On Taking The Bible Seriously

Jun 13

I had a conversation with Audra’s brother a few days ago, in which he said that he couldn’t understand what the point is for a church to exist if it’s not evangelical. I agreed with him. It quickly turns into merely a social institution (and a rather unimpressive one to the world at that).

I suspect by the term “evangelical,” he meant a church that takes the Bible literally. At least, that’s my simple definition, although it’s a little more complex than that. By and large, however, evangelical churches tend to view the Bible more literally than mainline or liberal churches. That’s why they evangelize.

Yet with words like “evangelical” or “literal,” pretty soon words like “conservative” or “liberal” start coming up, and it starts to sound political. And general lay-folk start to check out as the discussion starts to sound divisive or unimportant.

That’s why I’m thinking that in order to avoid such language (which can be misleading or confusing), I propose that we start talking about how “seriously” a person or a church takes the Bible.

After all, some parts of the Bible aren’t supposed to be taken literally–they are written in a genre of figurative language, etc. Yet, even parts of the Bible that aren’t supposed to be taken literally–even these passages must be taken very seriously.

For example, when Jesus says that it would be better to gouge your right eye if it causes you to sin, so that you go to heaven with one eye instead of hell with two eyes….there are very few people, evangelical or not, who would take this passage literally and walk around with only one eye in their sockets. Yet, this passage surely should be taken seriously. Jesus, while speaking in hyperbole, intends for his audience to take him very seriously.

Unfortunately, many churches have decided that the Bible shouldn’t be taken too seriously. For example, they marvel at the beautiful language of the prophets, but they don’t realize that the whole point of the prophets speaking is that the nation of Israel wasn’t taking God’s Word seriously. They felt it wasn’t necessary to follow Scripture, but just to appreciate its existence. The prophets declared, “Since you won’t take God’s words seriously, you will soon be crying out seriously.”

Oftentimes, the prophets were speaking at a time when the nation of Israel was experiencing great success and peace from their enemies. As a result, the people would mock the prophets. “What do you mean that God is upset with us? Don’t you see how He’s blessing us–we’re fine!” As a result, many prophets spoke what God told them to say without ever being vindicated during their lifetime. I wish I had that kind of faith in God. I don’t yet, but I seek to be that faithful to God.

Let’s commit to take the Bible more seriously than we do right now–and follow it more seriously. If we find we as churches or church leaders cannot do so any longer, we should reflect on the words of my bro-in-law: What’s the point anymore?

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