Consider these four questions. I have asked these same questions to Christian groups many times. I ask people, if their answer to the question is “yes,” to raise their hands. Here we go:
Question 1: Do you believe the Bible is God’s Word? In the context of a church service, or a Christian conference, almost every hand quickly shoots up.
Question 2: Do you believe the Bible is true in all that it intends to say?[i] Once again, the room is filled with bold hands in the air.
Question 3: Are you willing to submit all your thoughts and opinions on every subject to what it says? Awkward pause. A few hands are held high. About half the hands are partially raised.
Question 4: Are you willing to do what the Bible says, even if you don’t want to? After a longer pause, about a quarter of the hands go up.
Do we, as Christians, believe the Bible is God’s Word? Absolutely! No question about it. We believe the Bible comes from God. Do we believe it is true? Of course!
Are we willing to submit our thoughts and opinions on every subject to what it says? Whoa! Slow down there. Let’s not get carried away.
In regard to the last question, “Are you willing to do what the Bible says, even if you don’t want to?”—I am not talking about willful disobedience. There are plenty of times, to my shame, that I know well what God says about something in His Word, but I don’t do it God’s way, I do it my way. I sin. Maybe you have some experience with this as well. If there is anything “good” about willful disobedience, at least we acknowledge that God’s Word is true and that we are choosing to disobey it.
I believe we have an increasing number of Christians today who say, “I know the Bible says to save sex for marriage, but the Bible was written a long time ago and I am not sure those standards apply in today’s world.” This person has made the decision that the Bible is not a sufficient guide for every matter of faith and practice, and replaced the clear teaching of God’s Word with the values of the world. On the surface, this person has rejected God’s plan for sex, but at a deeper level, they have rejected the authority of His Word. Today we have a new kind of Christian, a person who says, “I love Jesus! But I don’t believe every word of the Bible.”
[i] This question is worded in such a way as to adhere to the doctrine of “intentional” inerrancy. Each text of Scripture means what God, through the human author, intended it to mean. For instance, in Psalm 91:4 we read, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.” Based on our study of this passage, do we conclude that it is the intention of the author to declare that God has literal feathers and wings? No, we would make the interpretive choice that God, through the human author, is using a metaphor that describes God’s caring protection of His children.