(This article originally appeared in the March 17, 2012 issue of the Anderson Independent-Mail.)
The other night as I was passing through the Atlanta airport, I watched a few minutes of Piers Morgan’s interview with pastor Mark Driscoll, who has a new book on marriage and sexuality. (Those TVs at the ATL gates are all set on CNN, so it’s a bit of a captive audience.) Again and again, Morgan pressed the pastor on why he couldn’t affirm same-sex marriage, and when Driscoll insisted that his views were based on biblical teaching, Morgan said that perhaps it was time to adapt the Bible to today’s culture.
In that view Morgan is hardly alone today. Popular media regularly paints evangelical Christians as out of place in today’s culture based on their insistence on following the teachings of what secularists see as an antiquated religious document. Why can’t these Christians just accept the changing views of contemporary culture? Why do they insist on adhering to the views of a book that is over two thousand years old? How could that possibly be relevant to people in the 21st century?
The Bible is a book – actually a collection of 66 books, written over a period of some 1,500 years – but Christians recognize the Bible as much more than just a book. It is a divine-human document, in which God has inspired human authors through whom He has revealed His truth. It is a book which tells the grand story of humanity’s creation, fall, and redemption. And it contains God’s guidance for living a life that honors the Creator and that offers the amazing quality of life for which we were originally created.
In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read the phrase “All scripture is inspired by God.” The phrase that is translated “inspired” is literally the phrase “God breathed.” The way the church has typically understood biblical inspiration is that God has guided the human authors so that, by using their own individual personalities (and even their writing styles), He guided them in composing and recording His revelation to humanity in the words of the text.
Human culture changes over the years – the contemporary trends of one generation are the antiquated traditions of the next. Every culture thinks it is the pinnacle of human achievement – and the next generation wonders how their predecessors could have been so wrong. Styles, perspectives, attitudes change from one generation to the next, but the Bible continues to speak to each succeeding age and culture with God’s unchanging truth.
Volumes have been written about the Bible, and solid evidence is available for its historical truthfulness. Yet believers recognize that God did not give His Word to be a textbook of history or science, but as a love letter – a story of His love for each of us and His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. We stand on the teachings of scripture because we have found them to be the only real source of ultimate truth and life in a fallen world.
G.K. Chesterton was a British writer and intellectual of the 20th century who became a Christian. One day he was asked, “If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could only have one book, what would it be – a Bible?”
Chesterton said, “No, the book I’d choose would be A Guide to Building a Boat.” A pretty practical answer!
For most Christians, the Bible is A Guide to Building a Life. It is the manual provided by the designer. That’s why, long after today’s critics are long gone, the Bible will still be here, revealing God’s truth and leading people to forgiveness and fulfillment
Michael Duduit is founding Dean of the College of Christian Studies and the Clamp Divinity School at Anderson University. He also serves as Professor of Christian Ministry. He is the founder and still serves as Executive Editor of Preaching magazine, one of the nation’s premier publications for pastors. His email newsletter, Preaching Now, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences. He is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Joy in Ministry: Messages from Second Corinthians, Preaching with Power: Dynamic Insights from Twenty Top Communicators and Communicate With Power.