Heb 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
2Ti 3:16-17 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Today, I am going to be tackiling one of the elements that make someone to be evangelical regardless of their denomination. It is called biblicism, and it is one of the elements in David Bebbington’s Evangelical Quadrilateral. To review, the Evangelical Quadrilateral are the following:
Conversionism: an emphasis on the importance of personal conversion. Biblicism: a high regard for the Bible and its unique authority in conveying spiritual truth. Crucicentrism: an emphasis on the centrality of the atoning work of Christ. Activism: a conviction that the Gospel should be lived out in visible and socially transformative actions. (Rauser, Randal. What’s So Confusing About Grace? (Kindle Locations 2867-2874). 2 Cup Press. Kindle Edition.)
Most Evangelicals hold what is taught in the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God. This tradition comes from the Protestant Reformation from which Martin Luther called “Sola Scriptura”. At the time that Luther was living, most of Western Europe was Roman Catholic where God’s authority was shared between the Holy Roman Catholic Church (Canon Law) and the Bible. In protest, Luther radically stated that the only authority or intermidiary between him and God, was God’s Word. Most Evangelicals believe that the bible is both inerrant and infallible meaning that the words contained in the bible do not change (infallible), and are of the highest authority for one’s life. Leading Christian Ethicist, David Gushee writes:
This is sometimes called evangelical biblicism. With variations, most evangelicals still believe that the (Protestant) Bible is divinely inspired, the truthful and authoritative Word of God to humans, and the only sure guide for Christian faith and pracice. Most evangelicals have been deeply shaped by a sometimes productive, sometimes destructive biblical populism in which it is believed that any literate, reasonably devout Christian can read an English translation of the Bible and receive a clear understanding of God’s Word and will.
Sometimes evangelicals go even further in demonstrating their biblicist credentials, as when they declare that the Bible is the source of all truth. This grand declaration might sound particularly pious and high-minded, but it is simply bad theology. After all, in the absolute sense, God is the source of all truth. (Rauser, Randal. (Kindle Locations 2991-2994)
What about Biblical Interpretation?
There two schools of biblical interpretation. One school is called the Grammatical-Historical Interpretive School, and the other is called the plenary interpretive school. Both schools view the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Yet, one school takes God’s Word contained in the bible as authoritative, and the other school does not.
According to Mongerism website, they define the Grammatical-Historical Method as:
According to Luther’s new hermeneutic, which was actually just the recovered hermeneutic of the earliest Church Fathers, each bible passage had one basic meaning, which was firmly rooted in historical truth, and related accurately according to the common principles of human language. Thus, it was “historical,” relating real, interconnected historical events, that must be acknowledged and understood before the various teachings of the bible could make sense or have application; and “grammatical,” using language the way any normal person would. This grammatical-historical hermeneutic is absolutely vital, for it tethers the truth of the scriptures to real, historical events, that have a real impact on our life; and it gives us a way to study the scriptures with confidence, according to well-established dictates of human language. Basically it means that the bible needs to be interpreted towards its original intent (historical) with the use of plain language (grammatical). Before a person can apply scripture to their life, they would have to have a general understanding of the original author’s audience, intent, rooted in common language to be understood by it’s intended audience. They also believe since scripture is the living Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit, that scripture interprets scripture. Biblical helps such as commentaries, concordances, and other tools are helpful when it comes to this type of interpretation of the Bible.
The other method used by Evangelicals is the Plenary interpretation of Scripture. This view also believes that the Word of God contained in Scripture was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet this view takes in human limitations such as culture and history into account, but puts emphasis on God himself. What is important is the meaning of what is said in the bible not the words themselves.
According to Wayne Grudem, Biblical Inerrancy is defined as:
The doctrine of inerrancy means that the Bible is entirely truthful and reliable in all that it affirms in its original manuscripts. Another way of saying this is that the Bible does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. Because God is the ultimate author of the Bible, and because God is always perfectly truthful, it follows that his Word is completely truthful as well: He is the “God who never lies” (Titus 1: 2). It would be contrary to his character to affirm anything false. God is all-knowing, always truthful and good, and all-powerful, so he always knows and tells the truth and is able to communicate and preserve his Word. “O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant” (2 Sam. 7: 28). “Every word of God proves true” (Prov. 30: 5; cf. Ps. 12: 6; 119: 42; John 17: 17).
Crossway Bibles. ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 335079-335088). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Why is Biblicism Important?
Over the centuries, Christians have used the Bible to discriminate against women, different races, defend slavery, anti-semiticism, and other debatable topics because of their plain reading of scripture.
In addition, one most hotly debated topic within the church today is what it means to be married. Most Fundamentalists and Evangelicals believe that marriage is defined as one man one woman. No person can marry someone of the same-sex. Many Christians who consider themselves LGBQT, or gay-affirming would disagree with this interpretation of scripture and feel that they cannot belong to a good evangelical church because of their belief contained in the scriptures against anytype of marriage that would challenge the traditional biblical standard of one man one woman marriages. The question is not if the texts contained in the Bible are valid, but the interpretation of the text. Sexual identity was a non-issue to someone living in the first century, yet is a crucial issue to us today.
Many young people are leaving the church today because most of them have a friend who considers themselves LGBQT or they themselves identify with that issue. 1 in 20 Americans would identify with this lifestyle, and many young people cannot affirm a church that their parents or grand-parents went to if they reject people that are not LGBQT affirming. Many young people see Jesus affirming those that are sexual minorities if he was living today. Young people who were raised in Christian Conservative homes that identify with LGBQT are more vulnerable to suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and STD’s according to Dr. Gushee (Changing Our Mind, Kindle location 2057).
What Gushee calls for especially dealing with the clobber verses on human sexuality is the following:
We must engage the destructively-cited biblical texts in the ways done by reformers of Christian anti-Judaism since the 1960s— which involves fresh research on the background and meaning of the texts, broader contextualization of the circumstances in which they were written, and constructive reinterpretation in the Spirit of Christ. Many important recent works are doing this.
Gushee, David P.. Changing Our Mind: Definitive 3rd Edition of the Landmark Call for Inclusion of LGBTQ Christians with Response to Critics (Kindle Locations 2086-2088). Read the Spirit Books. Kindle Edition.