After one of those religious riots in the 1990s in which a great number of persons were massacred, the Kano state government called together prominent persons in diverse fields to discuss the way forward. These persons entailed pastors, imams, chief judges, doctors, politicians, and many other important personnel, the governor himself was present.
The conference kick-started at about noon, the theme of the meeting was to discuss how to maintain peace in the state and each speaker had ten minutes to make his point. Speaker after speaker spoke; they all tried to be diplomatic and politically correct. The imams spoke, trying hard not to hurt the christians in attendance; pastors spoke, avoiding direct statements from the Bible and making general statements like “we can live in peace and harmony, we are all brothers. . .” Some even said “. . . we serve the same God. . .” But someone stood up and spoke differently. He was a doctor, a consultant ophthalmologist, renowned in his field. More importantly, he was a christian known to speak the truth without mincing words.
He started by saying that Jesus was the Prince of peace. And that the state could never know peace as long as she kept rejecting Jesus. He quoted Scriptures like John sixteen verses thirty-three in which Jesus was saying “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” He quoted other Scriptures to buttress his point then summarised. In the seconds that passed, there was dead silence all over the hall. Everyone watched the speaker with apprehension. One could imagine the audience standing up, ranting and hauling stones at this man. But instead, he received applaud, and some standing ovation. What a bold step! He spoke the truth and referenced his Bible and God got the glory.
Many Believers feel awkward referencing the Bible in secular meetings, when writing articles for newspapers and magazines, or in non-fiction writings, and in other “outside-the-church” settings. But why is this the case? The Bible is not just a religious book but a holistic one. It is the most successful literary creation, more influential than Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s works have been translated into 60 languages while the Bible has been translated into well over 2,000 languages. The Bible outsells every other book every year, as world’s bestseller. About 44 million copies of the Bible are sold every year.
Some have argued that the Bible was nothing but the white man’s tool to subdue and enslave Blacks through their colonisation; it is nothing but a religious book that peddles hearsays and lacks facts. But a closer look at how it came about will dismiss this argument. It was written over a period of 1600 years by more than 40 authors (led by the Holy Spirit) all from different backgrounds – kings, diplomats, fishermen, tentmakers, poor people, the list been endless, all spanning across three continents – Africa, Asia, Europe. It was written in three languages – Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and across multiple cultures. And yet, the whole Book has one theme – Jesus. This book obviously cannot be the figment of someone’s imagination.
Some have queried the reliability of the text, especially the New Testament, claiming it had been subjected to alterations. The Bible has done well in terms of preservation. It is obvious a divine hand has been behind it. Over 5,300 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin and 9,300 early other portions of the New Testament of the Bible are still in existence. These were early copies of the original book. No other document from antiquity comes close to this (in terms of sheer numbers). If you reject the reliability of the text of the New Testament just in terms of sheer numbers, then you lose all of classical antiquity.
John Warwick Montgomery puts it this way: “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity; for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.” You may wonder why I’ve said this much about the New Testament and not the Old. That’s because the reliability of the New is more contested than the Old Testament. Notwithstanding, the latter is as reliable as the former.
The word “Bible” means book. It is the book of books. When dying, Sir Walter Scott, the possessor of a great library called his son saying, “Bring me the book” “Which book?” asked the son. Walter replied, “There is only one book, it is the Bible.”
I wonder why I can’t make reference to the Bible in a secular gathering without been tagged as religious. If there’s one book that has stood the test of critical scholars and historians over centuries, it is the Bible.
So friends, when next you’re in that secular gathering, or writing that article or thesis of yours, feel free to quote your Bible.