We can argue till Kingdom come (i.e. forever) about whether or not this or that Bible verse is meant to be taken literally or metaphorically (God couldn’t make himself clearer?) and whether a particular author was an eyewitness or not, but the bottom line is, ‘Is what the Bible says True?’ Nothing else matters. If it is true, then it’s claims must be accepted. It would be extremely foolish to disregard them. If not, if the Bible is one big lie, then we must consign it to the dustbin of history.
Is it true that whatever a believer prays for, God will provide? Jesus says so several times:
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer (Matthew 21:22).
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).
Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you (John 16.23).
No, its not true. We don’t see ‘whatever’ and ‘everything’ being granted even when Christians pray ‘in accordance with God’s will’ as they like to qualify these promises.
Is it true that whatever a believer gives will be returned to him until it overflows (Luke 6:38)? While this is the foundation for the prosperity gospel movement it is patently untrue. Untrue symbolically too; if you give of yourself in God’s service you will be rewarded excessively? Just ask all those burnt-out ministers.
Is it true that with sufficient faith believers can uplift mountains and throw them in the sea (Matthew 21:21)? Obviously not, not even when this hyperbolic promise is interpreted figuratively. Christians can’t resolve their problems, work miracles or bring about radical change more than anyone else, and certainly not by ‘faith’.
Is it true that God looks after those he has chosen, to the extent he knows the number of hairs on their heads (Matt 10:29-30)? Evidently not. It didn’t work this way for Jewish people in the holocaust, it doesn’t work for the 10,000 children who die everyday of hunger and it doesn’t work for Christians, who fair no better than anyone else in life’s calamities.
Is it true that Jesus was born in Bethlehem under a wandering star? No. This is a myth constructed from older stories.
Is it true Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine and raised the dead? Or is it more likely these ‘miracles’ were created for him, ‘signs’ from Jewish scripture designed to present him as the anticipated Messiah? This is the more likely explanation. A man called Iesous did not really perform supernatural feats.
Is it true Jesus rose from the dead after three days and nights? No. While Mark (10.33-34) and Matthew (12:40) claim this was going to happen, they don’t even pretend that it did. Friday evening till Sunday morning is 36 hours, not three days and nights.
Is it true his disciples and lady friends saw Jesus risen from the dead? We don’t know; the accounts of them doing so were written forty and more years after the supposed event by people who weren’t there. The only eye-witness account of a risen-Jesus sighting is Paul’s and he admits it was in his head. So probably the answer is no: it’s not true people saw a resurrected physical body.
Is it true gospel Jesus existed? With his story made up from existing myths and mystical visions, it’s highly unlikely. So no.
Is it true Jesus sends those he’s saved to heaven when they die? The Bible doesn’t say he does; it claims he would be coming from heaven himself, in the time of those who were writing about him, to initiate God’s kingdom on Earth. So, no and no again; its not true he came down from heaven, in the time of those who were writing about him, to initiate God’s kingdom on Earth.
Is it true, that by believing in something akin to magic, people can rise from the dead? No. Believing a secret formula does not enable anyone to escape death. There is no evidence anyone has resurrected after being fully, properly dead because they believed something. There is no evidence anyone has resurrected from the dead ever.
Is it true that believing in Jesus makes people into new creations? No more than many other experiences in life. Does it make for better people – more righteous, more moral, more loving? Evidence from the Bible itself suggests not, as does the appalling behaviour of some Christians today.
Is it true that the spirit of this long-dead first-century itinerant Jewish preacher lives inside people today (John 14:17)? No, it’s not. There is no evidence that dead people, or celestial super-beings from some other plane, inhabit the living. Many believers are embarrassed to acknowledge even the possibility.
Is any of it true? We could play this game all day: taking any of the New Testament’s claims and stories and asking ourselves whether they are true. The answer will be, invariably and demonstrably, no. It takes the closing down of any critical faculties to believe they are, and mental gymnastics to maintain that, even if they’re not literally true, they contain hidden, profound truth. They don’t.