By Jack Wilkie
Far too many Christians try to “ride the fence” in today’s world. They get caught between clear biblical teaching and what culture pressures them to believe and so they attempt to strike some sort of compromise. It’s time for true Christians to challenge those who are riding on the fence and ask them the question Elijah once asked Israel as they strayed from God – how long will you hesitate between two opinions?
One of the central beliefs of Christianity is that the Bible is God’s inspired word and that it is authoritative in all matters of the church and our individual lives. It’s not a complicated concept. The last of the Bible books was completed just over 1900 years ago, and once the Bible was finished there was nothing more to be added. It does not need our revising or rewriting, and yet that’s exactly what so many who claim to be Christians often do. Consider a few examples.
A coalition of denominational leaders including well-known authors and speakers such as John Piper, Albert Mohler, and R.C. Sproul recently released a document called “The Nashville Statement” to affirm the Bible’s teachings about sex, marriage, and gender. While the world did we would expect of them and bristled at the Bible-based beliefs the statement backed, what was most unfortunate is how many people who claim the name “Christian” loudly expressed their opposition.
Just read the #NashvilleStatement Perfect example of ignoring the hearts and lives of real people so you can adhere to an idea or doctrine
— Nadia Bolz-Weber (@Sarcasticluther) August 29, 2017
The fruit of the “Nashville Statement” is suffering, rejection, shame, and despair. The timing is callous beyond words.
— JenHatmaker (@JenHatmaker) August 29, 2017
Desperate to align themselves as a more loving brand of Christian, those who rejected The Nashville Statement trampled all over holy Scripture. They’ve picked the parts of the Bible that they like and that don’t get them in any trouble with the outside world. But, as Augustine wrote, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”
To reject some of God’s authority is to reject all of it. Nobody would say that a parent has his or her child under control if the child only obeys when they want. By the same logic, nobody would say that the church is under God’s authority if we can ignore Him when what He wants is inconvenient for us.
Of course, it’s not just with cultural morality that this is an issue. There are plenty of churches in this world that practice the same flippancy toward the Bible, deciding when they want to accept its commands and when it would be better for “business” to water it down. For example, the Sinner’s Prayer continues to be pushed by churches all over the world despite the fact that there’s not a single Scripture that references the idea. Other congregations are rejecting the Bible’s gender roles to instead conform to cultural pressure. Still others show no concern for God’s stated desires for worship.
However, it’s not just on a doctrinal or congregational level that these compromises can happen. It’s up to each of us to make sure we’re walking according to all of what God wants from us and not just following what is convenient or making excuses for the difficult commands we don’t want to follow (2 Corinthians 13:5, Philippians 2:12). For example, if you claim to be a Christian, gather with the church multiple times a week, read the Bible daily, and yet still treat people in an unchristian manner, you’re cutting what you don’t like out of the Bible and keeping what you do like. Or, if we fail to do the good works that God expects of us like helping the poor and sharing the Gospel, we are no better than a church that denies the sin of homosexuality.
Either we accept the entire Bible, or we accept none of it. We are to follow the parts that are easy and the parts that are difficult, the parts that are popular and the parts that the world hates, the parts that we like and the parts that we may not. God will not be pleased with anyone who follows the majority of His commandments yet decides that they are too smart, loving, or culturally relevant to accept the rest. There is no room for fence-sitting when it comes to the Bible’s authority.