The major debates raging in Christian circles these days all actually distil down to one big issue: how we interpret the Bible.
Many people treat the Bible as a combination of scientific textbook and heavenly constitution. If we believe this, then we can use verses and phrases to prove key points of differentiation and detail. We still have to explain away any competing statements or interpretations, but our approach is to look to the Bible for proof in the sense that modern day scientists, jurors or lawmakers would understand. The extreme view – which is completely untenable, but is still the idealised view of many conservative Christians – is that all of the Bible is “literally” true.
Liberals might find themselves on the opposite extreme claiming that the Bible contains little more than myths, legends and poems, and that it can really mean anything we want it to.
But maybe there are other ways to look at the Bible, that find a middle way between these two extremes.
This is the conversation that has taken hold in our time.
Brian McLaren recently created the following list of up-to-date resources for those who want to pursue this journey. I certainly do, and have found these very helpful:
- Steve Chalke’s “Restoring Confidence in the Bible” project
- Rob Bell’s series about the Bible
- Tony Bartlett on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
- My Problem with the Bible, by Brian Zahnd
- On this blog, Rachel Held Evans on “The Bible was clear”
- Biologos’ new project called “Author of Life” that shows how science and Christianity/the Bible synchronise.
- Brian McLaren’s new book, “We Make the Road by Walking” which will launch in June 2014. Details here; UK Kindle version here.
Watch Steve Chalke’s video here:
Restoring Confidence in the Bible from Oasis UK on Vimeo.
Join in. This will define the future of Christianty for the next few centuries.
2 thoughts on “It’s all about the Bible – and it’s important!”
Graeme, I downloaded the Steve Chalke articles so that I could read them this morning. May I ask you (and all) a question please?
Page #4 “Restoring confidence in the Bible”, Steve list some names of people who apparently were “inspired [to action] by the words of the Bible”
In that list of worthies Steve includes “Nelson Mandela”. On what basis is he part of that list?
To the best of my reading Mandela was a statesman and a politician, and a communist.
The Methodist church of SA (of which I am a member) ‘lay claim’ to Mandela, but it was a claim based more upon his isiXhosa roots than any Jesus activity.
In spite of that I intend to use Steve’s “eight key principles” [a new exegesis approach?] in our group next week.
Bill, I am no expert on Mandela’s history, but I know that Mandela went to a Methodist school and was given the name “Nelson” by his Methodist teacher. He self-acknowledged as a Methodist as a young man, and remained connected to the church. After his death, when President Zuma wanted to publicly pray for Mandela, he chose Bryanston Methodist as the place to do so out of respect for this heritage.
As to being a Communist, he absolutely was not. The ANC was/is in alliance with the Communist Party, but Mandela was not a Communist himself. That, in itself, would not have precluded him from being a Christian anyway.
Was Mandela a Christian? Only God knows. Did Mandela act in ways that were in line with God’s Kingdom. I personally think there’s no doubt he did.