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October 8, 2013 / BTM

Can We Trust the Bible’s Eyewitnesses?

Getting across the concept that the New Testament is composed of eyewitness accounts is, I think, a key component in making the Bible come alive for our kids.  The disciples were real people who lived and breathed and saw amazing things they wanted to share with us.

Just like other ancient figures, Jesus left no personal writings behind for us to read.  We are dependent on the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ disciples for a record of his life.  The same is true of other ancient figures.  For example, we depend on the writings of Plato, a disciple of Socrates, for an account of Socrates’ teachings.

When you pick up your Bible, or when you read it to your kids, how often do you think about the fact that the Bible is actually not a book, per se, but a collection of eyewitness documents?  In a previous blog, I talked about the gospels as eyewitness accounts and posted an activity to show why eyewitness accounts will not be identical to each other.

Are there ways to be sure that eyewitnesses did not make up stories and sell them as eyewitness accounts?  How do we know that Jesus’ disciples didn’t collaborate and make up some things about Jesus (besides the fact that they probably would not die as martyrs for a lie)?  How do we know that we can trust them?

Concept being taught: 

One of the benefits of having multiple eyewitnesses is that they can call each other to account.

Activity:

This activity could be done in conjunction with the one in my previous blog.  Have an additional person (say Dad) give their eye witness testimony of the magic show or the YouTube video that you watched together.  Plan to have that additional person say things that did not happen or take place (like, that Mom rode a horse during the show).  You could even have two collaborating eyewitnesses both say that they saw things that did not occur.

Your kids will naturally disagree with the testimony of these untruthful eyewitnesses.  They will know that they are not telling what actually happened.

This leads to the point: How do we know when an eyewitness is not telling the truth about what they saw?  (Answer: Because other eyewitnesses saw the same event and didn’t see what the untruthful eyewitnesses said had happened).

Biblical application:

This is an example of how we can make sure eyewitnesses are telling the truth or are trustworthy.  Most of what Jesus did was in front of large crowds: His miracles, His teaching, His death, even His resurrection.  If the disciples had tried to make up something about what Jesus had done, what would have happened?  (Answer: Other people would have told everyone that the disciples were lying.  Eventually people would have stopped listening to them.  People could have walked to the tomb where Jesus was buried and found out that his body was still there, concluding that the disciples had made up the resurrection.  Christianity couldn’t have gotten off the ground.)

For younger children

The concept of being an eyewitness might be confusing.  Reinforce it through simple questions around the dinner table, such as:  “What did I do today?” (At our house, we asked this on a weekday when our kids couldn’t have known the details about we did.  Answer; I don’t know; I wasn’t there; I wasn’t an eyewitness).  Or: “Who was an eye witness to your day today?”  We have also made up our own eyewitness accounts of each other’s days – obviously false because we were at work or school and were not eyewitnesses to each other’s days.  When you read the Bible, talk about how you are reading an eyewitness account by whomever the author is.

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2 Comments

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  1. Jennifer / Oct 10 2013 1:04 pm

    Great idea! The “eyewitness” factor is such an important part of being sure of the truth of the gospels and this is a great way to impress that on our children. I am going to do this soon – maybe even after school today 🙂

    • BTM / Oct 10 2013 5:13 pm

      I’d love to know how it went!

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