If there is one thing we Christians are good at, it’s arguing. That’s a harsh thing to say, I know, but unfortunately it’s the reputation many believers have built for themselves. Don’t believe me? Just read to the following words: Predestination, Bible translation, Biblical tradition, baptism, prayer, faith vs. works, the list goes on. Any one of these subjects could set the staunchest Bible study aflame with furious debate.
In a recent article in Relevant magazine, writer Steven Harrell described these arguments as a “Bible Verse Arms Race”,
The key to winning is to pile up as many verses on your side of the argument as you can while simultaneously discounting your opponent’s verses because they aren’t reading them in the correct context or they have the original language wrong. It’s universally understood that New Testament verses always trump the Old Testament, and Jesus’ Red Letters always trump Paul. The game is most popular among high school students, seminary students and Emergent theology bloggers. (I’ll let you draw your own ironies from there.)
Harrell continues his article by explaining how many Bible-literate Christians use scripture to create God “in their image”. Instead of focusing on the message of the gospel (our salvation through the grace of Christ) many Christians have started using certain verses as a means to exclude others and exemplify themselves. Harrell’s views are shared with a number of other writers who see a danger in becoming too literal in your Christian faith. In his review of The Erosion of Inerrancy, G.K. Beale writes,
At various points throughout the book, Enns appeals to this incarnational notion, contending that since Christ was fully divine and fully human, then so is Scripture. Accordingly, we need to accept the "diversity" or "messiness" of Scripture, just as we accept all of the aspects of Jesus' humanity. Also at various points in the book is the warning that modern interpreters should not impose their modern views of history and scientific precision on the ancient text of the Bible. Such a foreign imposition results in seeing problems in the Bible that are really not there.
Another author, Rachel Held Evans, went even further by spending an entire year as a traditional, Christian wife and chronicling her experiences in the book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. While each of these writers takes a different approach to the subject matter, their message remains the same. Christians were called to be witnesses for Christ on earth, and we cannot effectively witness for him if we are too busy arguing with one another. Be sure not to become wise in your own eyes, least you end up looking foolish before God.
*This Article First Published 7/8/2013