What I Don’t Understand about the Bible

I recently had lunch with a good friend. Although we see one another at church frequently, rarely do we get to sit down together and actually talk. I imagine most of you can relate to that regarding someone.

As we discussed a variety of topics–marriage, work, finances, cars–we just naturally started talking about church and the various opinions people–even other Christians–have about the Bible.

I explained that my well-educated pastor father had been pretty liberal by our church’s standards, even though at one point years ago he had served for a while as its interim pastor. I hasten to add that of the number of people there who still speak to me lovingly of “Pastor Ben,” no one has ever complained to me about his theology. My parents believed strongly in the Baptist concept of “priesthood of the Believer”; every Christian  should be free to interpret the Bible in whatever way God leads.

So, for example, if I choose to go along with my parents’ beliefs that the seven days of Creation were seven periods of time rather than literal twenty-four hour days, I can do that without fear of criticism.

We also discussed things like the impossibility of ever having a completely accurate translation of the Bible, because that would necessitate an indisputably accurate translation of each word within both the current and the overall context. And we agreed that–although God inspired every word in the Bible–that doesn’t mean He dictated it to the person who wrote it down. If that had happened, why wouldn’t the whole Bible be written in one single, unmistakable style? The very fact that it had so many authors over such a long period of time and yet still tells one unified story goes far beyond amazing.

My friend told me about some of the Bible-related things he’s interested in researching, and I think that’s great. He’s a highly intelligent man, and he won’t chase a rabbit that scrambles away in the least from what the Bible clearly says.

But I couldn’t keep from thinking about a Friday night Bible study I used to attend. We went through whatever passage we were studying that night verse by verse, word by word, almost letter by letter. Our leader was very good, but the process was tedious. It was during those Friday nights that I reached a significant conclusion.

I don’t understand everything about the Bible and I never will. (Neither will anyone else.) But I believe it with all my heart. At the same time, I already understand how to live the Christian life God wants me to live. My failures as a Christian aren’t the result of my failure to understand more, but my failure to apply what I already understand to my daily life.

More power to those who feel called to study and to learn.

Me, I’ll just keep praying for God to help me become more loving and more self-sacrificing. And less critical and less sure of myself. If God wants me to understand a particular part of the Bible I’m currently fuzzy about, I believe He’ll lead me to it. And He’ll help me to see how understanding it will help me to live a more Christlike life.

What about you? Are you a Bible reader? Are you a Bible student? Do you think there’s such a thing as too much learning when it comes to the Bible? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Once Saved, Always Saved?

Christianity has a number of different denominations, all too many of which don’t act very lovingly towards those that disagree with them. Probably the thing that divides Christians most frequently has to do with the interpretation of Scripture. No matter how true I believe the Bible is in its entirety, I’m the first to admit that the Bible contains many things I cannot hope to understand with certainty.

And one of those is a doctrine known to those who believe in it as “once saved, always saved.” In layman’s terms, that means that once a person becomes a Christian–confesses his sins, asks God’s forgiveness, and places his life under the lordship of Jesus Christ–he or she has an irrevocable ticket to Heaven.

At its most extreme, I would assume that someone who became a Christian at an early age and later chose to become a devout Muslim would still be counted a Christian at death. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?

I have a cousin who grew up in a fine Christian home and undoubtedly became a Christian when he was younger. I forget the name of the group he now follows, but it’s one of those religions that rejects Christianity’s claim to be the only way. Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

That’s pretty specific, don’t you think?

But how can my cousin still be counted a Christian at the time of his death? Again, it doesn’t make sense.

People who believe in “once saved, always saved” tend to put a disclaimer on the idea. Anyone who TRULY becomes a Christian–not someone who simply goes through the motions–is permanently saved. And, yes, that makes sense.

But it still doesn’t answer the question about the Christian-turned-Muslim or the cousin-turned-whatever.

I think about this often because I pray regularly for my cousin as if he is not a Christian. But then I start thinking about some well-known folks who seemingly became very devout Christians, but whose faith I know nothing about now.

One case in point is Eric Clapton. I loved his song, “The Presence of the Lord.” And the song he wrote after the death of his son, “Tears in Heaven,” still has Christian references. But did he abandon his relationship with God during that time? And if he did, would he still be considered a Christian?

I honestly don’t know.

Another case in point is Bob Dylan. You younger readers may not be as familiar with him, but he was the voice of his generation back during the 1960s and 1970s. And he became such a strong Christian that he not only recorded three Christian albums, he quit singing his old secular songs in concert for a while, which greatly displeased the non-Christians in the crowd. To the best of my knowledge, he’s gone back to secular music, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But does he still have that saving relationship with God through faith in Jesus?

I wish I could tell you.  But I don’t know the answer to that, either.

I’m going to sum this whole question up in the way that seems most satisfactory. God knows the hearts of everyone. And He’s the one who’ll make the proper determination when the time comes. The perfect determination, because God Himself is perfect.

How thankful I am not to have His job!

Do you have an opinion about the “once saved, always saved” doctrine or about any of the questions I’ve raised? Please share a comment if you do.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger