Is the Bible racist? Sexist? How do we know the Bible contains the right books? In this episode, Sean interviews adjunct Talbot professor Jonathan Morrow about his book Questioning the Bible. Sean and Jonathan aim to offer answers to the toughest questions people are asking today about the Bible.

More About Our Guest

Jonathan Morrow

Jonathan Morrow is the Director of Creative Strategies for Impact 360 Institute where he teaches in the college “Gap Year” program and high school summer Immersion experience. He is the author of Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority, Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey,Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture, and coauthor of Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists.

Episode Transcript

Sean McDowell: Welcome to the podcast Think Biblically: Conversations on Faith & Culture. I'm your host Sean McDowell, Professor of Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.

Sean McDowell: Today we're here with a guest familiar to our audience, Dr. Jonathan Morrow. In fact, you are the first returning guest we've had on the show. Last time you came on you talked about Generation Z. And today we're gonna talk about your book, Questioning the Bible, which I think hits right at the heart at the core of our faith. And I know a lot of our listeners have been caught flat-footed with tough questions about how do we know the Bible's true morally? Historical questions, scientific questions.

Sean McDowell: So Dr. Morrow, to remind our audience, you're an adjunct professor at Talbot School of Theology, and you also work with Impact 360, just a profound and very important ministry for young people. So thanks for coming back on the show.

Jonathan Morrow: Hey, I'm honored to be here with you, and excited to be the first, you know, second time guest here. This is awesome.

Sean McDowell: Well, let's jump right in. And before we get to some of the questions about the Bible, share with us a little bit of your story coming to Christ, and a little bit of the crisis you had in terms of questions about the Scripture.

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah, absolutely. So I didn't really grow up in a Christian home. I was kind of Baptized in the Catholic Church and I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church, but hadn't really heard the Gospel until really an acquaintance of mine who was praying for me. I was on his top five most wanted list. I was a junior in high school. It was homecoming weekend and I didn't have a date, which was typical, and his date was grounded. And so I think ... So we were having wings there in Knoxville, Tennessee, and, you know, asked me if I was a Christian and basically shared the Gospel with me. First time I ever remember hearing it. I was like, "You know what? I've been searching for all these things, came from a broken home background, lots of different things." But the gospel made sense in that moment.

Jonathan Morrow: And so I just ... He asked if I wanted to pray in the restaurant and I said, "No, that's strange." So I prayed later that night. And then immediately people began to mentor me and really heal some significant wounds just from my life growing up. But also finding purpose and know that God loved me and created me for that relationship is just amazing.

Jonathan Morrow: But then I went off to college. So it's like ... That was my junior year, and then I began to start thinking through-

Sean McDowell: Where did you go to school?

Jonathan Morrow: I went to Middle Tennessee State University, so large state school, about 30,000 students and just outside of Nashville. And had a really good experience, but I also thought, "Hey, you know what? I'm going to take a Bible as late class. You know, what can possibly go wrong? I get college credit and I get to study the Bible." But in the midst of this, it was interesting, my professor ... She wasn't outright militant, just raised lots of questions that I had no idea about. You know, has the Bible been copied and corrupted over the years? Or there's all these lost Gospels, or it's kind of sexist, or outdated. Or you know, all these different questions which I had no category for.

Jonathan Morrow: And so it's one of those things that's like, "Well, surely there's gotta be answers to this stuff." And over the years, what I did as I began investigate those questions and then kind of further questions and eventually the fruit of that kind of search over the years of interacting with my own questions and doubts, but also other people is what Questioning the Bible became.

Sean McDowell: So did you really question your faith in the sense of, "What if I'm wrong?" Or in the back of your mind, did you kind of know there is an answer if I just find it?

Jonathan Morrow: I'd probably lean towards that latter part, where it's like, "I think there's an answer, I just have to find it." Because I'd already had some of those conversations around, you know, the truth exists. And that's not relative, and some other things. So I was hopeful, but I had no idea. I had never heard these things growing up. I didn't know why you could trust the Bible or anything like that. So that was part of my journey and figuring out, "Hey, can we really trust this?" And that's kind of what I went through in the college years. And it was amazing what I found. It's like, "Hey, this actually is true. You can actually trust this. This really is the Word of God.

