Last month, I got to take the trip of a lifetime. I got to go to Israel which, especially for a minister, is like letting a kid loose in a candy store. I ate up every single artifact, ruin, and historical site. I have read about these places for decades, but to actually be there — to see these them with my own eyes — is beyond description. There it was all right in front of me. I walked through the holy city of Jerusalem. I looked down upon the ruins of ancient Jericho. I prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane just down from the Mount of Olives. I sailed on the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Dan, Beersheba, the Jordan River — all of them — I was there. My eyes have seen what only my ears had heard. All of those places mentioned in the pages of the Bible actually exist.
One critique of scripture is that it’s just a book of myths and fairy tales. Stories created to provide a history and legacy for the Jewish nation. Fables of a Jewish rabbi invented decades later to provide a foundation for a new religion. Sure, there are some wonderful truths contained in this ancient book, but to actually believe that the stories have any historical basis is asking people to suspend their sense of reality.
Last month s,ome of my family got to take a trip of a lifetime. They got to go to London. In addition to taking in all the customary sites of the old town they took a side trip to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio tour. Here were some of the sets where the blockbuster movies were filmed. They saw Daigon Alley, The Great Hall, Gringotts Wizarding Bank, walked through the Forbidden Forest, and saw the Hogwarts Express. What an experience for those Harry Potter fans. Yet as mesmerizing and spellbinding that visit may have been, the fact of the matter is that all those places are fictional. There is no Hogwarts Express. There is no Wizarding Bank. There is no Daigon Alley.
That’s the difference between the Bible and Harry Potter. The world of Harry Potter is made up. It’s not real. And that’s okay because never does the author imply that her books are history. The world of the Bible is not made up. And that’s important because the Bible does make the claim that it’s talking about real people and real places. The Bible talks about Abraham, David, Jesus, and Paul as if they were real human beings who walked the earth. The Bible talks about Ur, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Capernaum as if they are actual places on a map. And although not every person or place mentioned in the Bible has been verified archaeologically, enough have been to lead to the undeniable conclusion that scripture’s claim to be the story of real people and real places cannot be reasonable disputed.
To believers, this adds a deeper layer to our faith. Since we can trust the Bible in regard to the historical and geographical details, we surely can trust it in matters of faith. To non-believers, it gives an air of credibility to an ancient text that many simply dismiss as being a work of fanciful fiction with little or no basis in history. The message of the Bible is too important to ignore based on the assumption that is on the level of Harry Potter.
I believe the Bible to be true. True in matters of history and, more importantly, true in matters of life and faith. The Bible is the true story of our God who created us and redeemed us. And I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Todd Catteau is the preaching minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison. He and his wife, Henriann, have four children and two grandsons. He is a native of Massachusetts and loves his Boston sports teams. His writings and links to sermons can be found at catteau.net