There was a time in our country when everyone accepted the Bible as the inerrant word of God. Doctrinal disagreements could be settled by simply supplying passages that supported or contradicted a particular teaching. Nearly all people (whether their lives reflected it or not) refused to question the simple teachings found without Scripture.
That much has changed drastically in America. I’m not simply referring to the increasing number of Atheists/Agnostics, I’m talking about within organized “Christianity.” Prominent Methodist scholar, Dr. Gregory Neal once said:
“While Methodists certainly affirm that God had an essential role in the writing of the Bible, we do the Scriptures an injustice when we fail to recognize that they are a collection of Divinely inspired, and yet still utterly human, reflections upon the human encounter with god, as well as human reflections and opinions upon what we, as a people of faith, should be doing in response to God’s offer of a relationship of grace and peace in Jesus Christ.”
Sadly Dr. Neal’s view of inspiration is actually the predominant view of most “pastors” today in every denomination today. Even within the Lord’s church, people are starting to view the Bible more along the lines of “wise sayings” or “divine suggestions.” This humanistic, subjective view of the Bible is not a new problem at all. In fact, the first century Christians dealt with a very similar attitude. It’s this false view of Scripture that prompts the prophet Jude to write his stern warning to the early church:
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” (Jude 3)
“The Faith” here refers not to our personal faith in God, but the entire body of doctrine that makes up the Christian religion. The Christian faith was “once for all” handed down to us, and so there’s never going to be a “new” teaching that people need to know about in order to grow closer to God. Our job as Christians is not to sit idly by as people try to categorize clear Bible teachings as “Paul’s opinion” or “culturally out-dated.” If we want to remain true to the grace of God, it’s every Christian’s responsibility to “contend” (literally “fight hard”) to maintain the purity of Christian doctrine. Our only guide in this life is what we read in the Bible, we must be diligent to protect and preserve it’s holy, God-given nature. The alternative is bleak indeed. If we allow people in/outside the church to ignore or twist God’s original teachings we too will find ourselves “denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
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