Body of Evidence

Posted on: March 3rd, 2011

A college student is preparing for the final exam. Even though he has taken earlier tests and turned in other assignments, this one test will decide pass or fail. It happens to be a U.S. History course and the young man knows there’s much information available on the subject. Many authors have written many books about our nation’s history, and he could go to the library or search the Internet in preparation. But with time limits, just a couple of days before the final, there’s just no way to read everything. What’s he going to do? Thankfully, the professor assigned a particular history book at the beginning, one every student in class knew he or she was responsible to. All lectures harmonized with the information of this one book, as well as did earlier tests and assignments. To pass, he decides to study his notes and the one authoritative book for the course.

Yes he has read other books on U.S. History and realizes not all information coincides, but for this test that doesn’t matter. He needs to answer the questions based on the evidence presented in the assigned book. For his grade, it makes no difference what others think about dates and events; there is a single source of right and wrong. So in deciding the one correct answer for each question he relies on the one “true” standard. Would you expect him to pass the test if he did anything different?

I’m not suggesting that recorded history is necessarily accurate, or the book chosen by the professor is the best. Perception, memory, and bias can influence details; the way one sees or remembers. It’s even possible for one to think he is truthful, but man is fallible. That’s why there may be inconsistencies among different books and authors.

These same principles apply to any factually based record, whether it’s math, science, literature, or religion. So, if I’m tested on any of these, it behooves me to reference the book prescribed by the one in charge. We’re tested spiritually by God, to see how we will live and respond to His Book. I know there’s much available information about religion, but there is only one true standard. In fact, what man says may contain errors and contradictions. (Matt. 15:1-9) So when deciding the correct answer for each question of life, I will turn to the Book authored by God. (2 Peter 1:2-4)

We are sometimes foolish and silly in the way we interpret the Bible. (James 2:20) We ignore its evidence in ways no one would if taking an academic exam. Let’s take a little test. I’m the teacher and it’s my book, so if you want to pass pay attention. There is only right answer for each question and it’s found in my book.

When people first colonized the new land, they were still under the laws of their home country. Eventually, they wanted freedom and the right to self-government. A revolt followed, a constitution written and victory won ushering in a new country. The new replaced the old – a new form of government and laws. They had won their freedom, and were no longer bound by the old laws as citizens of the new country.

Question #1: After winning independence, people in the thirteen colonizes were accountable to what laws and government?

a) The laws and government of their old country.

b) The laws and government of their new country.

c) They followed both govern- ments and sets of laws.

d) They were free to pick and choose what laws from the old country they would follow.


How did you answer the question? Given the data b is the only correct answer. The first question wasn’t too difficult; the evidence was clear and no other conclusion would make sense. So how do people miss the same point about the Old and New Testaments? The Bible clearly states the New Covenant replaced the Old. (Heb. 8:6-13) There is a change of citizenship, (Heb. 12:25-29) and the laws come from Christ and differ from those under Moses. (Rom. 8:1-4) No citizen of Christ’s kingdom has the right to justify anything from the Old Law. (Col. 2:13-14)

Now let’s talk about celebrating Thanksgiving. In a feast held in the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims at Plymouth and some native Americans got together to celebrate the harvest. Many consider this the first Thanksgiving. They ate, prayed and sang together.

Question #2: What did the participants do at the first Thanksgiving?

a) They sang together.

b) They played musical instru-ments together.

c) They sang and played musical instruments together.

d) They did all of the above.


Based on the evidence of my little book, the correct answer is a. There’s no mention of musical instruments, while my book talks about them singing. Should my students expect credit on this question if they answered with one of the other choices? They might argue, “The book doesn’t say they didn’t use instruments, and besides, we know they used instruments at other times”. I would then respond, “What does the evidence from the information say? It only says they sang together.” The truth is I believe most would get this question right based on the evidence presented. Now when it comes to Christians and worship most get it wrong. They want to use instruments because the Jews did in the Old Testament or because the New Testament doesn’t say not to. If you want to pass the test, then base your answer on what the Bible says. (1 Cor. 14:15 & James 5:13)

A short test I know, but these two questions typify a problem in religion. Evidence is the “available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” (Oxford Dictionaries – on the internet) Only what is revealed or stated forms the available body of facts or information. (1 Cor. 4:6) Silence does not add up to information, and so a belief or proposition based on what’s not said provides no evidence. (1 Cor. 2:9-13) How would you do with other test questions – about baptism, the work of the Holy Spirit or the organizational make up of the Church? I guess it depends on what book and author you turn to.

By Terry Starling