Our culture has become incredibly polarizing in SO many areas, politics and religion chief amongst them. Both genres have so many things to KNOW, and opportunities to disagree. As a person whose life is dedicated to spreading the latter, I have found myself to be perhaps a dying breed, a moderate, in both areas. It is my experience that balance in life is important. That EACH side is capable of, and actually does have valid points, ideas, and opinions, and the “truth” or “best solution” is usually somewhere in the middle, and involves a combination of things from both views. Call me crazy, but it’s what I believe.
With that said, in doing some recent study, discussion and reflection for a message I gave this past weekend, I came across an area where my views are not quite so moderate. In fact, if I am being honest, they are very much on one side. But if you’ll track with me, I think it makes some sense.
The Bible, I believe, is God’s Word to His people. Sure it was “written” by some 40 men, over the course of 1,600 years – and is really not just ONE book but rather 66 different pieces of literature, made up of differing genres and styles – but I believe it to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. Paramount in my believing this, is the fact that the entirety of the New Testament was written by people who either walked and talked with Jesus Himself, or spoke directly to someone who did. Their accounts of His life and teachings would be most accurate, and they were willing to die for their beliefs. In this same New Testament, Jesus frequently teaches, preaches from, and quotes the Old Testament, and so, if I am to believe He is the Son of God as He claimed to be – I must believe He would only use trustworthy material from which to instruct.
I also, through careful and dedicated study, have come to believe that the books, phones, and media that we hold in our hands today, and call the Bible, is 99.9% accurate to what was written down by those original authors so many years ago. Over 10,000 pieces of evidence (copies of transcripts) have helped me come to that conclusion. That number is OVERWHELMING when compared to the under 100 copies of other well known works of ancient literature such as “The Iliad” or “Gallic Wars” – and we have no issue whatsoever trusting those.
Now, with all the “evidence” out of the way, let me get to my real point. If I believe the Bible to be God’s Word, and I do, then I have to believe ALL of it. I have to accept it in its ENTIRETY. I have to accept the things I like, and the things I don’t – believe the things that are easy to, AND the ones that take a lot of faith – and trust that God, in His omnipotence, would have a reason behind every thought, story, and truth that is explained in it’s pages. I believe I have no other choice. It’s either all true, or none of it can be trusted at all.
Let me do a little more explaining though. HOW the Bible is true is a completely different matter. What I am NOT saying is that I believe the entirety of scripture was intended to be interpreted literally. I KNOW there will be those who disagree, and I am all right with that. I do not believe we are at irreconcilable ends of a spectrum. I just believe styles like poetry, simile, allegory and song – are meant to be interpreted differently than history.
Studying the Bible is hard work. Of this I am sure. Some of it is incredibly simple to read and understand, but has implications that are mind-boggling. An example;
John 3:16–17 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Other parts of it are only understood after careful examination of the original language, culture and intended audience. And EVEN THEN, there are opposing views and debates as to what the “right” or “intended” meanings were. It is in fact, an compilation of ancient works, written to and about incredibly different groups of people, and about an invisible Being, capable of creating the entire universe in which we live. I think it would only make sense that parts of it would be somewhere between, difficult to understand, and “so mysterious” that we will probably never truly know. Our only hope in those circumstances, is to pray that God’s Holy Spirit would reveal to us the truth for our lives, and enable us to share it with our world, in humility, with love and grace.
There have always been parts of the Bible I have struggled to believe – and I am sure there always will be. There continue to be parts that don’t line up with the culture in which I live, and it would make my life much easier if I could just remove them or believe they are no longer true. But what I have come to understand, is that those issues belong to me, and not to the text. The struggle is mine – due to MY sin, or separation from God – and someday – He will make it all clear to me. My job for know is to trust and believe – and be one who follows the truths and teachings He has spoken to me in His Word.
In the end, this piece is not about whether I believe in a literal 6 day creation, the reality of Job as an historical figure, or if I am a pre or post millennialist. Those thoughts can be saved for a different day, if ever. What it IS about is the fact that I believe that inside every part of God’s Word – no matter what they style or genre they are written in, or who the author is – there is truth. Through all of them, God is revealing something real and miraculous about Himself, His story, and His relationship with His people – and we are better off if we can learn to look for it, listen to it, and make every attempt to live it out.
His Word is truth. All of it. Every little bit. That is THE SIDE I am on – and of that, there’s no interpretation necessary.