A disappointing conversation reminded me that some problems never fully go away.
I recently spoke to an older pastor. Now I love older pastors. They have some experience and wisdom from which I can benefit. And, they can make me feel young– a sensation that doesn’t happen as often as it once did!
But this conversation was not so edifying. It served more as a warning. In the course of our conversation he said that not all of the bible is God’s word. Some of it is, but some of it isn’t. Some of it, he felt, was just some cultural baggage that got added in and though the bible taught it as truth, it was, in fact, just part of the mistaken views of the days in which it was written.
As an example he mentioned wives submitting to their husbands. That, he believed, was not God’s word though it is clearly taught in scripture. Now, had he said that submission is commonly misunderstood, he would have gotten full agreement from me. Submission never means lesser value of a woman. And certainly it doesn’t in any way allow for the mistreatment of women. But that, unfortunately, was not his point. Because it does not match our popular sentiments, he believed it was not from God.
Here is one of the problems with this low view of scripture. Submission is not just applied to a wife and a husband. Believers are commanded to submit to each other. Is that not to be seen as God’s word? And, the same bible tells us to submit to the authority of the Lord. Do we remove that as well? And we are told to submit to earthly authorities. And lots of folks would like that to be scrubbed from scripture. But it is there nonetheless.
We still have to do the hard work of exegesis. We should follow sound principles of interpreting scripture. But a starting place for believers is that the bible is God’s word. As such, we are to follow God and his truth rather than our shifting cultural sands.
In Genesis 3, the serpent tempted Eve (and nearby Adam) with the words, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” The enemy continues to use that same tactic. He whispers the question in times of temptation or doubt, “Did God really say?”
I don’t yet fully understand everything in the bible. I may sometimes interpret poorly. I might be more influenced by my current culture than I realize. But I do know that God gave us his word and that I can trust it fully. It is true, it is dependable and it is trustworthy.
God really did say it.