Sunday, July 06, 2014

IS SAYING “the Bible says” BAD?: SCS No. 9

(This is part of a series of sermonettes started Sunday May 11, 2014.  It is the hope of the author that each Sunday morning the readers might find something within these few words which help them in some small way to take on the new week with a bit more energy and hope.)  
Christianity Today, the magazine, was founded in 1956 by Billy Graham.  I did not start reading it then, but I have read it for over fifty years.  It is now down to coming out in a print edition only ten times a year.  The last issue was a combined issue of July/August (they also combine the January/February issues).  They send stuff to my inbox, but getting email from them is not like the old days when you could not even get it read before another one showed up.  I guess I better get back to the subject of this blog entry.  The subject was brought up in an article in the last issue.    
The article says Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, says pastors should stop using the phrase ‘the Bible says’ and instead use the name of the person speaking because people don’t “have to believe Noah built an ark and put animals on it to get there…” if you use phrases like ‘Jesus says’ or ‘Paul says’ instead.  Stanley made his case for this in his 2012 book Deep & Wide.  
Will Willimon, professor of Christian ministry, Duke Divinity School replied to Andy Stanley with these words, “Personal experience is the only revelation many people trust these days. For Christians, however, there is no ‘Paul says’ apart from what Scripture says.”

Will Willimon was a bishop in the Methodist church before going to Duke University.  He has had years of experience.  Andy Stanley worked beside his famous dad, Charles Stanley at First Baptist, Atlanta, Georgia before going out on his own and starting a church which is now bigger than the one he left.  My point is both men are well qualified to speak on the issues of being a pastor.

This is not really an issue just for pastors.  This is an issue for all of us. I think what Will Willimon says points that out.  It may be more appealing to some people if you don’t remind them in a sermon that there is the God of the Old Testament to deal with and all the stories of the Old Testament to go along with that angry destructive just God. However, Jesus never stopped quoting the Old Testament and neither did Paul.  I guess we have to take the whole thing or leave the whole thing.

You can take a scissors to your Bible and cut out what you don’t like, but it will not change one bit of the truth found in the pages of it.  You can say it in the sweetest terms you know and sugar coat all the parts you think will offend the tender ears of those you are trying to get into your pews, but by doing so you may be closing the doors of heaven right in their faces.        

The Bible is the Bible.  Knowing what it says. Saying what it says. Doing what it says. That is the simple way to salvation and a safe way to keep your soul soothed.

© Ed Cooper, July 6, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee  
     All rights reserved  


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