Mar 3rd, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 15 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we will be wrapping up our two-part series looking at The Bible and Christianity with regards to the definition of the word “authoritative.”
If you remember from the last episode, when you Google the word authoritative you end up with four definitions, the two that sum it up that we’re concerned with are:
(of a text) considered to be the best of its kind and unlikely to be improved upon.
proceeding from an official source and requiring compliance or obedience.
Most people would fall into two categories in response to this definition where the Bible and Christianity are concerned:
You believe this definition accurately describes the Bible and Christianity.
You believe that Christians believe statement number one.
In the last episode, we looked at the claim that the Bible is an authoritative text according to definition number one of the word authoritative. We found that the Bible doesn’t, according to the scriptures themselves, fit the definition of authoritative. In this episode, we’re going to look at that second definition of authoritative in relation to Christianity.
That definition was, “proceeding from an official source and requiring compliance or obedience.” Does Christianity proceed from an official source? If we’re talking about God as that source then, yes. Unfortunately, a less than insignificant portion of Christianity comes from the traditions of man or were just made up completely. And in some circles that claim Christianity as their religion, most of what they follow is tradition and made up by man. Given the difficulty, and the enormous scope, of pinning down every aspect of modern Christianity and what source each came from, we’re going to focus on Christianity requiring compliance or obedience.
There is this commonly held belief by Christians and non-Christians alike that Christianity envelopes every belief, command, and law in the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. However, this is not how this works. With regards to the Old Testament, this is the Holy text of basically another religion, one that is in a lot of ways foreign to the Christianity of the New Testament. I think we get this idea that since God doesn’t change and Christianity worships the same God as Judaism that we are held to every instance of mankind’s encounters with God recorded in the Bible. But, this is a fallacy. God may not change, but everything else has. Our relationship with God has changed, Jesus came as a man, died, and rose again, the Holy Spirit is available to all believers. The spiritual reality of today is very much different than when any of the events of the Old Testament occurred.
And while a fair amount of Christians would agree with that sentiment we still have large numbers of Christians claiming the Law as given to Moses is still very much a requirement today. However, Romans 7:4-6 reads, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the body of Christ so that you may belong to another. You belong to him who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions aroused through the law were working in us to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law.”
In the same vein Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Paul goes on to explain that if we take back up even one part of the Law then we are held to every part of the Law and have alienated ourselves from Christ and made Him of no benefit. The benefit there being salvation through faith in Christ. If it isn’t clear enough what Paul means by, “For freedom, Christ set us free,” then let’s look at 1 Corinthians 10:23, ““Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.”
In Christianity everything is permissible, but not everything is good for you. Nothing is off limits, but not everything builds you up. The problem of sin that has dominated the conversation in and around Christianity should have had less weight applied to it and been one of caution because of the ill effects of sin on your life. This message of Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 10:23 is one that he expressed earlier in this letter to the Corinthians, but added onto the ending with, “...but I will not be mastered by anything.” Paul is saying that sin or not, as Christians, you can do anything you want, but sin does have a way of dominating, creating slaves, and is a master you don’t want.
All of this sounds very much like it does not align with requiring compliance or obedience and therefore not authoritative. Don’t misunderstand me though, this freedom hinges on one hundred percent on you placing your faith in Christ. Which of course is the defining attribute of Christianity. To sum up, the Bible and Christianity are not inherently authoritative. In fact, just the opposite is true. Unfortunately though, both have been twisted and used in an authoritative manner to the unbeliever, to control the faithful, and to commit atrocities. None of this aligning with the teachings of Christ or the fathers of our faith whose writings were collected and included in the Bible.
Now, I feel like it would be irresponsible of me at this point not to address the seasoned Christians listening. While we have the freedom to do anything, if you’re going to embrace this freedom, Paul advises caution. 1 Corinthians 8:9 says, “But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.” We should be mindful of the struggles of others and where they are in their walk with the Lord. We find a concept we can borrow on for this in 1 Corinthians 9. While Paul is speaking directly of bringing others to Christ we can just as easily use the advice in dealing with other Christians.
Verses 19 - 23 read, “Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law-though I myself am not under the law-to win those under the law. To those who are without the law, like one without the law-though I am not without God's law but under the law of Christ-to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.”
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”