I originally wrote these points for my blog post refuting tithing as a Biblical Commandment.
I have here decided to post them as a blog post in their own right as I believe that they are crucial, yet subtly undermined in many parts of the modern church.
These points are central truths, which I believe are generally accepted by Christians, which are fundamental to Bible teaching. If you can spot a mistake in any one these points, then please let me know. Please take your time to understand these foundations. Please read them over and over again. I believe that if these simple foundations were correctly understood and applied in the church, so much error would be avoided.
The Bible is the Word of God. OK, this is quite obvious. However, my refutation of, eg the principle of tithing comes from clearly examining the Bible. If the Bible is not after all the Word of God, or is not to be considered that way, then I have no basis for my argument.
The Word of God is an absolute. This means that the weight it carries or the validity of the teachings does not depend on who is teaching it. This is so, so important. It does not become more true because a renowned Pastor or leader or anyone, absolutely anyone is showing it in the Bible. It does not become less true because the person showing it from the Bible is not well known or is young or is uneducated. It is true because it is in the Bible. Period. In practice, this means that if someone “small”, like me, for instance, could demonstrate that the Bible says X about …whatever, then this is truth, because the Bible says so. Not because of me. Truth remains truth regardless of the authority of the person showing it from the Bible. The converse of this is also true. If the Bible does not say X, then we cannot use the authority of anyone, literally anyone, to overcome this. The question is ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS: does the Bible really say so?
OK, I guess it could legitimately be argued that a renowned pastor might have greater understanding of what the Bible means than an ordinary person “off the street”. This is true. I guess it could actually also be argued that the Bible is “more true” in the hands/mouth of a powerful person, like Elijah, or like the Apostle Paul because they have more power available in their lives to bring about the promises of the Bible. This is like saying that a scientific formula like “E=mc2” is “more true” in the hands of a nuclear scientist, than in my own hands, because they(unlike me) would know what to do with it, they would have more power to forcefully show the truth of that statement. OK, I concede that that is a valid point. However, just because someone is a scientist does not give them the authority to change that truth, does it, to say “I am a nuclear scientist, and I now declare to you that “E=mc3”? If such a scientist were able to prove their assertion, then the original formula would be discredited. If someone were able to change the Bible, then the whole thing would be discredited – and then why would anyone listen to it at all? This way, any Bible teacher that tried to do this would actually be undermining the authority on which their position as “Bible Teacher” is based.
The Bible should shape us, we do not shape the Bible. We do not define the Bible. We do not give meaning to the Bible. Rather, we submit to the teachings of the Bible. We throw away our own agendas to be corrected by the truth of the Bible. This is because the Bible is the Word of God. If God is speaking, and I would want to raise an alternative viewpoint, who should be the one to listen? Who should be the one throwing herself down to immediately submit herself to the other viewpoint? This is the attitude we should have to the Bible. This is the Word of God. It is not for us to twist to suit our own convenience or preferences. Rather, we should throw ourselves down in submission to its teachings, as we would do if God were physically present speaking to us.
Because of the above no teaching of the Bible needs to be considered in the light of anyone else’s teachings. You can of course look at what a Pastor or teacher has said. However, it is not mandatory. This is because the Bible is not supposed to be defined by someone else’s teachings, whoever that someone may be. (There is a difference between a definition and an explanation). Rather, every pastor’s teachings should be defined by the Bible. Any Bible teaching only has to be considered in the light of other parts of the Bible. I have put this here because someone might refer to a great Pastor or leader who said or says “X”. I do not know – I cannot possibly know what everyone might have said about any particular scripture. So I cannot address everyone’s viewpoint in this article. However, I can look at the Bible to see what the Bible on the whole says about …whatever to make sure that all my thinking on this subject is Biblically balanced. And as long as it is, I do not have to read anyone else, or consider anyone else’s opinion. If I do not understand it, or I’m not sure I understand it, then of course I am free to consult respected viewpoints. However, if I understand it, and I know that I understand it, then I don’t have to do this.
So that’s it! Can you think of any more? 😉