‘Keep it Sound Silas’

Do you believe everything the Bible says?

This is, of course, not only an unfair question but one filled with almost too many traps to number. The traps that lie in wait here for the unsuspecting respondent are based upon the assumption that we think we know what the Bible says, rather then what it actually does. Thus…

In the middle Ages it was obvious that the sun went around the earth. This was the clear and obvious teaching of the Bible and the church, so when Copernicus dared to suggest that the earth went around the sun, he was accused of teaching against the Bible and undermining the authority of the church. William Wilberforce encountered the same mindset when he fought against slavery, which is neither condemned nor spoken against in the whole of the Bible. His opponents claimed the Bible taught that slavery was fundamental to a well ordered and prosperous society.

When I open my Bible, I do so as an Evangelical. I come as someone who treasures the Bible as being the way I come to know who God is and what it means to live as a Christian. However, when I call myself an Evangelical I do so without any qualifier. Thus, I do not call myself a ‘Conservative Evangelical’ because this would then commit me to a whole system of thought that essentially tells me what the Bible says even before I open it.

This is why I bristle a bit around the whole language of being ‘sound’. This way of thinking, for lots of good reasons, seeks to somehow guarantee the reliability of what is going to be said. And however much I sympathise with this, above everything else I must be faithful to the Bible and what it itself says even, and perhaps especially, when it challenges the assumed and favoured readings.

Am I to keep it sound? The simple answer is no. Though we are to be faithful to the life and testimony of the church as it seeks to know the mind of Christ, we are to dare to be always open to hear afresh what our living and glorious Lord is saying to us.

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