The Bible is a wonderful book. It is the story of humanity’s search for God and of God’s loving response. It is the record of God’s mercy in the face of human sin, and it shows us how God’s grace ultimately overcomes humanity’s greed and lust and hunger for power.
Sadly, however, this wonderful book—whose primary message is one of hope and love and new life—has been, and continues to be, misunderstood and misused by the Christian community. As a result, a text with the capacity to transform lives sometimes causes pain and contributes to the division of the church into sects and factions.
Along these lines, I just read yet another article—one of many with a similar theme, I’m afraid—this time a sermon by a prominent American church leader. In it, he kindly and eloquently refers to his point of view on a particular matter—and that of his congregation—as “the biblical position.” In another place he defends his viewpoint as “simply standing for what the Bible teaches.”
In response to this brother’s well-meaning but wrongheaded assertions, I have one sincere and earnest request. Please stop saying stuff like that!
Your view—whatever it is, whatever the issue—is not the only “biblical” position. People of good will and charity differ on their interpretation of the Bible. To refer to one’s own view as the biblical position and to one’s particular interpretation as the one which reflects what the Bible really teaches comes dangerously close to disdainful arrogance.
It does not matter where you find yourself along the theological spectrum from fundamentalism on the right to extreme liberalism on the left. It does not matter whether or not you agree with me. Disdain for another’s view and absolute certainty of one’s own rightness does not contribute to an environment where unity and harmony can flourish.
We must not use the Bible as a weapon to subdue and defeat those with whom we differ. When our theological interpretation and cultural application of “biblical truth” yields hostility, division, and emotional pain, it is time to reconsider both the character and purpose of our sacred text as well as our motives and techniques in using it.
You may hold your convictions with passion and consider other views flawed and inadequate. Still, and for the sake of the kingdom, have the good grace to acknowledge that there are people who value the Bible every bit as much as you do who have come to a different conclusion about what the text means. It’s the courteous—not to mention Christian—thing to do.