Is the Bible the Word of God? Adam Hamilton argues …
Is the Bible the Word of God? Adam Hamilton argues that the Word was Jesus, God in the flesh, and that our references to the Bible as the Word point to a form of idolatry. We worship the book rather than the God behind the book. I believe every word of the Bible has purpose for us and can lead us to right relationship with God, but I am not a literalist. I have read too much literature to think of the Bible as a Literalist. The Bible is filled with all kinds of writing: history, fiction, poetry, narrative, essay, drama, apacolyptic. Rarely is it meant to be taken literally. Inerrancy seems to me to be a fallacy as Hamilton argues.
At the same time, this does not mean we need to discard passages that do not match our contemporary understanding of God’s nature. Hamilton says, “Christians may legitimately set aside clear teachings of scripture as no longer binding, seeing them as written primarily for another time and not reflecting God’s timeless will.” P. 177. He goes on to use Acts 15, the Jerusalem council, to justify setting aside passages. In Acts 15, the disciples choose to set aside clear guidelines given by God for inclusion into the covenant of law. Jesus proclaims a new covenant of grace, and so it is not only understandable, but necessary, for the disciples to rethink how God will relate to Jew and Gentile under this new covenant. If in fact God is doing something new, establishing yet another covenant that follows law and then grace, then we should all expect to be writing new ethics about His relationship with us today. But if we are still living in the covenant of grace, then rewriting our code is ever so dangerous.
In Acts 15, the disciples were divinely ordained by the Holy Spirit to discover and offer this new covenant of grace through Jesus to the whole world. If the church is not entering a time of a new covenant, then we are relying on our own thoughts and desires without the direction of the Holy Spirit. This is a dangerous undertaking. The church is facing a war with our society over ethics. Society has chosen to normalize divorce, abortion, a welfare state, and now is in process of changing its sexual ethic. The mainline church is dying. Society is rejecting old forms and antiquated thought systems of the church. So to stay in step, the church is changing its ethics. To do so, it must reject passages of scripture that offend. It may be that God will establish a new covenant that does not offend. I do not believe we live in that covenant today. Jesus clearly identifies the covenant of grace as one with ethical standards. Everything we want is not OK. We need to keep the Bible intact and wait on God’s Spirit to reveal a new order. He died on the cross to create the grace covenant. I can only imagine what He will have to do to establish the covenant of Glory.
Blog July 29
I am preparing a sermon series on heaven and hell for this September. There is certainly a lot of widespread opinion on the topic. It seems the modern mind has little room for hell and so many have decided it does not exist or is empty. Jesus has a lot to say about heaven and hell too, but he seems to have no problem with their existence. As I am preparing, my ten-year old grandson Isaac initiates this conversation:
Isaac: Grandpa. I sometimes wonder if heaven is for real. I mean how do you know?
Me: Just because you have never been somewhere to see it does not mean it does not exist.
Isaac: Then how do you know?
Me: Sometimes you have to trust others who have been there. And trust is a hard thing.
Isaac: You mean like Mema? I forgot that she was there. OK
That was the end of the conversation. How easy the mind of a ten year old who trusts those he loves. He believes we would never lie to him. He knows that. It makes me wonder why so many today think Jesus would lie to them. The only conclusion I have been able to draw so far is that they must not know how much He loves them.
So I am evaluating the possibility of taking my grandsons shark fishing next summer. After two weeks with them this year, I can see that something exciting is required. In my normal way of operating, I began reading about shark fishing and remembered a scene from many years ago on the Jersey shore…pickup trucks lined up along the shore shark fishing. They used a cannon to launch the bait several hundred yards out. As I read about shark fishing and cannon launchers, I kept thinking, “you are on to something.” I go so far as to watch some guys drinking beer in their garage and making a potato gun and shooting oranges at a bucket. I must admit that after they had three beers it was pretty funny. I wonder, “To what extent am I willing to go to create a memory in the heart of those boys?” I am already planning for NEXT summer. I have learned how very important a story is to the life of a family. My family lives off of our stories. They bind us together. They help us laugh even when tragedy strikes. Stories are glue. Most of the time they just happen, but I have learned that we can create an environment where a story is most likely to unfold.
Jesus uses stories to mesmerize crowds and to create a bond among the disciples. He makes things happen. He even goes so far as to walk on water. He waits days to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead…dramatic anticipation. He plans for stories to happen because He knows that stories are irrevocable. They are the very glue of belief and create intimate connection. So, guess what, next summer, we are going shark fishing.
Bonhoeffer. Blog week 2 Costly Discipleship
When grace is cheap, discipleship is easy. Less and less accountability for spiritual growth turns the church into more of a political institution than a transforming spiritual vessel. The church becomes so busy with accommodating, it forgets its purpose. To survive, the church has to bring in money to pay the bills. The people with the most money push leaders to compromise. To keep the cathedral open, leaders compromise or turn a blind eye to those who are pushing their own agenda and not God’s, leaving room for sin to get a foothold. Those who compromise cannot understand that a new compromise is just around the corner, and those who see the ploy for what it is get frustrated and quit. So who do you side with? Side with those who have a personal agenda and you keep the doors open singing Amazing Grace until you retire. Side with those who will not compromise the Gospel and you lose the cathedral status and position. This is how the church in Germany failed. It chose to compromise with money and power, to keep the cathedrals. In the end Germany lost both the Cathedrals and spiritual integrity. Evil overran the church.
So, for the church to maintain integrity, it must be in union with the gospel of the New Testament. This is not the cheap grace being peddled on TV or in most mainline churches. The good news of Christ is simply, “you must take up a cross.” Any discipleship that is not sacrificial is not of the gospel of Jesus. It is a gospel with its own agenda. Being a Christian was never meant to be free or easy; and though God loves us, He never intended us to stay just as we are. Real change for the church cannot be separated from pain. The church in America has too long been tied to cathedrals. The real gospel compels us to something new. The day of multi million dollar debt to create cathedrals is over in America. The new church will not be connected to land or buildings. Those buildings will one day be turned into institutional warehouses that exist to take care of the lower classes or just bulldozed. And how do I know this? History repeats itself.