As a church leader and Christian I read a lot of stuff. I actually enjoy reading stuff that comes from a different viewpoint than my own. I do this not because I like to argue. I’m not seeking out opportunities to prove them wrong or to “straighten them out”. Rather, I do it because I am constantly learning and I am open to changing my opinions on some things. While doing this I have noticed a very disturbing trend. I have read many things that were passionate, well written and strongly argued. However, many of these are missing one very important element. They often leave me asking, “But what does the Bible say?”
When I read these things there are some fairly common arguments attached to them:
- I outgrew that. Very often I see where the author talks about things that they were taught as a child or as a young Christian and how their views differ now. They talk about how and why they were able to move past it. Certainly we should grow as Christians, but this approach often works from the assumption that everything, or at least many things, that we are taught as children are invalid.
- Everybody’s Doing it. Ok, I have not ever read something written by a Christian that actually used those words. But, I have read many things that pointed to societal norms as justification for the actions of a Christian. Have we forgotten that we live in a fallen world? Have we forgotten that society belongs to the enemy? Have we forgotten that we, as Christians, are called to be set apart, to be different? As a friend of mine often says, “Lost people do lost things.” This is very true. As such we should not look to the behavioral norms of society to determine how we should behave.
- It’s my right. I have heard this one MANY times in a number of heated discussions. The truth is that there are many things that the law of our land says are ok, but that we should avoid. Did you know that in many states adultery was once illegal? However, today most states no longer have such a law or don’t enforce it. If there is no law against it does that make it ok for me to cheat on my wife? The obvious answer is NO! But, the argument that it’s ok to do something because the government says it’s ok would say that this is ok too.
I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. But, here are some things I would present for your consideration:
- The authority of Scripture. As Christians we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” This verse does not leave out certain verse. It does not say that some of it is only for THAT time in history. No, according to the verse, to accept some of it is to accept all of it.
- The basis of our faith. As Christians everything that we claim to believe comes from this book. It is our source of truth. However, all to often we ignore it when we want to know how to feel, to think, or to act in regards to a certain topic or situation. Sometimes we will even willfully act in opposition to what it says.
- My crisis of faith. When God called me to ministry I realized that everything I knew or believed, I believed because it was what I had be taught. I realized that I needed to take the time to read and study it for myself. This is not to say that I doubted anything that I was taught. I simply needed to have the confidence that only comes from actually reading it and studying it for myself and basing my beliefs on that.
Please hear me when I say that I am not discounting everything that people write that differs from my view. I also don’t seek to condemn anyone that writes something that might be reflected in my words above. I simply want to encourage people to take some time to consider what the Bible says about a given topic. If you are passionately arguing for a certain viewpoint, but cannot point to any Scripture that backs up your view, then there is something missing from your argument. This is not to say that every article that lacks Scripture is wrong. Nor am I saying that just because a person points to a verse or two means they are right. But, I would say that if you can find no scripture to back your viewpoint, then you might need to reconsider that view.
At the end of the day I love to talk about such things and I want to hear what you think. Don’t be surprised, however, if in the course of our conversation, I ask,
“But, what does the Bible say?”Matt Norman
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