalist ones but have neither been ultimately successful nor survived in the long run. All of this, however, only looks at the outcomes of the opposing world views without actually discussing the views' validity or plausibility.

Consider for a moment the genuineness of the biblical documents; you call them ‘stories, myths, legends etc. I would have imagined that a man of your intelligence would accept the validity and historicity of the Bible. Even Professor Dawkins accepts the validity of the record and recommends that every child should read it (“Richard Dawkins, the atheist author of The God Delusion, believes that children should grow up reading the Bible”. The Times May 10th 2007) even though he does not like what it says. The biblical record has been consistently proven to be accurate in terms of history and archaeology and even in the realm of science. However, the modern scientific world view is split between evolutionary belief and the biblical record of Creation (see The Genesis Enigma: Why The Bible Is Scientifically Accurate by Dr Andrew Parker, published by Doubleday). In terms of the New Testament record, especially regarding the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth and the claims to his resurrection, there is clear evidence and logic that it speaks the truth even if many do not wish to follow through with the logical question that ‘if this actually happened what does it mean for me?’ Many clever people have attempted to discredit and disprove the historical accuracy of the account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ but have been persuaded by the evidence that he must have risen from the dead (A couple of examples come to mind; see the end of the letter for details). How individuals respond to that information is up to them, but I believe that the evidence is there to be found.

As far as the conclusions you come to regarding the Old Testament, I understand your concerns and the issues you have with what seems to be the severity of the God of the Bible. I am unsure if you have read the whole biblical record and sought to understand the complete picture before coming to a conclusion. A careful analysis of the Bible will show that among many things, God is both holy (just, righteous, morally pure) and loving. One characteristic does not cancel out the other; in fact, his goodness and love of what is right demands that he deals justly with acts of sin and wrongdoing. Where people assume that God is acting out of order, a careful analysis of the facts will persuade them that he was acting to maintain what is right. If a judge in our times was confronted with evil behaviour, child abuse, rape and a whole range of anti-social behaviour that was illegal and detrimental to the good of society, we would not question his ‘goodness’ when he passed sentence and enforced a punishment that met the severity of the crimes. But when facing the examples of God’s judgment on nations that practised the very same activities, we question his goodness because he acts justly and righteously to deal with behaviour that breaks his laws and damages society. I am not sure if we are being consistent in our approach to the issues.

Ultimately God has revealed Himself in the Bible and is warning us that we are in danger of his coming justice and judgment due to our moral defection and sin (all of us). He had made provision for us all to flee from his coming judgement through the sacrifice of His own dear Son, Jesus. His offer to clear the legal case against us and offer us pardon, forgiveness and salvation is still on the table. That doesn’t sound like a vengeful, demanding, capricious, homophobic, merciless and tyrannical God to me.

I am requesting that you print this letter in ‘The Independent’, in full, without amendment and editing. Hopefully, the result will be that people can see that there is an alternative argument to the one you put forward and can decide for themselves where the truth lies.

With thoughtful and kind regards,

Stephen G Baker

The note referred to examples of legal minds who disproved the resurrection and were convinced that it must be true – this is a limited list; there are many more examples.

Dr Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he emphatically stated:

"it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD, . . ."
(Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29).

Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best-supported event in all of history!

And not only that, Dr Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!).

Dr Benjamin Gilbert-West and Lord Littleton were from Cambridge. So fed up with Christianity, they wanted to destroy it; they took a leave of absence to study and write a book to refute both the resurrection and Saul of Tarsus's conversion. As a result of their study, they too became ardent believers and wrote: "Reject not, until you have examined the evidence."

Dr Frank Morrison, a lawyer and engineer, was brought up in a rationalistic background. He liked Jesus but thought the resurrection was a myth that was tacked on. He, too, wanted to write a book to refute it, but he, like the others, committed his life to Christ in the process of writing. His findings are in the book "Who Moved the Stone"?


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