Chapter 6: “Evaluating the Evidence”

This blog begins chapter six of the book in process Conversations About God. It originated as a series of lectures by Graham Maxwell in 1984. After each lecture Maxwell took written questions from the audience mediated through the pastor of the Loma Linda University Church at the time, Lou Venden. This marvelous series has never been put into book form, so I am attempting to do so and sharing the results in progress here with permission from the Maxwell family. The words that follow are Maxwell’s oral presentation, edited by me.

These conversations about God take another look at our Heavenly Father in the larger setting of the great, universe-wide controversy over His character and government. The topic for this chapter is “Evaluating the Evidence,” that is, weighing and understanding the evidence that is the basis for our decisions about God in this great controversy.

We know that all God asks of us is trust. If we would only trust in Him enough, He could readily heal the damage sin has done. That is all He asked before the war began. That’s all He asks now, even of us who have been so damaged and caught up in this war. All He will ever ask of us in the future is trust. To say it one more time: where there is mutual trust and trustworthiness, without reservations, there is perfect security, perfect freedom, perfect peace. And this is what God desires the most.

But God has been accused of being unworthy of our trust. Specifically, He has been accused of being arbitrary, exacting, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe. And if He is that kind of person, He is not safe to trust. Sadly, many of His followers also conceive of Him in this way and seek to win people to this kind of a God.

In the previous chapters of this book we’ve considered God’s unwillingness to issue mere claims or denials. Anybody could do that. But when a person has been falsely accused of being untrustworthy, it does no good to deny it or to simply claim to be trustworthy. So God has answered the charges against Him with the evidence of demonstration. Only by the demonstration of trustworthiness over a sufficiently long period of time, and under a great variety of circumstances, especially difficult ones, can trust be re-established and confirmed. The Bible is a record of just such a demonstration.

The best approach, then, is to pick up our Bibles and read the evidence, all of it. But when we pick up our Bibles, there are questions that naturally arise. We considered three of them in the previous chapter. How do we know we have the right books? How do we know we have the words accurately preserved through all the centuries? And how do we know they have been accurately translated from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek? We have shown that there is more than enough evidence for answering those questions. We can confidently say that for all practical purposes we have the books of the Bible as originally written.

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