Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Bible is More Helpful than Newsweek

Journalistic integrity is taking a beating this year. Newsweek is the latest casualty:

Our Mutual Joy

Please note my issue with this cover story is not the defense of homosexual marriage. I have said before I don’t presume to know the most loving, biblical (and political) answer to this complicated topic, but I will continue to ask God for grace and wisdom as our culture is faced with it. My issue here is with the irreverent and ridiculous use of the Bible to say what the Bible does not clearly say. If an article was written defending something using the Bible that I agreed with (for example, golf and IU basketball as spiritual disciplines) but which I know the Bible was never intended to defend, I would be equally heartbroken. Speaking politically for equal rights in the case of homosexual marriage is one thing; defending that political stance using the Bible in obvious error is quite another. The article is not saying defend gay marriage because it’s the right thing to do; it’s saying defend it because the Bible says so.

If you by chance agree with this article in Newsweek, my challenge to you would be to really read your Bible in its context, and pray through it as you read, and ask God to reveal whether His Word truly defends these thoughts, or whether this article is simply another example of the most important Word in the universe being taken out of context to seem to say whatever the reader wants it to. Getting the Bible right is very important. This blog exists for that very purpose, if nothing else. That some would be less serious about this is heartbreaking to me.

Here is some very thoughtful and refreshing response to this article:

Turning the Bible on its Head

Looking for a 'Serious' Conversation

More than 'Mutual Joy'

Hey Newsweek: It's the Journalism, Stupid

Seriously, a journalist should no more be giving the biblical interpretation of anything than a pastor should be writing a feature article on a politician or celebrity. But if the journalist has the opportunity, the least you would wish for is a balanced analysis. This effort has opened this particular journalist (and her publication) up to embarrassment and, to be frank, legitimate doubts about intellectual integrity. Believe it or not, the Bible is an important part of society and at the very least deserves disciplined and educated interpretation. This article is a mockery of that. Freedom of speech allows for such absurdity. Thankfully, it also allows for checks on this absurdity, and in this case, the integrity of the Bible, and the arguments of thoughtful people, is at stake.

The question of whether the bible is authoritative, inerrant, and true, is mostly a separate issue. This article is bad even if the Bible is only a helpful and respected guide, but not inerrant. Of course, I believe it is more than that, and here are some resources that defend that belief better than me:

The Erosion of Biblical Inerrancy

The Authority of Scripture

Can’t we speak and live what the Bible says, and as we approach complicated issues such as gay marriage, hold up the truth in His word, not compromise commands and institutions that Almighty God established for a specific purpose to glorify His name, and also love those who would disagree? This article is not most fundamentally a defense of equal rights. It is an example of the lackadaisical view of Scripture and prideful posture towards the most holy being in the universe that our culture tends to allow without much of a second thought.

My approach is still to love people and speak the truth. Compromising either will be catastrophic. Practicing both will seem complicated, but is not impossible, and God in his sovereignty will be faithful to his promises, and work it all together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, as revealed to us in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is precious not only because it is true, but also because it is helpful. Those who would suppress it still need to hear it, and still need to understand what it means, because it can be helpful for their lives. We don’t have to compromise culture to be relevant and faithful in our proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. And we cannot compromise the Gospel merely to be acceptable in our culture.

Without the whole Bible, we have nothing to guide us even where to begin in this effort. With the whole Bible, we have everything we need for life and growth in godliness. If the Bible was one less chapter than it is, it would be hopelessly confusing and absolutely useless. But it is not. If you read it, you’ll see it makes a whole lot of sense and is full of soul-satisfying, people-loving, God-exalting truths. As Albert Mohler concluded in his article, “Newsweek could have offered its readers a careful and balanced review of the crucial issues related to this question. It chose another path -- and published this cover story. The magazine's readers and this controversial issue deserved better.” Indeed.

Oh, and then there's this:

Who throws a shoe? Honestly.

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