How does someone come to trust the Bible?
Let me suggest a simple answer: the same way one comes to trust a friend.
How do you learn to trust a friend? You start by first extending to that friend a small amount of trust. This sounds somewhat circular, but it is nonetheless true and necessary.
For any knowing process to begin, we must have a certain amount of faith.1 We cannot initially know for sure that our new friend tells the truth, but we must start somewhere. So, we listen and nod and assume the best.
What happens next?
The small amount of trust we have extended either increases or decreases as we come to know and experience firsthand the truthfulness of our new friend.
This kind of faith hop is not unreasonable. We do it every day. We trust that our senses are functioning properly to obtain information. We trust that our instruments for measurement are working well. Of course, sometimes we discover an error, and we must adjust accordingly. But the point is, to move forward in knowing and trusting, we must all start with a modicum of faith.2
So, how do you learn to trust the Bible? Start by extending to it a small amount of trust. Maybe you start with just one small faith assumption, namely, that it is worth reading.
If you can get there, then let me suggest that you start with one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John). And let us know here at HoboTheology.com. We would be happy to discuss what you find.
But don’t wait for a sign from heaven. Step out. Start the journey. Give the Bible a chance.
- This idea is not original to me. Michael Polanyi has written extensively about this type of epistemology. It has been developed further, along Christian lines, by Esther Lightcap Meek (2011) in Loving to Know: Covenant Epistemology and Kevin J. Vanhoozer (2016) in Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity. ↩
- Vanhoozer (2016) states, “If Polanyi is right, Christian theology is no worse off than modern science. Everyone has to have faith in something to get the knowing process started” (p. 100). ↩