Sean McDowell: This is why Apologetic training is so important for young people, is they're gonna hear challenges they haven't heard before when they get to college and beyond. Sometimes earlier today because of the internet. But if they have at least a little Apologetic training and they're told that you're supposed to use your mind and Christianity's not an anti-intellectual, then when these questions come up, there's at least a sense of, "I know there's an answer if I'm willing to find it." And that's actually one of the first questions you deal with in the book, is the Bible anti-intellectual?

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah. You know, one of the first things when you start interacting with people, they use the word faith. And they're like, "Well, faith is kind of this blind leap. And therefore the Bible and Christianity's kind of fairytales for grownups." And one of the things that I wanted to kind of explore in that chapter was no, actually the Bible actually teaches that faith is active trust in what you have good reason to believe is true.

Jonathan Morrow: When you look at Moses, for example, in Exodus. He's ... When he shows up, he actually shows the people of Israel how they'll know that Yahweh is the One True God over from Exodus 4 to 14. Or when you get to John the Baptist and he's talking ... And he's sitting in a prison and he's wondering if Jesus really is the Messiah, the one whom he baptized, right? And yet Jesus gives him ... You know, go tell John what you've seen and heard. He gives him evidence, and the kind of evidence that John the Baptist would have found persuasive. And Peter, commanding us to be ready to defend our faith and give a reason. And so on and so forth.

Jonathan Morrow: So we're called to love God with all of our minds, and we need to kind of get rid of that kind of stereotype that Christians don't think hard or are not willing to think hard, or there's no good intellectual reasons why we believe what we believe. And so that's kind of the first thing is you don't have to check your mind at the door or be irrational to read Scripture. In fact, it requires a lot of you engaging your mind, which is really an important thing.

Sean McDowell: I can kind of guess the answer to this, but I want to hear you state it. Tell me why you wrote the book, Questioning the Bible, in the first place? Was it for you to deep known understanding? Was it for students? For the church?

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah. My passion really is helping the next generation of students understand what they believe, why they believe it, and how to live it out and how to connect the dots. And at the end of that kind of series of questions is gonna be a question of authority. Eventually you're gonna come to the " Who says so?" And if the Bible is God's Word, then there are authoritative answers to life's biggest questions. And so I wanted to help students see that they could trust that God really has spoken. It's not outdated to think that and so I wanted to put a resource that tries to synthesize kind of the best of scholarship that we've found in our generation and try to translate that for people to kind of go, "Okay, I can sink my teeth into this and actually interact with this at a real level." And that's why I wrote it.

Sean McDowell: I love to hear you say that it's a question of authority. I'm becoming more and more convinced that that's the heart of one of the most important issues with our students. Especially on issues of sexuality. When our culture says it's your feelings and it's internal, the Christian world views, "No. There's authority in the character of God outside of us and freedom comes from conforming our lives to Him." So you're right, it comes down to who or what do we consider authoritative. I couldn't agree more with that.

Jonathan Morrow: Absolutely.

Sean McDowell: Let me throw a second one out there. And here's what you write. You said, "How do we know what the earliest Christians believed? There's a lot of confusion and debate. Maybe the Resurrection was added on later. Maybe they didn't believe in the Deed of Christ or the Trinity until centuries later." How do we know what the Christians believed?

Jonathan Morrow: This is a really important question. Whenever I teach students on this, I'm like, "Okay. Whether or not you grew up in the church or not, I want you to kind of take off your church hat for a second and just put on your historian or your sociology of history kind of hat and say, 'Why is there a thing called Christianity?' And, how would we know what the earliest Christians believed?" And one of the really cool things ... And different scholars have talked about this, [inaudible 00:07:29] is one of them on this. So there's these early creedal statements which show up ... They're kind of the Bible before there was a Bible. And there's these Memory Verses. It was a largely illiterate world, only about 10 percent-ish, depending on the study, of the ancient world during the 1st Century would have been literate.

