But how much are christians free to change while remaining true to God and the Bible?
Many christians fear any change is a slippery slope that will lead them right away from being faithful to God’s revealed truth. Is change a slippery slope?
The domino theory
It is not our place to question the Bible, it is said, but to allow it to question us. There is certainly truth in this, but it is a truth that only applies once we know what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through the Bible.
If we do question the Bible, it is also said, we find ourselves on a slippery slope to liberal christianity where we just believe what we want to believe. Once the domino of complete trust in the Bible falls, other dominoes inevitably follow.
Some of the dominoes
There is some truth in this domino theory. For example, if we decide that evolution is scientifically true, and Genesis 1-3 is not literal history, then we face some other significant questions.
- Were Adam and Eve real people, or not?
- Did sin and death enter the world through two people, or were they there already?
- Is original sin (however we understand this) a biblical and true doctrine?
- What else in the Bible might be less than literal history?
I will be looking at these and other questions in the weeks ahead.
We have been this way before?
But these types of questions are not actually new for christians, most of us have already made choices like this. I have already argued that all christians disbelieve some parts of the Bible. There are parts of the Old Testament virtually all christians accept as not true or relevant for us today.
And there are parts of the New Testament that are being re-interpreted today by many christians also. For example, Felicity Dale, on her Simply Church blog, has been blogging for a while on a new perspective on the role of women in the church, which involves changes to traditional understandings of some Bible passages.
If the domino theory didn’t apply in those cases, why think it must in others?
Avoid the extremes?
The domino theory effectively argues that there are only two possible conclusions. Either the Bible is 100% literally and historically true, or it is effectively useless. But this ignores all the possible middle ground that almost all of us actually inhabit. The domino theory is a recipe for pushing us to extremes.
Knowing when to stop
It is surely a matter of knowing when to stop. Or, more importantly, knowing how to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. And that means studying, praying, being willing to examine our motives, and looking for the consensus among the christian church worldwide that indicates that the Holy Spirit is leading God’s people.
Refuse to be burdened by a yoke of slavery
Let us not allow ourselves to be intimidated into a slavery that doesn’t allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into new understandings. We don’t need to fear the slippery slope, though we need to be cautious.