From the time the Bible was put together and published readers and skeptics have questioned its trustworthiness and believability. Some have gone beyond simply questioning it to attacking and ridiculing it.

Christians in general believe the Bible, but there are times and occasions in which they also wonder and ask if all of it is true and believable. Doubts are planted about the Bible’s trustworthiness when seekers and critics ask believers questions they cannot answer.

Earlier this summer I was given the opportunity to receive and read a new book about this issue if I would write a brief review of it. The book’s original title was WHY SHOULD I TRUST THE BIBLE? but was changed to answer the original question to WHY I TRUST THE BIBLE. The book’s subtitle gives specific content: ANSWERS TO REAL QUESTIONS AND DOUBTS PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT THE BIBLE.

The author of this helpful and solid book is Bible scholar William D. Mounce. His brief bio on the back of this paperback will give readers confidence that this book will answer many questions about the Bible’s reliability. In the Preface Mounce tells his readers that “As I’ve been writing, I have kept university freshman and their parents in mind.”

Subjects and topics Mounce covers include The Historical Jesus, Contradictions in the Bible, Why Do We have the Twenty-Seven Books in the New Testament?, Translations, and The Old Testament. Just reading that list probably sparks interest for many readers.

Having read the book, as I leaf through my copy I am surprised by the many sentences I underlined and comments I made in the margins. Why I Trust The Bible is not overly scholarly and is very readable.

I especially appreciated Mounce’s closing two sentences: “The Bible is worthy of our trust, and it can stand up to scrutiny. I have staked my life and my future on it; I trust you will as well” (p. 269). I agree with his assessment of the Bible and also his testimony.

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The Barna Research Group recently published the results of their study of the top Bible-Minded Cities and the Least Bible-Minded Cities in 2017. I wasn’t surprised by the results, but the results are not what interested me.

I was interested in what they mean by Bible-minded. Here is the explanation: “Individuals considered to be Bible-minded are those who report reading the Bible in the past week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.” While the results with regard to the cities did not surprise me, I was surprised to learn that “Nationally, only 25 percent of the population is considered Bible-minded.”

Given their definition, are you Bible-minded? Do you read the Bible at least once a week and do you believe the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches? The first part of the question is easy to answer, but the second part is slippery. What makes it slippery is that not all Bible readers agree on the principles it teaches.

Certainly we should and do need to read the Bible. Pastor and theologian Eugene Peterson makes that clear when he writes, “Read the book!” I agree with the first part of his next sentence, but am uneasy with the second part of it: “The meaning is in the book; not in the information about the book.” Yes, the meaning is in the book, but the meaning is not always obvious.

Often we get help in understanding the meaning of the Bible by reading or hearing what others say about the book. As a Bible teacher, I was affirmed and encouraged by a reminder from John G. Stackhouse, Jr. in which he notes “God gave his people teachers, as the Bible itself affirms, precisely because much of the Bible is not easily understood.” As we read the Bible we can benefit in understanding the principles it teaches by consulting trusted teachers of the Bible.

I wish the research group’s description of what it means to be Bible-minded added a third criterion. To be Bible-minded, I would add one needs to submit to and obey the principles the Bible teaches. That’s Jesus point in his close to the Sermon on the Mount about two builders (Matthew 7:24-27). Hearing Jesus’ words and putting them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. But hearing Jesus’ words and not putting them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

It is not enough just to read the Bible. Nor is it enough just to believe the principles the Bible teaches are true. We need to apply them in our lives. Too often we read the Bible, and strongly assert the principles it teaches are accurate, but fail to allow what we have read to shape our lives. When that happens I’m not sure we are really Bible-minded. To be Bible-minded we have to read the Bible, believe that the principles it teaches are accurate, and put those principles into action.

Are you Bible-minded?

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