I recently got an earful of anti-Bible and anti-Christian vilification from an unbeliever. I realized that the Bible and Christianity were being understood by the narrative of the secular anti-Christian culture, that the Bible is misogynistic, pro-slavery, and sends people to Hell lightly. I realized what a violation of fairness that evaluation is. Rather, we are to understand any religion through the eyes of its strongest proponents. Only then can we fairly disagree. We have to show that we understand their point of view to their satisfaction. Such was my study of other religions at Wheaton College. After that, I studied liberal Christianity at a liberal seminary from strong proponents.
Actually, the Bible and Christianity should be evaluated in a very opposite way from the critics. Christianity was a key to ending slavery among Christians in the second century. Christians could not see enslaving brothers in the Lord and others created in the image of God. Slavery at that time was not race-based slavery, but a matter of indenture due to economic situations.
The Bible lifted the position of women far beyond the Greeks and the Middle Eastern and Roman cultures and really more than all the major cultures of the world. Some point to the wife’s submission to the husband and are very negative to this. The Kings of Israel had multiple wives, isn’t that misogynistic? So how did Christianity establish monogamy in the Western World? All the Kings of western nations were required to be monogamous. What a contrast! What happened. The west came to enforce the teaching of Jesus that God’s ideal was one man and one woman for a lifetime. This greatly transcended the culture and elevated women to a level of respect previously not entertained. In Plato, women were only part of the value of men. But in the Bible women are created equal in God’s image, deserving care and love to the level that Jesus loved his Church. (Eph. 5). Nothing was ever heard before of such a level of respect for women. Read the history of India, China, or Japan and note the contrast. On the status of women compared to the Roman world, see Rodney Stark. The contrast is amazing.
The Bible has been the great lifter of humanity. The idea of just courts and clear evidence is from the Bible; the basic equal value of all people comes from the Bible, you won’t find it in other cultures to this level. But you would not know this from the social media attack.
Only a few years back, Reuven Hammer, the Jewish Conservative Rabbi wrote The Torah Revolution on ten revolutionary matters of progress from the Torah, great advances in the world. But when we do not understand the culture of the times and don’t treat the Bible fairly, then there is arrogant disrespect.
One example of cultural context is the trial by ordeal of the woman accused by her husband of adultery (Num. 5). She drinks the dust of the Temple mixed in water. If she does not get sick, she is innocent. This looks like a terrible thing for the poor woman. It is actually the opposite, a great gain for women. In that culture and today in parts of the Middle East, a woman has no equal justice in the courts. Two witnesses to adultery are not required. The husband could kill her from suspicion or false accusation. So, therefore, the women are given supernatural protection by God in the Temple and a way out of false accusation or unjust suspicion. She is protected by the test and God supernaturally acts for her. If innocent, her husband must receive her, not divorce her, and not again accuse her. All Western movements seeking greater equality only came about in nations influenced by Christianity. Can there be a fair discussion?
The emphasis on care for the poor and marginalized comes from the Bible. You will not find it in most other cultures. The underclasses were despised. The emphasis on mercy was the key to establish hospitals. Hospitals were a Christian invention.
One critic said the Bible was pre-science and its ideas antiquated. However, the Bible and biblical faith only arose leading to great advancement due to Biblical emphases. As many have pointed out; Stark, Whitehead of Harvard (Science and the Modern World), and the historian Herbert Butterfield, the Bible taught that nature was the creation of a God of order and followed his laws. Such laws could be discovered. This was a key to science. The Bible anticipated science and its accuracies show its amazing divine origins.
The quest for human rights only arose in cultures influenced by the Bible. Again and again, we see how advanced the Bible is.
Most of what I write here is not new to cultural apologists.