Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Put away that Bible!"

In a recent discussion of the same-sex marriage controversy, the insufferable blowhard Bill O'Reilly attacked those Christians who approach the subject from a Biblical perspective.  Apparently believing that the matter should only be addressed on a purely political basis, the former host of Inside Edition said the following:

"The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals. That’s where the compelling argument is. 'We’re Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.' That’s a compelling argument. And to deny that, you’ve got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible." ("The O'Reilly Factor," Fox News, March 24, 2013, emphasis added.)

This, however, is not a post about the same-sex marriage issue.  Rather, it is a reflection on O'Reilly's attitude, shared by the vast majority of Western unbelievers and many professing "Christians:" i.e., absolute and unwavering contempt for the Bible, and those who attempt to follow its teachings: the "Bible thumpers" that the "conservative" O'Reilly so despises. 



(The very term "Bible-thumpers," or "Bible-thumping," is itself not only a perjorative, but a hopelessly overused cliché; and, as a professional communicator, O'Reilly should recognize it as such.  But looking for original thought on Fox News, or MSNBC, is like looking for a garden of tulips in the Sahara desert. Indeed, the combined output of these two "news channels" can be easily encapsulated: The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him? [Ecclesiastes 10:12-14].)

Unbelievers, and most nominal Christians, are, to coin a term, Bibliophobes.  Although they seldom admit it, they both hate the Bible, and are deathly afraid of it.  (In this, as in all other posts, we emphasize that the genuine, authoritative word of God is the Authorized King James Version of 1611; but the Bibliophobes shrink from any translation.) It's a shame they won't acknowledge this; it would make things so much simpler: if you're scared, say you're scared!

People tend to be very inconsistent when a preacher, or even a Christian they know socially or in the workplace, begins quoting the Bible.  (Of course, they expect it from preachers, from the pulpit; that's one reason they avoid church.) But outside the pulpit, even pastors or counselors are expected to keep the words of the Bible to themselves. "I don't want to hear what that old book says," people say, "just tell me what you think, or what you believe!"  But expecting a genuine Christian to avoid quoting the Bible is unrealistic and, again, inconsistent.  No one seeking legal advice says to the attorney, "Put away those law books!  They don't matter!  I just want your personal opinion!"  When consulting a doctor, one expects him or her to be well-versed in the medical texts and literature.  In fact, we're so dependent on written "authority," in our day to day lives, that most people can't even program a new DVD player for their television, or fix a computer problem, without wading through a confusing set of written instructions,  But not the Bible: that's to be shunned at all costs. As Jeremiah said, behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it (Jeremiah 6:10).


Among "religious" people, there's even a clever term for quoting the Bible, and it's not "Bible-thumping."  For example, if I say that a genuine Christian is someone who has received Christ according to John 1:12, and been born again according to John 3: 3-7, some people will immediately say, "You're just 'proof-texting!' You're simply finding verses that support your position, and ignoring all the rest!  You're just using a proof-text!"  "Proof-texting" is alleged by many people to be a cheap and manipulative way of addressing any issue, a substitute for real scholarship (God help us) or "independent thought" (God help us again). Such people are a little like the ancient Israelites, who, from time to time, became rather "Bibliophobic" themselves: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy (2 Chronicles 36:16).

To use another rather mundane comparison, no one looks at his car's owners' manual for instruction on changing a flat tire, when the engine won't start: he looks for the section on ignition problems.  I suppose that's "proof-texting," too.

But has it ever occurred to you that non-Christians do the very same thing?  They use "proof texts" from the Bible to justify themselves, or to shut someone else up.  One simple example, which every Christian has heard ad nauseam, illustrates this perfectly. If I say that adultery or drunkenness or gossip are wrong, someone will invariably say, "Who are you to say?  The Bible says 'judge not!'"  That's one verse beloved even of Bibliophobes: "Don't tell me what's right! 'Judge not, that ye be not judged!'"  These people, it must be said, are really and truly "proof-texting."  I once had an angry, flagrant sexual deviant scream at me, "The Bible says 'judge not!'" Finally fed up with hearing this, I replied, "Thank you.  Where does the Bible say that?"  As he adjusted his brassiere, he answered with a smirk, "It's one of the Ten Commandments!"  Thank you, professor.  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts (Proverbs 21:2.)

Again: there's probably not a drunkard in the English-speaking world who doesn't know, and won't quote eagerly, the words "Drink a little wine for thy stomach's sake...."  That's proof-texting, too, and of the lowest order; not only does it misrepresent what they're doing (drinking for non-medicinal purposes), but they couldn't tell you where the verse appears if you put a Bible in their hand and asked them to show you. If they could, they'd know that they were misquoting the verse (1 Timothy 5:23).



The yammering of Bibliophobes is predictable, and sometimes even amusing, but God doesn't find it funny at all.  He was not compelled or required to give us His propositional, written revelation; He'd already revealed Himself in the Law, in nature, and in the Person of Jesus Christ.  But He went a step further, because He loved His fallen, rebellious creatures, and gave us a comprehensive (though not exhaustive) revelation that we can hold in our hands and read.  (It's comprehensive, because it contains all we need to know; it's not exhaustive, because it doesn't tell us everything God knows.) He is not pleased when people avoid or shun it - - - whether those people are unbelievers or believers.  


Jesus Christ said, And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day (John 12:47, 48).  In context, Jesus was speaking to Jewish Pharisees in the first century; but the spiritual application of His words, today, refers to the entire word of God, the Bible.  (Every verse has three applications: historical, doctrinal, and spiritual.)  Jesus actually went so far as to say, in this passage, that people who reject the word of God will be judged by that very same word.  That's an impossible standard to meet: which is why He died, so that we could be saved by receiving Him ... if we choose to do so.

There's a verse pertaining to this matter that is often misused, with the best of intentions, by many Christians: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children (Hosea 4:6). Many Christians merely quote the first part of the verse, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, implying that people are unsaved because they haven't heard the words of the Bible.  But that's not what the verse says.  (In the first place, 21st century Gentiles, even in the "Christian West," are not "God's people.") The verse actually says that people are destroyed for rejecting knowledge. That's a very different matter ... and it applies to the Bibliophobes who constantly refuse to hear God's words, from the Bible, or who claim that the Bible doesn't contain His words anyway.

That's no laughing matter .... and not something to be taken lightly.


2 comments:

  1. Amen. You preach it, I'll turn the pages! One day people will realize that they reject the Lord and His word, at their peril. May it not be after it's already too late for them.

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  2. So that's what it is called, "proof-texting". Thanks! I get that stuff all the time, but didn't realize the definition of it.

    If the Bible was nothing but a book of fairy tales, why would the world be so vehemently against it? ;)

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