Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Battle for the Bible

I have posted about the Bible making Baptists HERE and HERE. We live in a time now when, increasingly, many of those who already claim to be Baptists reject the simple message of the Bible. Some on the fundamentalist end screw the cap on so tight that you can’t get it off, but today I write about those on the liberal end of the spectrum – those who have left the cap off the bottle and let all the contents spill out.

Chuck Queen is a popular “go-to” opinion writer for the Baptist News (which appears to be more representative than it actually is).[i] His opinion writings at that medium give ample opportunity to illustrate my point.
Chuck’s opinions make it consistently clear that he finds parts of the Bible unbelievable, that the Gospel accounts of Jesus cannot be considered accurate, and that the Bible’s picture of God is unreliable. Without a reliable view of God, Jesus, or the Bible, how shall we proceed? With what are we left? That isn’t always made clear, but to strip it down to the naked truth it is this – each individual becomes the plumb line of his or her own truth.  To quote a Baptist acquaintance[vi] who believes the Bible is full of contradictions, absurdities, and morally questionable advice (his words), “I have found the reliance on the Spirit is superior to reliance on the Bible.” While we all agree on relying upon the Holy Spirit of God to help us understand what he has written (2 Peter 1:19-21; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16), the final extension of the theories of Chuck Queen and my acquaintance is to remove the objective criterion of the Bible and insert the subjective criterion of one’s own opinions in its place. A number of liberals loudly proclaim that “the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” That sounds good and fools a lot of folks, yet the equivocation of that cry reveals that they manifestly mean a “Jesus Christ” of their own making!

The extremes of UMC Bishop Karen Oliveto exhibit that, followed to its logical end, even the “Jesus Christ” of their own making must be dethroned to no Christ at all – a weak human like you and me, struggling to learn the truth, working through his bigotry and prejudice to try to learn that God loves all people.[vii] We really shouldn’t be surprised. In spite of all that is wrong with Oliveto’s view, it demonstrates a bare honesty that is often otherwise concealed. It shows the end of those who reject the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of the Bible – at least the end for those who remain within nominal Christianity. There are, of course, those who are bold enough to ditch any pretense of Christianity altogether.

[i] Baptist News Global is a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partner. Chuck is pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky., which is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Chuck blogs at A Fresh Perspective and wants to help “Christians stuck in old paradigms embrace a more inclusive, credible, compassionate, and transformative faith.” I’ll keep my old paradigm of an inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Bible, thank you very much.
[ii] Joseph the son of Jacob
[iii] He explains that John’s Gospel reflects what John’s church “had come to believe about Jesus.”
[iv] I.e., how to dismiss that with which you do not agree
[v] Joseph the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus
[vi] Also in a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church
[vii] “Jesus the racist who was gradually learning better” is not new or unique to Oliveto. I wrote about it HERE over 8 years ago, though the original article that brought up the topic appears to be no longer accessible. 

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