Back to the Bible

It always comes back to the Bible.

In all the controversies dividing the church, the Bible is finally the focus. What really motivates people may be something else: fear of the new, fear of change, attitudes shaped by secular issues, yes, and prejudice. But we are often blind to all that and read our opinion into the Bible. So the final appeal is always to the Bible.

So let’s think for a minute about what “Biblical authority” really is.

Can we divide the world between those who accept the Bible’s authority and those who don’t? Would that it were that easy!

I have yet to meet anyone who simply turns to the Bible for final answers to all questions. I have yet to meet anyone who wants to apply Leviticus 18:13 literally. “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” I have yet to meet anyone who thought the Epistle to Titus was accurate in saying, “Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons.” That kind of literalism clearly won’t work.

On the other hand, the people who say, “We’ve outgrown that” or “That’s no longer relevant,” leave us with a Bible without any authority. If we can pick and choose the parts we want to pay attention to, we have made ourselves the final authority rather than the Bible.

If we want to accept Biblical authority, how can we avoid asking, “What did this mean when it was written? How does that apply to us?” And that, inevitably, leaves room for discussion.

So isn’t it time we tried really to listen to each other and learn from each other? Isn’t it time we tried to see the Bible through other eyes than our own and ask what we can learn from another’s perspective?

To walk away from that discussion is to present a divided front to the world and weaken the witness of all Christians. No one should accept the burden of that guilt without thinking again.

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