(publish date ??)
A few years ago, someone started a rumor that there would be a worldwide shortage of toilet paper. Before long, people were buying rolls by the carton and stockpiling it in their basements, just in case the rumor was true.
Those involved in the industry may have been amused or dismayed by this all-out rush on their product; however, they were close enough to the supply to realize there was no danger of a shortage. The rumor simply wasn’t true.
I wonder if that is how other notions, even some widely-held ideas, are spawned. Do they start with rumors from people who are not close enough to the situation to really know for sure if what they say is true? Are they then perpetuated by human fears or other emotions?
For instance, some decades ago, a few people grabbed on to the idea that the Word of God no longer has authority over our lives. These people kept saying we are free to be our own boss, do whatever we want, forget God and the Bible. This notion permeated a culture that once took the Bible seriously. Even though we still make oaths with one hand on our heart and the other on the Bible, for the most part, it gathers dust.
This rumor was further fueled by slogans such as: “God is dead” or “the Bible is outdated” or “it was written by men therefore must be full of errors.” Unfortunately, people seldom checked any of it for themselves. Instead, their Bibles now occupy a bottom drawer or a dusty top shelf.
These notions have also infected the church. Some who call themselves Christian do not believe God’s Book is fully authoritative. For instance, consider the following statistics from the Barna group’s latest findings, published in April of this year. Among Christian men (possibly meaning “Evangelical Christian men”): 28% believe that Jesus was not physically raised from the dead, 27% believe that He committed sins, and 55% believe that everyone will have the same outcome after death, regardless of their beliefs.
Of course the Bible affirms otherwise. It says Jesus was “like us in every way except that He was without sin.” It also affirms that He rose from the dead in a body. It goes on to say that if He didn’t, the Christian faith is totally useless; all who believe it will “die in their sins.”
The Bible also warns about the options regarding eternal destiny. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth: a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. . . all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
Oddly enough, the same survey showed that 47% still believe that there are absolute moral truths. Another 40% believe that the Bible and religion should be the main influences on moral thinking. In other words, the Bible apparently does have value, but not authority?
How then, if God’s Book is not believed in its entirety, is it possible to use it as an anchor for morality? What do we do when our self-focused natures eventually come to a place of resistance to what God says? Is it not His authority that we revolt against, even when we know what He says is true and right?
Mere mental assent to this Book may acknowledge it is God’s book or that it says things that are good for us. Faith is trusting in the One who wrote it and submitting to His authority over us. We already know we are not able to live as we ought. We need help. Faith is turning from our own way and our own efforts and giving ourselves to the care and leading of our Creator. It is yielding to and following Christ, fully dismissing that old rumor that He has no right to our allegiance.