More on the importance of the Bible

So, last time we looked at several reasons the Bible still has importance in today's society, even among those who don't believe its spiritual message. It has great literature, useful wisdom, and literary references we need to understand much literature.


In addition, our language has been enriched by the Bible as well. Think about these phrases: the tower of Babel, an eye for an eye, the scapegoat, the promised land, the valley of the shadow of death, inherit the wind, feet of clay, my brother's keeper, the straight and narrow, the handwriting on the wall, a house divided against itself cannot stand, a pearl of great price, the blind leading the blind, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword, the meek shall inherit the earth, the salt of the earth, a city on a hill, turn the other cheek, oh ye of little faith, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the good Samaritan, eat drink and be merry, the prodigal son, born again, doubting Thomas, a Damascus Road conversion, it is more blessed to give than to receive, the wages of sin, you reap what you sow. These all have their origins from biblical passages. In addition, all sorts of common terms have come straight from the Bible – heaven, hell, angel, devil, Satan, atonement, Antichrist, Armageddon, apocalypse, babel, evangelist, mission, pagan, redeem, sabbath, testament, worship, Messiah, philistine, scapegoat.


We have been discussing the value of the Bible. In past blog posts we mentioned its great literature, worldly wisdom, literary inspirations, and its words and phrases that have entered our language. Let's end this discussion on perhaps its most important characteristic--the Bible is the cornerstone book of the Western world. Think about what we value in our society – an emphasis on the individual, the elevation of women, freedoms and civil rights we enjoy, the development of science, the emphasis on laws, our morality, our economic system. All these owe their ascendancy in the West to the Bible.


In recent research 41 outstanding teachers said that knowledge of the Bible is crucial for a good education and provides an educational advantage. Another survey of leading figures at secular colleges said the Bible is the key book for high school students to know.


It might be good to end with several interesting quotations about the Bible. One person said, "The Bible is the learned man's masterpiece, the ignorant man's dictionary, the wise man's directory." William James, the famous psychologist, noted that "the Bible contains more exquisite beauty, more morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than can be collected from all other books." Reid Buckley, a person who trains professional speakers, claims that if someone doesn't read the Bible, he/she is "irreparably ignorant and culturally deprived."

Let's get going--the Bible as literature

I teach a class at Palomar College--The Bible as Literature. I thought people might like to see some of the material we cover, so let's get started.

Having taught a survey course in Biblical literature at Palomar College for a number of years, I have seen the need for some introductory material to help students understand many things: the culture of Biblical times, geography of the areas discussed, key names/places/events, an historical outline to be able to place the events in perspective, introductions to each book of the Bible, literary terms, and other important elements. So, in a series of blog posts, I'd like to share the kind of material I have gone over with my past classes. I will cover several key areas: the importance of the Bible, the history of the Bible itself, the history of the Bible world (very brief!), the geography of the Bible world, how to read the Bible, introductions for each book of the Bible, and literary devices found in the Bible.

Let's start by examining the importance of the Bible in today's world. There are those who believe the Bible is only important for pious Christians and Jews who look at it for its theological significance. As a result, they don't read it, and we end up with a biblically illiterate society. But the Bible has tremendous value beyond its theology.

First, it is a repository of some of the world's best literature. Think of just the stories that are in the Bible – Noah and the Flood, Abraham and Isaac, David and Goliath, the ministry of Jesus, the missionary trips of Paul. In addition, some of its poetry ranks with the best the world has produced. A portion of Isaiah is inscribed at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The Bible has parables, history, letters, tragedies, and comedies throughout its pages.

Secondly, the Bible contains a lot of worldly wisdom. Take the book of Proverbs. Verses there discuss the value of relationships, money and financial wisdom, success in dealing with time constraints, the role of parents, the best way to deal with criticisms, the types of friends to have, and other practical advice. It's no wonder that many people go through one chapter of Proverbs a day. By the end of the month, they have finished the book and gained wisdom.

The Bible is also the source of many literary inspirations. Think about the opening three words of Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael." We will understand the character in the book so much better if we recognize the name Ishmael from the book of Genesis. Ernest Hemingway had a book called The Sun Also Rises, which takes its title from a passage in Ecclesiastes. One scholar claimed that Shakespeare had 1300 allusions to the Bible in his works. Other writers who were influenced by the Bible include John Milton, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, C. S. Lewis, Flannery O'Connor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Leo Tolstoy, T. S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, and too many others to name. Of course, music, sculpture, painting, and other fine arts owe much to the Bible.

We'll cover more on the importance of the Bible in the next post.


Welcome To The Official Website of San Diego County Apologetics Network

We are Christians from various churches all over San Diego County who share an interest in apologetics, and have a strong desire to equip God’s people to use apologetics as a valuable aid in evangelism. Apologetics is a rational defense of the Christian faith.  It includes the use of history, science, philosophy, theology, and other disciplines—with the goal of removing obstacles that prevent unbelievers from considering Christianity. We are committed, however, to teaching apologetics at a practical level. Our desire is that all students be able to understand and successfully apply apologetic knowledge and tactics with family, friends, co-workers, fellow students, and anyone else our Lord brings into their lives.

We at SDCAN believe all Christians should be able to defend their faith in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christianity. The apostle Peter commanded us to do exactly that 1 Peter 3:15. Likewise, the apostle Paul repeatedly defended Christ as he interacted with Jews and pagans. Our Lord Himself told us to love God with our minds as well as with our hearts.

Apologetics has other important benefits. Many Christians can testify that apologetics is highly affirming to their faith. It removes doubts and gives greater confidence to share the gospel without fear of being unable to answer the tough questions. Likewise, apologetics can be crucial for preparing high school and college students to identify and resist the anti-Christian rhetoric and philosophies they will encounter in secular colleges and universities. For the non-Christian, apologetics can remind him/her that Christianity is worth thinking about.

We faithfully believe that God is the ultimate agent of conviction and conversion—and the power behind all successful evangelism. We recognize that the Holy Spirit has successfully used apologetics in the lives of many of Christendom’s great thinkers.

To accomplish our goals at San Diego County Apologetic Network, we have set out to accomplish several things:

1. Offer a certificate course in apologetics
2. Publicize local apologetics events
3. Teach classes in churches and in the community
4. Find and share valuable resources for individuals and organizations
5. Encourage new membership and mentees interested in apologetics ministries
6. Meet for education, fellowship, and encouragement
7. Promote our message through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter
8. Encourage local churches to develop apologetics for their members

If you would like to be a part of this group or take advantage of our services, please Contact Us.

Thank You!