Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Good God Who Speaks

It is a sad feature of our moment in time that Christians are ridiculed for their confidence in the Bible as the word of God and that this ridicule has an edge of suspicion about it. Our appeal to the Bible is understood by some as a personal power-play. We are simply trying to impose our own opinion or our own religious preferences. Others suggest even darker motives. Five decades ago a visiting American evangelist could repeat ‘the Bible says …’ and Sydney took notice. Hundreds of thousands wanted to know what the Bible says, what God says. What he has to say changes everything for good. Today, however, the response is more often ‘How do you know?’ or ‘Why should I listen to your inhumane religious bigotry?’

It’s not hard to understand the reasons why this shift has taken place. At the level of ideas, more than a century of suspicion has been generated by the likes of Marx (it’s all about gaining financial advantage), Freud (it’s all about sex), and Nietzsche (it’s all about personal or group power). We’ve become used to questioning the motives of those who tell us things, often with very good reason. Strangely, one of the only things we are prepared to take on face value is the insistence that there are no such things as facts, only interpretations. At another more basic level, the ugly face of religious bigotry was forced into our consciousness by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A more general assault on all religious claims since then has been reinforced by one report after another of sexual exploitation by clergy and the concerted efforts of a rejuvenated atheism (the new atheism is in fact just the old atheism made sexy).

In such an environment it is tempting for Christians to soft peddle a bit on our insistence that the Bible is the word of God and the word of God is worth a hearing. In our efforts to distance ourselves from the religious zealots — whether the violent type or just the dogmatic type — we concede too much to the masters of suspicion. We can be taken in too quickly by claims that human language is too fragile to convey the truth about God, that the real involvement of human beings in writing the Bible necessarily involves error or ignorance, or that these are just the words of believers bound in their own time and space which must be supplemented or revised if they are to be taken seriously in our time and space. So it is worth taking a moment to remember why we treat the Bible as the word of God and why we take what it teaches so seriously. Quite simply, Christians do this because Jesus taught us to do this. Read More

Also see: "Why You Should Read Through the Entire Bible as Fast as Possible"

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