On Biblical Literacy

Perhaps you have heard about this week’s controversial release of the Nashville Statement by a conservative evangelical council made up largely of Baptist thinkers and theologians. When it comes to the scriptural basis of the statement, there really should be no controversy: the Nashville Statement affirms both the Bible and millennia of Judeo-Christian teachings about human sexuality. But many professing Christians, some prominent on the blogosphere, decried the statement in largely emotional responses. Whether we agree or disagree with the timing, intent or other things in this or any other theological statement, positions for or against in these kinds of discussions must be rooted in Scripture. Unfortunately, that appears to not be taking place on the scale it should.

How did we get here? We certainly don’t wake up one day and find the professing church split down the middle on a doctrinal issue that, while not as critical as belief in the divinity, personhood and substitutionary atonement of Christ, is still important. What happens is there is illiteracy and/or compromise in an area of Scripture, or an openness that maybe the Bible doesn’t really say what it plainly says, and eventually almost without realizing it we end up sacrificing something that falls under Christian orthodoxy in the name of a more socially acceptable opinion. While there is room for difference of opinion on secondary issues not relating to salvation, anything that violates God’s design and misrepresents the picture of Christ and the church does not fall under that umbrella.

This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to be biblically literate. There are many applications of Scripture and there we have liberty of a difference of opinion, but there is only one correct interpretation. If we fail to understand the meaning of a text, we run the risk of falling into significant theological error and, potentially, eventually abandoning the faith to which we were called.

It’s easy to let emotion rule our minds and think with our hearts rather than search the Bible for what it has to say on a given issue, be it one of great significance or one where there is room to disagree and not risk falling into error. But we must view our life and experiences through the lens of Scripture, and not the other way around. This week, my encouragement for you is to commit to the studying the Bible, for in it alone are the words of life for us to apply both to ourselves and to our conversations with those with whom we cross paths.

David Bashore

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