We urge evangelical Christian institutions to stand in the gap, to create academic programs and cooperate in field archaeology ("digs") and to promote the importance of biblical archaeology in our churches. This is an expensive, but necessary undertaking.
It is necessary because biblical archaeology has not only enlightened our reading of Scripture (the recently discovered Tel-Dan inscription, for example, illuminates the character of David's dynasty) but has often confirmed the Bible's historicity.
It is necessary because, over the past 10 to 15 years, Middle Eastern archaeology has shifted from interpretation of the evidence in the light of the written records (including Scripture) to a bias against giving Scripture the benefit of the doubt. [Archaeologist William] Dever himself bears responsibility for much of this secularization and has alienated the constituency most likely to cheer and financially support the archaeology of the Middle East: committed Jews and Christians. Believers must once again firmly grasp the task and conduct original research in a faith-friendly manner.
Evangelicals are committed to fostering a belief in the trustworthiness of Scripture. That requires both argument and evidence. And the evidence, buried in the tells of the Middle East, requires painstaking excavation and analysis. Who will provide the funds? Who will lead the way?
Archaeology involves learning about the past through the surviving remnants of its material culture. Relating it to surviving texts passed down from antiquity is useful, if ultimately a spin-off, and harder to do than people often realize. But if conducting "original research in a faith-friendly manner" means anything besides going without preconception wherever the evidence leads the researcher, then it isn't acceptable. This has to be made crystal clear to any funders in advance. I hope this is what the writer was thinking too, but I'd be happier if he had made it explicit.