Jonathan Morrow: So they were communicating their theology through kind of these Memory Verses, if you will, before there was a Bible. And the most famous is 1 Corinthians 15, which talks about that the core, there really never was a time when the earliest Christians didn't proclaim a Bodily Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And that goes all the way back to the beginning. And even skeptical scholars like Bart Ehrman will admit that. Within a year or two after the public execution of Jesus of Nazareth, you see that going on.

Jonathan Morrow: So whatever you say about Christianity, if you're going to be intellectually honest and look at the history of it is there never was a time when that earliest Christians ... Who were predominantly Jewish ... Came to believe that Jesus was the Risen Son of God from the beginning. Like, those beliefs are parallel from the beginning. So I think that in and of itself helps us kind of get away from some of those arguments that this was evolutionary belief or they just kind of invented this stuff later. And I think historically speaking, we're on very solid ground there.

Sean McDowell: I did my dissertation on The Fate of the Apostles. Did they really die for their beliefs? So one of the things I had to establish was did they really believe that Jesus was Risen? And when I went back and read these creeds, the early church, and the Gospels, it blew me away how there is no early Christian belief apart from the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. That's what it meant to be a follower of Christ. Read the speeches in Acts, and it's just filled with Jesus, The Son of God, who died and rose again. So like you said, there is no real debate that the earliest Christian beliefs have Jesus God who died and rose from the grave. So that's-

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah. And you contrast that with the way sometimes the Gospel gets talked about today is more of a therapeutic and how it will fix your life. Whereas the early Christians really know this guy really rose from the dead. Not that it won't have impact on our lives, but I think recovering some of the centrality of that is really important.

Sean McDowell: What about The Lost Gospels? I've read The Da Vinci Code, Jonathan. I was told there were 88 Gospels. Now I know that's fiction, and we can joke about that. But there were holes all over that. But that's a serious question that I hear somewhat frequently when I speak on this. How would you address that?

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah. So back in about 1945 there was a discovery in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. And so they discovered different codices which included different Lost Gospels and different manuscripts. And some of those, probably the most famous one, was like Gospel of Thomas. There was one, Gospel of Truth. You know, there's different ones. There's even a Gospel of Judas. Who knew Judas had a Gospel, right? In that one he turns out to be the hero who kind of helps Jesus be set free through the crucifixion. Things like that.

Jonathan Morrow: So all I have to say is there's these competing claims. And so the question is, has the church been covering these things up for 2,000 years? Or did they reject them for very good reasons? And when you go back to it, one of the first things you need to recognize is that the earliest Christians were predominantly Jewish. What does that mean? That means they were monotheistic. They believed in one God. And they believed that Creation was good.

Jonathan Morrow: So from the beginning, along with that belief in the Resurrection, is they had that core theology. Which meant that anytime Gnosticism shows up at about one ... You know, into the 2nd Century and into the 3rd Century where it says Creation is actually a bad thing and it was this Demiurge that created stuff. And that's really what's going on and the physical's bad and the spirit's good. That'd be like oil and water. It would have not taken hold because earliest Christianity believed in one God. They believed in, you know, that the body was good and Creation was good.

Jonathan Morrow: So core beliefs like that, among other things, as well as transferring these beliefs ... Like there's this early hymn, Philippians 5 through 11, this amazing hymn where at the end of that Paul describes that the name of Jesus every tongue will confess and every knee will bow. What's amazing is ... And that was written in the early 60's. And even, you know, Bart Ehrman and others will bring you that. But he's quoting Isaiah 45:23, which says, "At the name of Yahweh every tongue will confess and every knee will bow." So they're singing hymns. They're singing their theology to Christ as if a God very early on.

