Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Does God have the right to…? (and you can complete that question any way you want.)
We older evangelicals believe we know the answer to that question and can’t imagine any Christians not agreeing with us. “Yes! Of course God has the right to do, or ask of us whatever it is he wants! We live under the authority of God, as expressed in the Bible.”
But the truth is, even if we believe he has the right to order our lives, even those of us who willingly say we put ourselves under his authority, still buck his commands occasionally.
I’m asked all the time why I decided in my late 60’s to tackle the LGBT topic. The answer is simple. The real battle today is not LGBT questions or same-sex marriage, or homophobia, co-habitation, racial discrimination, or divorce. Those are simply the unintended consequences of a far more dangerous trend. Here’s what that is;
Confidence in the authority of the Bible is being eroded. Even if younger evangelical believe the Bible is inspired by God and has been accurately translated through the centuries, many doubt that it is God’s will for them today. It’s often expressed this way,
“We believe the Bible is the word of God, and has many fine moral teachings. But it was written to simple people in completely different time in history. We have the Holy Spirit and the Christian community to help us understand God’s current views on moral cultural issues. On some of those, the Bible has outlived its usefulness.”
So what does our U.S. Constitution and the Bible have in common? They are both under attack!
The more liberal members of the Supreme Court, believe the Constitution was not meant to define for all times what we believe as Americans. In their view, the Constitution is “a living document.” By that they mean each generation has the right to revisit some aspects of the Constitution and re-interpret it to express the current will of the people. “People wrote and affirmed the Constitution in light of what they knew and believed at the time. The Constitution was not meant to be interpreted absolutely and strictly as written, for all time,” they say.
“Constitutional” members of the Supreme Court, like Justice Sealing, take a different view. Our founders knew best how this nation should be governed and we have an obligation to interpret all laws based on the Constitution as written. We trust their wisdom, more than ours.
The parallels between the battle for the authority of the Bible and the Constitution are obvious. There is a generation who want to relegate each one to “an interesting and valuable document, but in some ways outdated to deal with modern society.”
Brian McLaren, the Martin Luther of the Emergent Church Movement, wrote in A New Kind of Christianity, “I encourage Christians to read the Bible as an ‘inspired library’ and not a list of moral absolutes, never to be questioned.” (No constitution for him!)
For serious Christians, the Bible is our “constitution.” It is a “living document” in that obeying it brings life. But God’s will for humans has not changed and he still expresses his authority and his will through scripture. We doubt that to our peril.
So, what are we to do about this threat? Think about talking to your older children or grandchildren about this blog and the similarities to the fight for both the Bible and the Constitution. To reinterpret the traditional understanding of the Bible is to say, “we know better than God.” Dangerous business indeed!
Next week, I’m going to discuss a book by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Christian. It will help you understand better why many younger Christians have lost their confidence in the Bible. Read that blog first before you talk to your older children about what you believe and why.
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