I just preached a sermon this past Sunday entitled “How To Read The Bible”, attempting to give tools for how to understand difficult Scripture passages such as God commanding the Israelites to wipe out entire nations (including the infants), some of the very odd commands in the Old Testament (e.g. no shaving, no eating lobster, no tattoos, etc.), as well as the horrid account of a man throwing his wife out to a sex-crazed mob to be raped, and then later cutting her to pieces (Judges 19). I even scratched the surface of the New Testament’s texts about women’s roles in church leadership.
Let’s face it, there are plenty of uncomfortable texts in the Bible that if you were just to read them at face value, would give you reason to shut the book and seek for it to be banned from circulation.
I was talking to a friend this week about some of the previous posts I did on Rob Bell and his public stance affirming homosexual behavior, (Rob) saying “the ship has sailed” on this topic culturally, and the Church needs to move on from its stance against homosexuality. Here is the list of posts I’m referring to:
- How Did Rob Bell Become So Arrogant?
- How Rob Bell contradicts the Bible in “Love Wins” & where that led
- Rob Bell offers a Bibleless Jesus and Bibleless Christianity
- I love Rob Bell, and am going to stop blogging about him
My friend had shown me an interview Andrew Wilson did with Rob regarding his stance on homosexuality; it’s a little lengthy but is well done:
In the interview, and this is not the only place I’ve heard Rob say this, Rob asks why people are getting so hung up about the homosexuality issue when there are many more pressing issues we should be concerned with such as nuclear weapons, extreme poverty, sex trafficking, etc. Rob was saying this same type of line when his Love Wins book came out and he was being confronted by everyone about his unbiblical stance on hell.
My friend was telling me about several Christian friends of his who hold the same view…what’s the big deal about homosexuality or hell? Both friends have been heavily influenced by Rob Bell as a teacher and pastor.
But these conversations are not about homosexuality or about hell, they are entirely about the authority of the Bible. Hell and homosexuality just happen to be the two topics Rob has publicly went outside of Scripture on.
So while I wanted to stop blogging about Rob Bell, I can’t stop blogging about the need to keep all of Scripture as God’s authoritative word, a position Rob is one of the most influential voices against. Because if we give this up, the repercussions will be disastrous.
Here is a truth that every Christian, especially young Christians trying to stay relevant with contemporary culture, need to remember: When we get rid of the authority of Scripture, we lose the foundation for the authority of our faith. When you say one part of the Bible is wrong, where does the subjective picking and choosing stop? As soon as someone decides a part of the Bible is wrong, anything else they say about the Bible is now their opinion. They are now deciding what is right and wrong, rather than God telling us what is right and wrong. When culture becomes the basis of where we find our truth, we are in big trouble. Big trouble because we are no longer looking to God for truth, but to the opinions of humans. And at that point, as we decide which human to listen to, we are the ones deciding what is ultimately right or wrong. But last I checked, none of us are the ultimate Judge.
There are Christians, like Bell, who want Jesus without the Bible. But can we really do this? If we get rid of the Bible, how do we know who Jesus is? How do we know what part of his (God’s) teaching we should listen to and which part we should dismiss? Won’t we inevitably just create God the way we want him? Rather than letting God tell us who He is.
You can’t have a Bibleless Jesus and you can’t have a Bibleless Christianity.
What Christians need to do, rather than throwing out uncomfortable parts of the Bible for the sake of being more popular and making God more palatable, is to learn how to reconcile the difficult passages of Scripture as Scripture. All of the Bible has to be God’s word or else we’ve lost our compass altogether. If a compass only works half the time, and we’re not sure when it’s working and when it isn’t, we’re going to end up severely lost.
For some, like Bell, the issues are homosexuality and hell. For some it’s Jonah and the whale, Job, creation / Genesis, the strange commands of the Old Testament, the commanded wars/massacres of the Old Testament, or the women in ministry passages.
I’ve linked to the topics I’ve already wrote on and plan to write on the rest in the coming weeks.
My hope is that we can embrace all of God’s word as authoritative and still connect with our culture, without having to ignore or be embarrassed by parts that aren’t easily digestible.
If the Bible loses its authority, the Church is in serious trouble.
No one should follow the opinions of Rob Bell.
No one should follow the opinions of Noah Filipiak.
We all should follow the authoritative truth of Scripture! We’d better figure out how to do that, as our faith (and the redemption of the world) is dependent on it.
Other posts in this series:
- Understanding Weird Parts of the Old Testament: Old vs. New Covenant
- Where the old covenant came from and why it doesn’t apply to us.
- Why the old covenant is still God’s Word to us and why it is still useful for teaching, rebuking, and correcting (i.e. 1 Timothy 3:16)
- Richard Dawkins: God commanding Old Testament Wars, Genocides, Infant Killings???
- Why the Weird Old Testament Laws Ever Existed