June 21, 2005

A Bible-believing Church

You came to worship with us on Sunday. I don't know how you found us, since we were having our annual "Worship in the Park," but you did. You sang the songs with us, many of which were new even to us, having just learned them during Vacation Bible School the previous week. You listened to the sermon. We invited you to share in communion with us, and you accepted.

I'm glad you found us. You are always welcome here, and I hope we did our best to show it. You did say afterward that you found the service to be "delightful," that you enjoyed the songs, that you found the message meaningful. You mentioned where you were visiting from, and I excitedly told you that in just one month's time, I would be a visitor in your town.

Then you looked at the name of our church in the bulletin ("Fairview Community Christian Church"). You pointed to the word "Christian." You said, "So, I take it you are a Bible-believing church...."

I wasn't sure how to respond. I wasn't sure what you meant, or what implications were in your statement. So I hemmed and hawed a little, and you smiled a polite smile, and then we all enjoyed the after-worship picnic.

Are we a Bible-believing church? If by "Bible-believing," you mean that we take literally every single word of the Bible, then the answer is no. If you mean that we pledge our allegiance to the Bible, then the answer is no. If you mean that we unquestioningly follow what the Bible says, then the answer is no.

But if you mean that we take seriously (but not necessarily literally) the ideas and truths in scripture, then the answer is yes. If you mean that we use the Bible to direct our worship to God, who alone is worthy of our allegiance, then the answer is yes. If you mean that we enter into dialogue with scripture, questioning it and allowing it to question and challenge us, then the answer is yes.

The psalmist says that God's word "is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path." We do not stare at the light, because then we are blinded. We watch the path, and we use the lamp to help light our way.


PPB said...

Oy, I hear you. I never know how to answer that question.

the reverend mommy said...

Seriously, but not always literally. I answer with the wiggle words "The Bible is always the heart and center of our Christian faith." What is meant by "heart and center"? How much bigger is the entire corpus? What do they mean by "believe"?

Believe has so many meanings as well -- Do I have faith in the Bible? No, I have faith in God. Do I have faith in Christ? Yes, but also the Creator God and the Sustainer.

The next question would probably be on Authority of the Bible....