Jonathan Morrow: So these core beliefs started early. And when you compare them to these early Gnostic or lost Gospels, it's like taking oil and water and mixing them up and like for a second, they might look like, "Oh, they're just the same thing." But you just give a little time, and over the 2nd and 3rd Centuries it was very clear that those began to emerge that those were not what the earliest Christians believed. Therefore not authoritative, they were not cited as such. The early church fathers didn't cite them with the same authority. Even in the artifacts we have discovered, you never see the Gospel of Thomas joined to the Gospel of Matthew. Even in the physical manuscripts that we have discovered and things like that.

Jonathan Morrow: So there's lots of good reasons that just because these existed and there was diversity, it doesn't mean that no one knew what Christianity was. It was that there were conversations about these things and they were known, they were just rejected because they weren't written by the Apostles. They weren't written in the 1st Century. Or they were clearly forgeries or other reasons like that.

Sean McDowell: So it sounds like there's theological issues, different things that are taught in Thomas and Judas and Gospel of Mary. And also chronologically, all these Gospels are minimally written in the early-to-mind 2nd Century. All four Gospels even on critical dating are the mid-to-the-end of the 1st Century.

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah, absolutely.

Sean McDowell: What about the claim that the Bible is sexist? You hear that a lot. Today it's anti-women.

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah. You know, what's interesting about this is in some ways the church is kind of the victim of her own success in this. Because when the 1st Century came around and when Jesus introduced things like this, you know, you will know us by our love for one another. And then Paul begins to contextualize that in Ephesians, where it says okay, husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church. We hear that and we go, "Of course." In the 1st Century, in the Greco-Roman world, that was revolutionary. And what you see is that completely turned things upside down in that world because Jesus is very good news for women. In fact, Paul co-labored with lots of women that helped, you know, with house churches and everything else we see with the Book of Acts. We see women who are flocking, really in many ways, to the early church because they were dignified. They were ... All of those things were core beliefs that we're now in the 21st Century, that's an assumption. But that doesn't come from anywhere else in the history of these ideas. That comes from the Judeo-Christian worldview.

Jonathan Morrow: Now, have there been abuses? Absolutely. There has been. Are there confusing passages in your Old Testament? Yeah. And one of the ways that you kind of think about this ... Whether it's the sexist issue or the genocide issue or whatever objection is raised ... There's only about four chapters in your Bible that describe things the way they're supposed to be. Genesis 1 and 2, Revelation 21 through 22. Everything else in the middle is a mess. It's not the way things are supposed to be.

Jonathan Morrow: So it's God working redemptively through people who would be just like everybody else. Israel would have been just like everybody else if God had not intervened through them. And began working through them and gave them laws and things that actually started to put in place some minimal protections of women, for example. If they were supposed to marry and these certain reasons.

Jonathan Morrow: So again, that's not God's ideal. God's ideal is Genesis 1 and 2. Made in the image of God. Male and female, He created them. But we see that story unfolding where God is working redemptively through people. So the Bible is not sexist. We need to read it in a way that's contextually ... That understands context. But in fact, the Bible gives us some remarkably revolutionary ideas that we now think are normal, but those come directly from Jesus. Dignify women. The early church dignifying women.

Sean McDowell: One of the questions I like to ask people is I say, "Look. Of all the religious founders in history, who would you trust your daughter with for a day?" And just go down the religious figures. I don't even have to mention them. You come to Jesus, He had every opportunity to take advantage of women, and showed nothing but dignity and compassion and care and respect. And He is the culmination of the Christian worldview. So great answer.

Sean McDowell: What about ... This one is clearly hard not ... I know you can't fully unpack this. We could do multiple shows on this. But I hear this somewhat frequently in conversations with atheists and skeptics. What about the Bible being genocidal?

