The Church over…

The Church over the years has used the Bible to defend issues that now at this point in history are deeply embarrassing. For example;
• The earth is flat.
• The earth is the center of the universe.
• Black people are cursed by God.
• Slavery is biblical and ordained of God.
• Annihilation of Native Americans was the will of God.
• Apartheid/segregation is biblical.
• The church should not get involved in social issues.
• Etc. etc. etc.

It is, of course, a grief and deep embarrassment that the Church has on more than one occasion found itself on the wrong side of history and the Bible. That is a given. It has often had to repent; sometimes of its arrogance, sometimes of its naivete.

More than one person now though is asking: “What positions are we now staunchly defending TODAY as ‘biblical’ will 50 years from now (or even five years from now!) be an embarrassment to the cause of Christ?”

It will not do to say that the Church inevitably drifts towards liberalism when its positions change, unless we are willing to argue that a flat earth, slavery and geo-centrism were biblical moorings that we have forsaken. On the contrary, the Church became more biblical when its views changed. To be a follower of Jesus, in fact, is to be committed to change. Its called progressive sanctification.

Listen, this is not a call for the Church to abandon everything.

It IS a call, however, in light of our track record in history, for followers of Jesus to be just a little more tentative, a little more humble and a little more informed when speaking for God and when articulating “what the Bible says.” Please.

History is clear. ‘Defending the faith’ does not mean that we need to die on every theological and historical hill. In fact, if/when we do it may very well not be a sign of faithfulness to the truth but an emotional commitment to a particular theological stance.

Jeff Cook, Providence Center for Urban Leadership Development

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