[Question 1 of 2]
How come you don’t cite bible verses? I could easily believe you’re a farse
You’re absolutely right. I could easily believe I’m false too.
So here’s what we do. Don’t trust me, because I will let you down. Please don’t take anything I say at face value. Please don’t let me spoon-feed you. Please use heavy discernment in anything I’ve written, and that goes for every book and blog you read. Please disagree with me. Do not have a soft ear. Go seek in Scripture to make sure that everything I’m saying is lining up with God’s wisdom, like the Bereans did. Don’t trust any flashy, snarky, witty, articulate blogger with all the likes and reblogs (and especially not if they’re after your money).
Please go into deep reflection, meditation, and prayer by the guidance of God’s Spirit and His Word to arrive at your own conviction. Don’t be a jerk about those convictions. Double-check with wise mentors and your pastor and thousands of years of church history to see what they say. Check other interpretations and ask around. But don’t trust them completely either. Trust Him alone.
The thing is: Even if I referenced a billion Bible verses in everything I wrote, that doesn’t make me more truthful. Text-proofing has led to some horrible atrocities. Like Francis Chan said: “You can justify just about anything with this book …You’ll find some verse and twist it even though that’s not the natural reading of the Scriptures … We don’t really want to do what this book says. We want to use it to justify what we want.”
Let’s take this a step further.
A ton of Christian blogs say things like, “Jesus is rooting for you and cheering for you and he loves you and his mind is made up about you.” And I agree with this sentiment. I’ve written those things too. But there isn’t one time where Jesus actually says those words out loud. He was never that mushy. Most Christian bloggers skip all the hard stuff that Jesus said. It’s not wise to fool ourselves into think Jesus was a smiley therapist saying “You’re so treasured” all the time. Yet at the same time, the entire story arc of the Bible is woven into an approximation of the heart of God — and in fact, we find that God is actually rooting for us.
So while it’s not safe to to keep harping on this one angle, I believe that weaving thematic elements from the whole Bible is more biblical than stringing together a bunch of random verses. All the great theologians like Calvin, Spurgeon, Lewis, and Keller did the same thing — and they’re just human too.
We’re called to think for ourselves, to think through to the very bottom of what we believe, to get alone with Scripture in the purest way possible. At the same time: bloggers like me and all of church history can be an aid to your journey. We’re each biased to our own prejudices, so we need other voices. And if mine is not working for you, then by all means, I encourage you to pick it apart or criticize or unfollow — and there’s a way to be gracious about that too.
I’m sure you’re just looking out for me. You want to make sure I’m not just coming up with this stuff on my own. So I appreciate that. I will check myself on this. I graciously accept your challenge. Let’s be challenged together.
[Question 2 of 2]
I was thinking about your post about not believing everything a pastor or person with a microphone says concerning God’s word. Instead to measure it against God’s word. You know who’s words we can trust? Christ’s. Everything He said was/is true.
Right on. I think the hard part is in our many different interpretations of Scripture. Since we’re all just human beings with squishy three lb. brains, we’ll inevitably get some part of God’s Word wrong. As I’ve said, I’m sure we’ll all look back in Heaven and laugh at the ways we messed up the Bible.
But then there are just so many obvious things in Scripture that we can’t get wrong by reading them. Imagine in Heaven, “So by loving people and making disciples of all nations, you meant … oh. Just that.”
And I think in our celebrity-idolizing culture, we give so much more weight to famous pastors and authors, to an unhealthy degree. I’ve seen two pastors say the exact same thing in a sermon, but because one is more famous, everyone will go crazy over the big preacher and sort of gloss over the other one. I can almost guarantee that if someone posted a fake quote by Tim Keller or Francis Chan or C.S. Lewis (as opposed to a real quote by nameless local pastor), it would get way more hits just because of the name instead of the content.
I remember too when Rob Bell’s book Love Wins came out, and some Christian bookstores were inserting a piece of paper with a “warning” to have discernment. I wondered: Isn’t it wise to discern everything that we read and hear? Shouldn’t every single Christian book and sermon and CD come with that same warning?
I’ll leave with a few of the verses I quoted in the earlier post. Thank you again for your constant encouragement too!
“Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?”
– Isaiah 2:22
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
– 1 John 4:1
“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.”
– Psalm 19:7-8