Jonathan Morrow: Yep. So here's ... So this is a charge that's brought up. And the challenge of this, and the honest challenge is it can be brought up in like a 30 second slogan, but it takes time to respond to it. Because it involves context. So a couple of things I would say ... At the slogan level, if I was just gonna respond to the 30 second level, it would simply be the Bible isn't about ... Or the conquest narratives, particularly with Joshua and those other passages, is not about genocide, it's about judgment. That's kind of the simplest way to put it. Because God was judging them. He had given them 400 years and this is 15 for being very wicked. They practiced ... The Canaanites practiced, you know, bestiality, they practiced child sacrifice. It was a very fallen culture.

Jonathan Morrow: And here's how I know it wasn't genocidal. Because God judged Israel as severely or more severely for their wickedness later on as well. Through the Assyrians, and God judged them in 722 B.C. He judged them with the Babylonians in 605 to 586 B.C. So again, God judged them for sin because sometimes we don't take sin as seriously as God does. That's part of the problem. Second, the ancient Middle Eastern world was not diplomacy over high tea. It was a very warfare, kill or be killed type world, and that was where Israel was at. You also have The Promise of the Messiah that was supposed to come through Israel that God was going to protect as well Satan would probably try to defeat as well as that unfolding. Because God promised that Abraham and his descendants to be a blessing to all the nations. Well, that doesn't happen if you don't have a Messiah or distinct people of Israel that kind of is erased by mixing in with the Canaanites and everything else.

Jonathan Morrow: So is it a hard thing? Yes. Are there lots of questions around it? Scholars kind of debate, "Okay, well, what's going on and the particulars, where they fortified cities, where only the men would have been left and the rest would have had time to flee. Or were women and children killed as well? " And there's some challenging, you know, details around that. But at the end of the day, it was about judgment, not genocide, as well as things aren't the way they're supposed to be. It was unique. It was not repeatable. It's not normalized in Scripture. It was very limited historically when you look at the context as well.

Jonathan Morrow: So those are a few of the things and I unpack some of the different things in ways we can look at that. But part of it is just at the very root of it is the world is not the way it's supposed to be. And war was not God's ideal in that situation in the beginning. But, again, God's working out this redemptive plan through free human people. And in that case, Israel is a theocracy. God was their King. And so they would have been acting morally under his authority. And while it's not as emotionally satisfying as we might like, it's does God have the authority to do with his Creation what He will if He's the Author and Creator of it? Can he take life? Absolutely. Whereas you and I don't have that right, because we're not the Author and Creator of life.

Jonathan Morrow: So there are some rational things. Is it emotionally hard? Sure. But we have to take the time to read through it contextually and kind of see what's going on there to really best understand it.

Sean McDowell: I think that's really helpful. To me, that's one of the hardest questions to address, 'cause it's so emotion-filled. It requires theological, cultural, moral issues at play. And sometimes you don't have the patience to really unpack that.

Sean McDowell: I was in a debate with an atheist one time and he raised a problem with evil. "Why does God allow evil?" The very next question was about genocide. I said, "Wait a minute." And when you're saying God doesn't act and stop evil, now you're upset that he stops and judges evil. You can't have it both ways. And he had honestly never really though about that. Again, that doesn't answer why, but sometimes helps give us a little perspective. I've also thought it's interesting that Rahab, that God gives an out to Rahab who had heard these stories to anybody that understood and feared. So that's just another example. There's so much more going on when we probe more deeply in this.

Sean McDowell: What about the claim that the Bible ... This is perhaps one of the most common ones, especially in the research you did on Gen Z. It shows that this conflict or parent conflict between science and Scripture turns a lot of young people away. So is the Bible unscientific?

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah, great question. And I think students especially love asking this question, 'cause we're growing up in a culture that loves science, which is great. Science came to fruition out of the Judeo-Christian worldview, right? The rational search, the investigation of the rational world that laws require lawgivers, things like that. So couple of thoughts. One, this is ... The first question is, if it's at least possible ... Because it's really a question of miracles and can God act in the world beyond the natural and the physical. If it's at least possible that God exists, then miracles become possible. And then we can investigate them on a case-by-case basis, like the Resurrection.

