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The Bible Is Beyond Human Reasoning

Written by Mark Vroegop on

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, 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
(2 Pet. 1:16-21).

Taken from the sermon “Reasons We Don’t Believe: The Bible Isn’t Trustworthy” by Mark Vroegop.

One common barrier for a person believing in Jesus is the question “How can I know the Bible is trustworthy?” When Peter wrote 2 Peter, he anticipated it would be his last letter and he wanted to provide some assurance to the church about the trustworthiness of the Word of God. Here is what he said:

Since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things (2 Pet. 1:14-15).

What follows in 2 Peter 1:16-21 is where he points us so that we can know why we can trust the Bible.

The first characteristic is the Bible’s superiority to human thought and reason. The idea that the Bible is beyond human reasoning does not mean that the Bible is unreasonable or intellectually indefensible. Rather, it means that the Bible does not derive its authority based upon the constructs of human reasoning or thought.

We see this in 2 Peter 1:16, as Peter writes, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” When you hear the word “myth,” I’m sure that your mind immediately goes to stories that people tell that aren’t true. My mind runs to Greek mythology or to stories about Big Foot. Or maybe you think about it in terms of the Marvel movies. You hear “myths,” and you think in terms of stories that are false. I think a better way to contextualize these myths would be to think of them as urban legends. These are cultural stories that are told often enough or have some element of truth to them so that they feel true.

In Peter’s day, historic myths helped the Roman and Greek cultures explain the world in which they lived. Otherworldly stories connected gods like Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Aphrodite, and Dionysus and served as a lens to interpret the world. Peter is saying that the message about Jesus’s power and his coming are not just another creative way to make sense of the world.

This is important because in our day, and in our Western context, we don’t feel the power of cleverly devised myths. They seem foolish or childish. But that’s because our culture isn’t dominated by myths like the culture in Peter’s day.

What kind of thoughts dominate our culture as it relates to truth-claims? What are the beliefs underneath our understanding of truth? How do you know something is true?

There are a number of things we could say here, but I think it would be safe to say that our culture believes things to be true if they can be scientifically proven, if they make reasonable sense, or if a majority of people believe it to be true. In our post-enlightenment and post-modern culture, this way of thinking is just part of the air we breathe.

Our culture says that the Bible has to be proven that it fits with science. It has to be validated based upon it making sense with human reason. And it needs to fit within the broader narrative of human culture. This challenge has become more intense in the last thirty years. With the dawn of the information age and with greater access to every conceivable worldview, our knowledge of what other people believe has grown exponentially. Advances in science and technology have only served to increase our confidence in our own knowledge. And with all of this has come a greater confidence in human reasoning.

But you need to know that underneath the scientific method and our human reasoning are beliefs. When a person concludes that something is true because it was proven scientifically and that nothing can be true unless it is proven scientifically, you need to know that there is a belief underneath. A scientist must always assume there is a natural cause because natural causes are the only kind of cause its methodology can address[1] But there is a philosophical belief underneath that method. How can you naturally prove something supernatural? You can’t.

So, to believe that something must be proven or be entirely rational is itself a belief. I’m not suggesting that science and human reason have no place in the discussion. I’m not advocating an intellectually myopic or irrational Christianity. I’m merely suggesting that we need to consider what lies underneath our belief system and the belief system of others. And we need to recognize the limitations of human rationalism and scientific proofs.

There are some who think that the key to the defense of the Bible is to prove that it is scientifically accurate, historically reliable, or rationally acceptable. And while those efforts may be helpful at some level, they fail to realize that the problem with humanity is not our intellectual ignorance, but a will that does not will to do God’s will.[2] Our problem is not just thinking the wrong thoughts but that we are incapable of seeing what is true.

Here is how Paul diagnosed the human condition. He tells us that our human minds are blinded to the truth.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
(2 Cor. 4:4).

In Romans, he says that we suppressed the truth in our unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18); we become futile in our thinking (Rom. 1:21); while claiming to be wise, we are actually fools (Rom. 1:22); and no one understands or seeks after God (Rom. 3:10-11).

When Jesus affirms Peter’s testimony (“You are the Christ, the son of the living God” Matt. 16:16), he tells Peter how it happened:

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 16:17).

That is why Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, said:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom…and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away (1 Cor. 2:1, 4, 6).

It is a miracle any time anyone believes the Bible. And while there is nothing wrong with talking about archeological evidence, manuscript reliability, or the rationality of the Bible, we have to realize that something else will still be needed. You can work hard to defend the Bible, but at the end of the day, human reason and scientific proofs cannot open blind eyes. The Bible is beyond human reasoning.

Listen to the full sermon “Reasons We Don’t Believe: The Bible Isn’t Trustworthy.

[1] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, (New York: Riverhead Books, 2008), 89.

[2] John Piper, A Peculiar Glory – How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness, (Wheaton, Crossway, 2016), 243.

Mark Vroegop

Mark was called as the Lead Pastor of College Park in 2008. In this integral role, he is the primary teaching pastor for the North Indy congregation, and he works alongside the pastors and elders to implement our mission of igniting a passion to follow Jesus. He is a graduate of Cedarville University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (M. Div.). Mark approaches ministry with a unique blend of passion for Jesus, a love for the Word, and a desire to see lives changed. He is a conference speaker, Council Member of The Gospel Coalition, contributor to 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, and author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament and Weep With Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation. Prior to serving at College Park, Mark served at a church in western Michigan for 13 years. He married his wife, Sarah, in 1993, and they have four children, as well as a daughter in heaven due to an unexpected still-birth in 2004.
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