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D.C. Collier: Why the Bible Matters (A Lot) — Part I

[Noozhawk’s note: First in a series.]

The Bible has been the best-selling book of all time for as long as records have been kept. No other book even comes close, including the Quran.

According to the Guinness World Records:

Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book. A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion.

By the end of 1995, combined global sales of Today’s English Version (Good News Translation) New Testament and Bible (copyright for which is held by the Bible Societies) exceeded 17.75 million copies, and the whole Bible had been translated into 349 languages; 2,123 languages have at least one book of the Bible in that language.

For comparison purposes, Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-Tung sold 820 million copies, Harry Potter sold 400 million copies, and A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, sold 200 million copies.

But even with its astonishing continued popularity, proven scholarship, abundant manuscript evidence and transformative power in the daily lives of people the world over, the Bible is not without its critics.

In “modern” times, the Bible is often ridiculed as a mishmash of ancient writings thrown together by a succession of ignorant religious fanatics.

Sadly, most detractors of this treasure trove of wisdom and history have neither read the Bible nor considered its profound effect on human history. The Bible has functioned as the very foundation of the Judeo-Christian worldview for thousands of years. Nations are built upon its principles.

In the roughly 2,000 years since Christianity came into existence, its effect on the cultures around it has been profoundly positive and transformative. R.R. Palmer, distinguished American historian at Princeton and Yale universities, stated:

“It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the coming of Christianity. It brought with it, for one thing, an altogether new sense of human life. For the Greeks had shown man his mind; but the Christians showed him his soul. They taught that in the sight of God, all souls were equal, that every human life was sacrosanct and inviolate.

“Where the Greeks had identified the beautiful and the good, had thought ugliness to be bad, had shrunk from disease and imperfection and from everything misshapen, horrible and repulsive, the Christian sought out the diseased, the crippled, the mutilated, to give them help.

“Love, for the ancient Greek, was never quite distinguished from Venus. For the Christians held that God was love, it took on deep overtones of sacrifice and compassion.”

Palmer added:

“The history of Christianity is inseparable from the history of Western culture and of Western society. For almost a score of centuries Christian beliefs, principles and ideals have colored the thoughts and feelings of Western man.

“The traditions and practices have left an indelible impress not only on developments of purely religious interest, but on virtually the total endeavor of man. This has been manifest in art and literature, science and law, politics and economics, and, as well, in love and war.

“Indeed, the indirect and unconscious influence Christianity has often exercised in avowedly secular matters — social, intellectual and institutional — affords striking proof of the dynamic forces that have been generated by the faith over the millenniums. Even those who have contested its claims and rejected its tenets have been affected by what they opposed.

“Whatever our beliefs, all of us today are inevitable heirs to this abundant legacy; and it is impossible to understand the cultural heritage that sustains and conditions our lives without considering the contributions of Christianity.”​1

Your Personal Invitation into the Mind of God

Regrettably, in Western cultures the Bible has largely been relegated to dusty shelves alongside Stephen Hawking’s book, A brief History of Time, as two of the most widely unread books of all time.

Yet, right under our noses, the most remarkable communication in human history calls out from the realm of the supernatural and beckons us upward into the very mind of God.

At first, the Bible appears to be a jumble of ancient writings, speaking of long-forgotten people, during times that hardly seem relevant to our lives today. Yet strangely, perhaps miraculously, those few who take the time to study its pages are rewarded with a glimpse behind the scenes into the eternal workings of an invisible kingdom.

And at its heart, this kingdom is centered not upon some force or omnipotent thing but upon a person. A person with whom we share many divinely implanted characteristics that make it possible for us to know him, communicate with him and to love him.

And, best of all, he has been speaking to us from the very beginning of time. We just need to be willing to stop long enough to listen.

Stay tuned for Part II of this series ...

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. Palmer, R.R., Joel Colton, and Lloyd S. Kramer. A History of the Modern World: To 1815. New York: A.A. Knopf, 2002. Print.

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