Jonathan Morrow: So we have good reason to think that beginnings require beginners. From the orders of the universe we know the universe began to exist at a finite point in the past. A design requires a designer, through DNA, through fine-tuning and things like that. And then the moral law requires moral law givers. So I think we have good independent reasons that at least make belief in God possible. Then it's a question of, "Well, I've never seen a miracle." Well, if God can speak the universe into existence, and that's consistent with the modern scientific picture that we see and it is, then miracles don't seem quite as outrageous.

Jonathan Morrow: And then usually the questions come to particular claims the Bible makes. Well, which reading of Genesis is correct? How should we best interpret these kind of thing? And so there the way I typically lay this framework out is at the top is the question of naturalism versus theism. Does God exist? Or is all that exist physics, chemistry, genetics, and biology? If naturalism is true, then Darwinian evolution is the only game in town. Like if you draw an arrow down from it. But if theism is possibly true, then intelligent design is opposite of Darwinian evolution. And that's the place to have a discussion about the evidence, cause and effect. The abilities, philosophy, they both use science.

Jonathan Morrow: And then the third question underneath intelligent design is what kind of designer? How did God create? That's the Doctrine of Creation, which is different than the question of intelligent design or Darwinian evolution. Because the Doctrine of Creation is revealed from Scripture. And then we go out in the world and we walk around. Is this what I see? Does this fit? And guess what? In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. I see a fit with that. Heavens declare the glory of God. Psalm 19. And then the question is, that God created is logically prior and more important than how God created. Especially for our culture, because they don't understand that distinction yet. They're still hung up on the "that God created" part.

Jonathan Morrow: And then you come to your best conclusions about, "Okay, well, how do we best understand the early chapters of Genesis? Were they calendar days?" Or was it ages in period of time? Or was it set up like an analogy? Like a work week or something like that. All of which people will hold to an errancy and everything else for those views, right? That's not ... And so that's kind of the way that I try to paint that for students to say, "Okay, now you're free. Explore. Think. Grow. And see what you come to think is true." But that's kind of a framework that helps you deal with a lot of those scientific challenges.

Sean McDowell: You gotta unpack it scientifically and Biblically and theologically. You know, I was talking to my students, speaking of miracles. These are the Talbot students just a few weeks ago. And we're talking about Craig Keener's study. Two volume, massive, careful study. He says there's hundreds of millions of living Christians who believe they've seen or experienced miracles. He goes, "Fine! I'll be conservative. Tens of millions." And some are documented than others. But such a range of miracles that he says, "The bottom line is, we can't with any scholarly responsibility investigate the natural world and assume that miracles don't happen."

Sean McDowell: I opened this up to my students and I had students in class sharing powerful miracles. And I found this in groups. I'd invite our listeners. If you ever speak or are in a group, just ask people, "How many of you have seen or witnessed a miracle?" And I don't mean getting a parking spot at the right time at Christmas. And it's amazing how many Christians aren't trying to get fame or draw attention to themselves that say, "I have seen stuff that can only be explained by a miracle." Which helps answer this question about the Bible and science.

Sean McDowell: Let me ask you one more question ... Maybe two ... But at least one more that's kind of the elephant in the room today. Is the Bible homophobic? Is the Bible hateful towards with people with same-sex attraction? How would you address that?

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah. It was actually interesting. Here's one of the things that I do when I work with Impact 360 and I'll ask students their questions. And they'll get to write them on the wall. We have writable walls which is so fun. They'll write all their questions on the wall. And one of them was, "Why does God care about sexuality?" One of the students wrote on the wall. And so in the Q & A time I said, "The reason why God cares about sexuality is because He cares about you. And if God created you and loves you and has a plan that you flourish best within, then God is loving by speaking on that."

Jonathan Morrow: And so we see God's ideal, and then we see the departure from that. See, we live in a fallen, broken world where all of us are broken. We just express our brokenness in different ways. And one of the ways that happens sexually is through either same-sex relationships or same-sex attraction or whether it's pornography or adultery or pre-marital sex, there's all sorts of different ways to deviate from God's good design. So God's Word is not homophobic, God loves all people. They're made in His image. But all are called to repent. And all are welcome. All are called to ... You know, the Gospel's good news for everybody and all are called to repent. Christians and everybody else.

