History matters

Does it matter that the events recorded in the Bible are historically true? Can we have Christianity without historical accuracy? Does it make a difference if a guy named Abraham ever existed as long as we live like Jesus and love our neighbor? Well, I suppose that depends on how you define Christianity. The distinction is whether Christianity is primarily an ethic or a gospel:

“If religion be made independent of history there is no such thing as a gospel. For ‘gospel’ means ‘good news,’ tidings, information about something that has happened. A gospel independent of history is a contradiction in terms.” –J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, p. 121

“The historicity of the patriarchs can never be, to us, a matter of small importance. The religion of the Old Testament being a factual religion, it is untrue that these figures retain the same usefulness, through the lessons that can be drawn from their stories, as actual history would possess. This prejudges the answer to the fundamental question, what religion is for. If, on the Pelagian principle, it serves no other purpose than to teach religious and moral lessons from example, then the historicity is no longer of material importance. We can learn the same lessons from legendary or mythical figures. But, if according to the Bible they are real actors in the drama of redemption, the actual beginning of the people of God, the first embodiment of objective religion; if Abraham was the father of the faithful, the nucleus of the church; then the denial of their historicity makes them useless from our point of view.” –Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 67

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. …And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” -Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:14, 17)

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About Evan May

Evan May is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary and a pastor at Lakeview Christian Center in New Orleans.
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