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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I Don't Need the Bible to be Good: A Straw Man Answered.

I am a (theologically) conservative Christian, which means that when I approach the Bible, I do so with the intent to try to understand and conserve the original meaning and purpose which is being conveyed in a given text.

This is opposed to someone who may want to liberate the text of Scripture from its "sexist", "homophobic", and otherwise benighted context, to try and find whatever relevant gems still be applicable for us Christians today.

I "out" myself as a conservative to make it clear that I don't just tolerate or "deal with" the text of Scripture; I wholeheartedly believe in it's message.

I recently  listened to a Youtube video where a former Christian, an apostate from the faith shared with his viewing audience a sort of "revelation" that he had concerning the Bible.

It is as follows:

  I don't need the Bible to be a caring person. I don't need the Bible in order to be patient. I don't need the Bible in order  to be able to love someone unconditionally. I don't need the Bible in order to be kind to people. I don't need the Bible to tell me that these are qualities that I need to have. 

I think that people can be loving, caring, patient, compassionate, [and] merciful without the use of a holy book: the Bible.

This is simply a straw-man argument.

While I hold that the Bible gives us invaluable information on how people should express such virtues as the ones above to the ultimate glory of God, I agree with the general sentiment that neither the Bible nor any special revelation, is necessary in order to know what is good or to do good in a most basic or fundamental sense.   

Ironically, this is a biblical concept.

See Romans chapter 2:

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

It is God who has written His moral law on the hearts of all men, so that they, we, are without excuse, having a kind of instinctive grasp on what is right or wrong.

This is not an indubitable, infallible, all-encompassing moral sense, but one that functions in such a way that men can rightly be held accountable for their actions, completely apart from the special revelation of Scripture, et cetera. 

So we see that if this confused post-believer would have actually studied Scripture, it would have answered his misconceptions about the very thing which he had a misconception about in the first place. 

In the Bible we have a written standard that bears testimony to the moral sense that God has given us, which can help draw to God a person who has seared their conscience, suppressing it by their evil will.

The Bible tells us that the law (the thou shalts and shalt nots) was given to us a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

In Scripture we read what God's holiness and justice requires, our inability to live up to those requirements and, hence, our desperate need for a Savior.

The non-Christian shouldn't boast of his knowledge of good and evil; it's what first condemned Adam and Eve and would condemn the rest of us too, if not for Jesus! 

However, without the Bible we would only have a basic knowledge of good and evil, enough to condemn us for doing wrong when we knew to do right, but not enough that we could have an abundant, God-honoring life that comes with keeping His commandments and orienting our lives after God. 

When I think about the Bible and the content therein, my mind always goes to one of my favorite psalms:  
The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19)

The Bible is an epic tale of creation and redemption, with a multi-faceted purpose. 

What a shame it would be if we let our own ignorance obscure the very Words of God to us.

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