Jonathan Morrow: So it's like, you see when you read these passages in context and we see the vision in God's heart. When He says flee sexuality immorality, it's because He sees things that we don't see. It's like when you see a little ... You know, it's like your little child and they're about to run out in the road to chase the ball, all they can see is the ball. But God's just like the parents like, "No, but I see the traffic." And when God tells us to flee these things that aren't best for us, He sees things we don't see. And that's the full context of what's going on in the vision of how Scripture deals with those prohibitions. Because God wants us to say yes to what is best for us. Those things we don't flourish in light of that.

Jonathan Morrow: So that's kind of the big overarching way I typically answer that. And then we get into particulars about, you know, would Jesus, the most loving person who ever lived, support homosexual behavior? And we can look at, say, Matthew 19 and passages that show his heart for reaffirming God's Creational good norm of a man and a woman for a lifetime in marriage. So that's God's ideal.

Jonathan Morrow: And so I think those are a couple of things we can say. I go into more detail in the book. But those are a couple of things to kind of frame that conversation.

Sean McDowell: I appreciate that you frame it with both grace and relationship and care for people. And how all of our desires that are not aligning with God's design for us stem from some kind of brokenness that we have. And that's true for all of us.

Sean McDowell: What do you do when you come across a tough question you don't immediately have the answer to? Like emotionally and practically? How do you deal with that?

Jonathan Morrow: Yeah. Emotionally is like, "Oh. Okay." Well, depending upon the environment, like if you're on stage, I mean, it's like, "Well, they're expecting the answer here." So I try to frame it. But if it's more of just I'm in research or reading, I'll kind of go, "Okay." Well, I'll kind of have a quick chat with myself and go, "Okay, when I've explored tough questions before, there were reasonable alternatives out there. I've not encountered this objection before, this way of thinking about it, or whatever it might be. And so let me do some thinking about that." You want me to get clear about what the claim is and let me evaluate to see if it's a good claim or not, what the evidence says.

Jonathan Morrow: So that's kind of ... If I had more time, that's how I approach it in the moment. If I don't know, I'll say, "You know, that's a great question. I don't know. I'll think about that and I'll get back to you." If it's something like that. But if it's something in the ballpark that I have thought about, I typically try to frame those with a bigger, and then say, "Hey, you know, some of these details we can kind of explore further as we have more time." And that's kind of how I kind of navigate that.

Sean McDowell: When I was an undergrad I was going through kind a period of doubt and I went in and talked with J.P. Moreland, one of our colleagues and beloved professors who influenced both of us. And he said to me, he goes, "You know, I rarely hear new objections to the faith. I know there's an answer." And as an undergrad I was like, "Man, that must be nice to be there." Well, I do hear new objections, but not that often the more I do this. And there's just a [inaudible 00:28:02] it's if I'm willing to do the research, there's more often than not a reasonable explanation for why this happens.

Sean McDowell: I think that's what you do really well in your book, is you don't pretend to explain all the tough answers about the Bible. But you take the biggest ones ... Most or many of which we've addressed here and some others like does the Bible have contradictions? Has it been corrupted over time? Et cetera. And just in about 10 to 12, 15 pages, respond to each one in a real practical, usable way.

Sean McDowell: So I hope that our listeners will go pick up a copy of Questioning the Bible, by Dr. Jonathan Morrow. Thanks for joining us.

Jonathan Morrow: Thanks, Sean. It's been a real pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

Sean McDowell: This has been an episode of the podcast Think Biblically: Conversations on Faith and Culture. To learn more about us and today's guest Jonathan Morrow and to find more episodes, go to That's If you enjoyed today's conversation, give us a rating on your podcast app and share it with a friend. Thanks for listening and remember, think Biblically about everything.

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