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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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8/18/2004

The Baptist's Cave 

This story has been getting a lot of attention lately. Maybe with good reason. After all, finding the cave that tradition says John the Baptist lived in could lead to verifying historically that the Baptist was an actual person, and validate the Biblical record, right?

Well, yeah. Shimon Gibson has said as much, in his press release. Of course, that press release was four years ago. He found some "cave paintings" of John the Baptist, but those were dated to the Byzantine era. There's pottery there, too -- but that has dated as early as 200 BC. WAY too early for John the Baptist.

Take a look at this story in Christianity Today. Gibson has made some remarkable discoveries -- enough to make cynical people suspect him.

Am I that cynical? Maybe. Don't get me wrong -- I love archaeology. In fact, I almost chose Midwestern over Southern because they have a Masters in Biblical Archaeology. I want to get involved in digs in the Holy Land. I believe that there are some remarkable things out there, waiting to be found. I think that there is a LOT for us to learn, buried under the sand and soil in Israel, Turkey, Greece, and other places.

But I also know that it doesn't matter if we prove that the Bible is accurate. Those who believe it will believe anyway, and those who don't believe will find a reason to not believe. I can't approach finds like this as a Christian who desperately wants them to be real -- I have to approach them as an historian who wants to make 100% sure that they are real before I base anything on them, even though 100% sure is not really possible. Maybe I am cynical, but I prefer to think of it as a hopeful cynicism -- a cynicism that wants to believe, but that has been suckered before, and is cautious about it happening again.


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