Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reactions to the RELEVANT magazine article, "What Does 'Biblical' Really Mean?"

In the article mentioned in the title of this post [found HERE], the author, Rachel Held Evans, seeks to explore the question, "What does it mean to say something is 'biblical'?" While there may be much to be commended in this article, I have at least two major concerns, one concerning what the Bible IS and one concerning how we should read the Bible:

1. In emphasizing that the Bible is "a collection of ancient texts, written by multiple authors and in multiple genres, spanning thousands of years and countless cultural contexts," Evans may miss the parallel truth that the Bible is also a single work with a single divine author, "For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet 1:21 ESV), and, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16 NIV). For this reason Evans should not be so quick to scoff at the idea that Scripture provides "a single, uniform prescription for how to live." Because God is eternal and unchangeable (Jas 1:17), being a man after God's own heart is not a radically different thing in King David's time than in our own day.

2. Evans fails to differentiate between kinds of texts and between differences in how texts apply in the New Covenant era. Evans writes, "technically speaking, it is biblical for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, biblical for her to be forced to marry her rapist, biblical for her to remain silent in church, biblical for her to cover her head in prayer and biblical for her to be one of many wives." This is the kind of sentence commonly found in atheist literature, in which someone seeks to show that the basis of the Christian faith is nonsense through randomly picking texts without any kind of hermeneutic sensibility (in other words, Evans is, in this sentence, doing the very thing that she claims to be writing against). The solution is not simply to "pick and choose" other verses (as she seems to suggest), leaving those she mentions above on the cutting room floor, but to:

a. Take verses seriously in their context, paying careful attention to what kind of literature is being discussed, and what is actually said (as well as what is NOT said) in the verses. For example:

i. Polygamy in a narrative text cannot properly be taken as any kind of prescription, especially when God establishes monogamy in the opening (pre-fall) chapters of the Bible, and expressly forbids the multiplying of wives on the part of kings (Deut 17:17), later commands monogamy for elders in the church (Titus 1:6), and inspires Paul to declare that marriage as originally instituted is a mystery pointing to Christ's relationship to the Church (Eph 5:31-32) [both the original institution and the fact that the Church is One-- Christ is no polygamist!-- point to the fact the monogamy is the "biblical" standard for the Christian, regardless of "biblical" characters acting contrary to this standard];

ii. The Bible does NOT say that a woman who is raped is forced to marry her rapist. A careful reading of the relevant text (Deut 22:28-29) shows that the responsibility is placed upon the man who forced himself on a girl that is not pledged to marry, that (in a society in which a girl may face stigma in such a situation) the man must make sure that the girl is taken care of for her entire life, under the pain of his own death; there is no requirement in the text that she accept the conditions.

b. Take into account the radical difference brought about by the New Covenant. Once Christ accomplished His great high priestly work, bringing about the New Covenant era (as described in Hebrews, and other places in the New Testament), a person cannot just throw out several examples based on civil and ceremonial laws in the Old Testament, and then say, 'Well, because we don't keep these, we can't know with any degree of certainty which things are biblically prescribed.' There is an abiding, unchanging moral law, reflective of God's character, and prescriptive for the follower of Christ. We have not been left without a sure guide.

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Blogger Kinuko H said...

Thank you for your insightful article!

2:38 AM  

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