America’s renewed interest in spiritual things prompts media responses like this week’s PBS special, “God in America,” a six-hour series exploring how religion has shaped our nation. The show’s goal is assumed to be that of education, to present a historical timeline of our 400 year history highlighting milestones impacted by religious belief. Yet all attempts to educate also serve to shape the student’s thinking. As such, even educational shows must be watched with both eyes open to the influences of our confused culture.
In part two of the series, one of the key issues of Christianity was raised, that of the authority of Scripture. Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion at Boston University, summarized it well when he said, “Anybody in America who cares about the Bible, which is to say virtually everyone, is interested in this question: Is it necessary for Christians to believe that every sentence, every word in the Bible is true, or can we just believe that the Bible is divinely inspired?”
In the last 100 years more than any other time, this question has divided those who identify themselves as Christ-followers in this country. Consequently, we now have the evangelical, conservative camp, and the liberal, modern camp. The former, often called the “Religious Right,” holds to the inerrancy of Scripture; while the latter left-leaning group clings to the word “inspired” and claims the Bible is merely “motivated by” God rather than actually “God-breathed” as the original Greek text suggests. (2Timothy 3:16) This then begs the question: From which camp did PBS write and produce “God in America”?
As neutral as PBS may have intended to remain in this production, they appear left-leaning due to their choice of footage from interviews with chosen religious scholars. PBS included comments by their selected “experts” that spoke against the truth of Scripture, while they gave little to no attention to the wealth of evidence for the authenticity and reliability of Scripture. As such, Bible-believing Christians were presented, ever-so-subtly, as uneducated, unsophisticated, stubborn fools.
Carefully weaved into the contemporary academic narrative of “God in America – part two” were lines such as these:
“There are errors in the Scriptures…”
“Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible.”
“Now we don’t have to leave reason at the door when we go to worship.”
“This is old-fashioned ancient religion that is not suitable for the modern world.”
“The whole world has now seen not just the ignorance of, but the stupidity of the so-called fundamentalists, represented by William Jennings Bryan. How could any intelligent person believe in this kind of stuff?”
Contrary to popular belief, many Bible-believing Christians today hold advanced degrees in not only religion, but science, government, philosophy, math, engineering, education and countless others. Yet there are many who sit on the fence wondering who to listen to, and what to believe. Such people may be interested to read from the scores of scholarly short works available online by reputable Christian organizations such as Probe Ministries, Josh McDowell Ministries, and Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, just to name a few.
A large portion of Christ-followers in America today believe the Bible is just another book, that it is merely a cafeteria of ancient ideas about morality from which they can pick and choose; yet nothing could be further from the truth.
“And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2Peter 1:19-21, ESV)