I was having a conversation with my older son, Rob, the other day and the death of my best friend, Melanie, came up. She had passed away when my younger son was 4 or 5 weeks old. Rob began to tell me about the day I received the phone call informing me of her death. He said that he started questioning God that day, because he knew she wasn’t a Christian and he couldn’t wrap his head around someone as good and kind as Melanie going to Hell. I was surprised to hear him retell the details of that day—not because of his questioning god, because that would have been understandable, but because he wasn’t there when I got the phone call. He wasn’t living with us when she died. If fact, he didn’t come back to visit until my younger son was almost a year old. It wasn’t that he was lying. I could tell he truly believed what he was saying. It could be that he remembered me calling and telling him about her dying or hearing me talk about that day later, but he was not there when it happened and yet he told the story, with great detail, as if he had been. If I was not positive of the timeline, I would have believed him, without a doubt.
This got me thinking about how unreliable our memories are, which reminded me of when I began to doubt the infallibility of scripture. When I first started to research the Bible and its roots, I was surprised to learn just how much of the Holy Scriptures came from the oral retelling of the facts and none of it was written down as it was happening, or even soon after. So, the Bible is based on stories that were passed down from generation to generation. Ever heard of the game telephone? I was also surprised to find out how long after Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection the gospels were written. There is even debate as to who the true authors of the gospels were–that they could have been written after the disciples were long gone.
That’s just the gospels. What about the foundation of Christianity, the Old Testament? I remember a discussion I had with my sister. I asked her if she knew who wrote the book of Genesis. I wasn’t sure; she didn’t know either. Some say it was Moses, but that wasn’t my point. I pointed out to her that whom ever wrote it, was not there at creation—couldn’t have been. So, I asked her, how could Moses have known what happened? She confidently told me, “God told him.” Hmm…that’s exactly what Joseph Smith and Mohammed say about their revelations. The truth is that the stories of creation, Noah’s Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc., were stories passed down through families orally. So, long story, short; if my son creates a false memory from a situation that took place just seventeen years ago, How can anyone believe that the Bible, most of which was written well over 2,000 years ago, is infallible, or reliable at all? Why don’t Christians think about that? Why do they continue to live their lives in obedience to this book and most importantly how can they condemn to Hell, anyone who can’t? Maybe I should stop thinking so much…someone actually said that to me once :).