Christians have probably argued more about the Bible, and how to interpret it, than almost anything else. Many churches say they believe the “Bible alone”, echoing the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura. Yet I believe there is always a gap between the claim and the actual belief.
I am a christian who believes the Bible reveals God to us, but I want to try to show you that everyone disbelieves some parts of the Bible.
And I want to show you why this matters.
Do you believe every one of these teachings?
- “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Psalm 137:9
- “…. if the mold has spread in the house, it is a persistent defiling mold; the house is unclean. It must be torn down — its stones, timbers and all the plaster ….” Leviticus 14:44-45
- “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.” Leviticus 20:27
- “…. an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul ….” 1 Samuel 18:10
Now I suggest (and hope) that no christian would think those commands should be believed and acted on today. And I would guess most christians would have trouble believing that God, the author of “every good and perfect gift”, would send an evil spirit to someone.
Now about now you may be thinking that there are good reasons to no longer apply these Old Testament passages, for we are in a new covenant. I agree, but please stick with me for a moment.
The Old Testament may have the most obviously inapplicable passages, but I suggest no-one believes and applies everything in the New Testament either.
- “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:29
- “Give to the one who asks you” Matthew 5:42
- “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Luke 16:18
- “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:33
- “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:5
- “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” James 2:24
These passages trouble us, for who believes we should believe and obey them all as they stand? Again, I’m sure most of you will have reasons why we shouldn’t take them literally, but this brings us to an important lesson and an important question.
An important lesson
The important lesson is clear.
If we can admit this, then I believe we can get on with understanding the Bible better and obeying God more.
An important question
So now we face an important question:
With this post I am beginning a series on understanding and obeying the Bible in a way that will please God. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but after 50 years as a christian, trying to serve and obey God, having read the Bible right through several times and having read and studied the New Testament in great detail, even undertaking some formal (post graduate) theological study, I believe I have some insights to share.
And I hope you will walk this part of the road with me and add your insights too.
In the words of Richard of Chichester, I pray that this series will help us all “know him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly”.
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