It’s Not Cool To Cherry Pick Scripture
March 28, 2013
With Easter approaching and the Astroturf groundswell for same-sex marriage at its apex, I thought I’d put in a plug for the Bible, whose integrity and timeless principles are under increasing assault in our culture.
In fact, what sparked this column was a warning by a nationally prominent Republican to his party that it ought not go “Old Testament” and oppose same-sex marriage.
I don’t want to turn this column into a rant about same-sex marriage, but I cite this example to illustrate a common tendency to bifurcate the Old Testament and the New Testament and to paint Jesus Christ as a figure of unqualified, open-armed tolerance and non-judgmentalism.
The more one studies the Bible with an open heart and a receptive mind the more he realizes it is a fully integrated and divinely inspired work.
First, let’s dispense with the myth that one’s belief in or rejection of the Bible is a matter of intelligence, as opposed to his worldview, heart and attitude. There are millions of brilliant believers throughout the world.
Let’s also recognize that Christian “faith” does not require us to suspend our rational faculties or ignore evidence. To the contrary, our faith is based on an abundance of credible, compelling evidence. Yes, faith is absolutely indispensible to Christianity, but it is wholly compatible with our God-given critical capacities.
People decry and ridicule the Bible as full of superstition, bigotry and incredible supernaturalism, yet eagerly embrace their own superstitions that often require more faith to believe than biblical truths. Their God-void entices them to spiritualize and idolize environmentalism, full-blown Darwinism, astrology, pagan mysticism and any number of other politically correct beliefs, while scoffing at biblical Christianity.
The same type of person who will sit enraptured by stories of Nostradamus allegedly prophesying about (Adolf) “Hister” seems unaware of or unreceptive to far more impressive detailed prophesy in the Old Testament that has been fulfilled in history.
Others don’t reject the Bible in toto, but cherry pick scripture out of innocence or for purposes of political expedience. Especially prevalent are efforts to ridicule the Old Testament, as with the above-cited example, and to recast Jesus as one who was open to all ideas and who rejected the supposed harshness of the Old Testament.
Unlike certain cultural icons today, Jesus didn’t preach what people’s itching ears wanted to hear. He didn’t cater his sermons to curry favor with the popular culture. He articulated a higher standard of morality than even the Old Testament did.
More importantly, He did not reject but wholeheartedly endorsed the Old Testament generally and specifically. He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He said that “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” “the scriptures cannot be broken,” and, “I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
Jesus also affirmed the historicity of many important events recorded in the Old Testament, which many today dismiss as mere allegory or pure fiction, such as the creation of Adam and Eve, the flood, Jonah and the whale, the miracles of Elijah, and the miracles of Moses in the wilderness.
His sinless life and His teachings, crucifixion and resurrection didn’t render the Old Testament irrelevant but affirmed it as pointing to Him.
New Testament writers also affirmed the authority of the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul said, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Both Old Testament and New Testament writers asserted they were speaking on God’s behalf and that what they were recording was factually and historically true.
Moses said his writings were from God, and the Old Testament prophets claimed to be speaking the words of the Lord.
Luke said, “Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
Paul said, “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”
It’s bad enough that some people are caving to cultural pressure to dismantle traditional values, but could we please not throw the Bible overboard in this frantic stampede to be loved by the culture?