The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian. The centre and core of all the Bible is history. Everything else that the Bible contains is fitted into an historical framework and leads up to an historical climax. The Bible is primarily a record of events. (History and Faith by J Gresham Machen)
In the previous quote Mr Machen defines history as a main framework for building faith. Similarly, the people over at Living Hope Ministries in Brigham City Utah feel the same way. They recently made a video that strives to discredit the Book of Mormon due to lack of historical evidences found to support the Book vs. the Bible that has many historical evidences to support it.
As a counter-attack, people at the FAIR LDS site have put out a video on how many things in the Bible can not be historically proven while acknowledging that most things in the Book of Mormon can not be supported historically. (As a side note, there is an interesting site called The Nephi Project where George Potter traces Lehi’s trail through the Arabian desert by using the Book of Mormon as a reference.)
The question then is: Does one need historical evidence to believe and have faith?
My initial response is that one doesn’t need to have historical evidence to believe. The definition of faith, according to the Bible in Hebrews 11:1 is that it is the “substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” The Bible doesn’t support history as something needed to build faith.
Secondly, I feel that Even if something can be historically proven, one still has to have the witness from the Spirit in order to believe on it.I’m reminded of the classic Book of Mormon scripture in Moroni 10 that says “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” Therefore, it appears that a witness from the Holy Spirit is the most essential element to one’s faith.
I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with my faith when I try to reason with both Bible and Book of Mormon stories that seem to have no “evidence.” However, I always fall back on the witness I’ve received from the Holy Ghost that both books are true and they come from God. I know they are both true because I’ve felt and seen the fruits of the Spirit in my life as I’ve read and applied principles found in both books. As historical “evidences” appear they are an added bonus to my faith, but not the main source.
What has your experience been with either the Bible or the Book of Mormon? Do you feel historical evidence is necessary to have faith?