Clinging to the Word
March 3, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
I read a discouraging article last week titled, Evangelicals are Losing the Battle for the Bible. And They’re Just Fine with That. The author traces current opinions and statistical trends regarding Christians’ attitudes toward the Bible. Here’s a sampling of what he reports:
- One young seminary graduate says that “he no longer regards the Bible as inerrant, dictated by God, historically accurate in all of its claims or even internally consistent with itself.” He currently directs a training program for prospective pastors.
- Assessing the broader attitude toward the Bible in America, the author quotes the American Bible Society’s research that “just one in five of all Americans – and only 13 percent of those under age 30 – currently believes that the Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word.”
- The Barna Group reports that “more than 20 percent of self-proclaimed ‘born-again’ Christians disagree that the Bible is ‘is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.’”
What we find is that not only in our broader American culture, but also among professing Christians, a high esteem of the Bible’s inerrancy, sufficiency, and necessity is dwindling. As long as we hold to a high view of Scripture, specifically its inerrancy, sufficiency, and necessity, as our denomination does, we will find ourselves increasingly in a minority group, even in church-saturated Johnson County. What do we do with this?
1. Do not be surprised. The apostle Paul said, “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). This is the natural course of the human heart when clouded by sin. Our nation has a rich Christian heritage and was founded on many Christian values and principles, but that does not mean it is a Christian nation. If 80% of Americans do not believe the Bible is the Word of God and should be taken literally*, we should not be surprised that the majority of Americans would not share our biblical values and principles.
2. Do not be arrogant. Those who do not hold to the truth of Scripture have been blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). If we hold to the truth of Jesus, it is a gift of God. For, if we comprehend and hold to the truth of Scripture, it is God who “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:6). We do not have any place to boast before others. Instead, let’s be like Jesus, “when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
3. Do not compromise. Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 4 is couched in his commendation of the inerrancy, sufficiency, and necessity of Scripture. He charges Timothy to remain steadfast in the Word and to maintain a Word-centered ministry. It’s the Word of God that makes one wise for salvation. It is the Word of God that is profitable in all of life. It is the Word of God that equips one for every good work. It is with and through the Word of God that one’s ministry is fulfilled in God’s presence. Do not compromise your commitment to God’s Word.
- Pastor Dale
* I have to acknowledge there is debate about this word “literally.” Tim Keller, a PCA pastor, says, “I don’t know of anybody who’s a biblical literalist.” What Keller is referring to is the reality that the Bible has many different genres of literature, each requiring their own interpretive approach. So, poetic writings like the Psalms and Song of Solomon are not to be taken “literally” (her “nose is like a tower of Lebanon”… really?). This doesn’t undermine, though, our confidence in the inerrant message of truth communicated through these various genres.