Archive for December, 2010

Making 2011 the Year of the Bible… By Taking the Bible Seriously!

The King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version, has not only been one of the most unifying forces in Christendom, it’s inarguably the most influential work of all time. First published in 1611, it was first commissioned to replaced the Geneva Bible (largely because of anti-Catholic commentary prevalent in the margins of the Reformer’s Bible) in 1604 by King James I.  Seven years after it was commissioned, the completed work was presented to James I by 47 of the top Bible scholars of that time.

On the eve of the 400th anniversary of the most influential best-seller of all time, a recent poll reports that 51% of those under age 35 have no idea what the King James Bible is, compared to 28% over 55.

That’s just sad. To say that this world is becoming more and more Biblically illiterate with each generation is something of a massive understatement, rather like saying that ‘possums are ugly or that elephants weigh more than geraniums. In fact, a spokesman for the King James Bible Trust, who commissioned the poll, commented:

“There has been a dramatic drop in knowledge in a generation. Yet this is a work which was far more influential than Shakespeare in the development and spread of English” (emphasis mine).

In a single generation…

How did we get to such a sad state of affairs? Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, likes to point out that USAmerica has more Christian resources (TV, radio, books products, DVDs, Bibles, Bible study aids, etc) than anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, he points out, that we now have more Christian resources than we’ve ever had. Then he asks that all-importnant question:

“Is America becoming more Christian or less Christian?”

Audiences never fail to respond with a resounding, “LESS Christian.” It’s simply that self-evident. 

Is the solution that we need more Christian resouces? Well, obviously not. Christian breath mints don’t appear to lead to either deeper levels of Christian commitment. Having a wide range of Bible versions available in English doesn’t appear to have increased the likelihood that we’ll pick one up and read it, much less memorize it, meditate upon it and, oh yes, live it! In fact, the current glut of buffet-style Bible versions seems to have had a detrimental effect of Bible memorization (How do we know we’re reciting it back correctly when each of us is comparing it to a different translation?) and its use in corporate worship. Honestly, when’s the last time someone read from the Bible in your church, not counting the sermon or special services (baptisms, baby/building dedications, holidays, etc). Prayer, music, Bible reading (often responsive readings, where someone read one verse and the congregation read the next one in unison), tithing and Biblical preaching were once the norms in our church services. Too often, contemporary praise and worship music is quite upbeat – even catchy – but doctrinally shallow and oftimes self-centered rather than truly Christ-centered.

The problem is that we’ve abandoned the authority of the Bible.

Oh, we think of the Bible as important.

Even misotheist Richard Dawkins, who infamously authored The God Delusion, knows “you can’t appreciate English literature unless… you are steeped to some extent in the King James Bible. People don’t know that proverbial phrases which make echoes in their minds come from this Bible. We are a Christian culture, we come from a Christian culture and not to know the King James Bible, is to be in some small way, barbarian.” Of course, he qualified his affirmation of the Bible’s significance with the bewilderingly illogical qualification that he believes “it is important that religion should not be allowed to hijack this cultural resource”.

So religion should not be allowed to “hijack” God’s revealed Word?!!? Someone needs to remind ol’ Dick Dawkins (undoubtedly one of ol’ Slewfoot’s pen names) that the Word of God belongs to the people of God. We had it first, so if anyone’s “hijacking” the Word of God, it’s those like Dawkins who which to denigrate it to a mere cultural resource or a historical heritage. Obviously, this line of thought reminds us of those who like to say they honor Jesus as a great moral teacher, but reject the “Christian claim” that Jesus was God. CS Lewis formulated the Trilemma in his apologetical masterwork Mere Christianity:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Lewis 43).

I digress. We’ve abandoned the Bible as our ultimate authority. In some ways, I suspect it’s been done to make Christianity somehow more palatable, more acceptable, less offensive, so that more people will accept the Gospel. Yet the Gospel itself is a stumbling block and foolishness as far as the world is concerned.

Jesus’ exclusive claim that He alone is the way to salvation is certainly offensive to many, especially when they suppose they’ve found a way that suits them just fine. Some claim that all paths lead to the same destination; the Bible agrees with that assessment, except it says that all paths lead to the Judgement Seat of Christ where each of us must give an account. The Bible warns that only those who have placed their faith in Christ have eternal life; only those who confess the Lord Jesus and believe in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead will be saved – eternal damnation (not a popular sermon topic these days, even though Jesus Himself preached on hell and judgment more than any other person in the Bible!) awaits all the rest. The wages [deserved earnings] of our sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. While God is willing that none should perish but that all should come to repentance, repentance is a personal choice. God doesn’t condemn us to hell, for we are condemned already, but rather gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life. There are people reading  this right now (most of it taken straight from the Bible) who are offended at the Gospel. Who wants to be called a sinner? (even if it’s true!) Who wants to be told they’ll go to hell if they don’t take up their cross and follow Christ? Is the Gospel offensive? Pretty much, but it’s also true. Our loved ones stand on the brink of destruction! This life is but a nanosecond on eternity’s clock in which to make the crucial decision of where you’ll spend the rest of eternity: heaven or hell. Knowing the judgment that is to come, we persude men; love itself constrains us to tell them the truth even if they don’t like us for it!

Some of you are reading this and realizing that, yes, we’ve modified the Gospel, tried to make it more palatable to a world at emnity with God. In that, we’ve abandoned the ultimate authority of the revealed Word of God. We’ve also abandoned it in Genesis and anywhere else it is found to be in conflict with the word of men and the cultural norms of our times!

When I think of Europe and the UK in particular, I think of Richard Dawkins and I wonder, “How did the same cradle give us Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Dick Dawkins?” The answer is self-evident. Even in Spurgeon’s day, Christianity was on the Down-grade. The Down-grade Controversy pretty much killed the Prince of Preachers. Churches everywhere were compromising God’s Word. Rather than address the rising tide of apostasy in the pews and pulpits of England, the Baptist Union censured Spurgeon as stirring up unnecessary conflict. Unity was more important to them than doctrinal integrity. Being unequally yoked with unbelievers so long as the unbelievers bothered to call themselves believers, they continued on the down-grade after Spurgeons death.

In the name of making the Gospel and Christendom more palatable to the world, European Christianity embraced every liberal agenda and immorality they could find; many tried to erase the offense from the Gospel by exchanging it for a lie that claimed that everyone would be saved and no one would go to hell, whether a Hitler or a Mother Teresa; and, of course, they compromised the plain meaning of Genesis, the genealogies and the 4th Commandment by saying you could believe in evolution and millions of years… [sigh. John 3:12 again]

And now Europe and the UK are a spiritual wasteland of Biblical illiterates. Yes, let’s follow the advice of the men who continue the down-grade to make the Gospel and Christianity more palatable to the world… and let’s follow the financial advice of men who never make money, the theatrical advice of men who can’t act, the artistic advice of men who can’t even manage a decent stick figure!

Or we could follow the command of a God who never fails, who promises that His Word will never return to Him void but will accomplish what He sent it for, and just take the Bible, the revealed Word of God, seriously enough to hold it as our ultimate authority no matter what men may say about it. Let God be true and every man a liar!

Let’s make 2011 the Year of the Bible by a renewed commitment to holding it as the ultimate authority in whatever it speaks, and let us not just be hearers of the Word, but doers also!
As we mentioned in our last post, Operation: Wittenberg is urging you to do three things in 2011:

[1] Post the Genesis Declaration and the first eleven chapters of Genesis to your church door the first Sunday of 2011 (January 2nd). Dedicate that very first worship service and the entire year of 2011 to the ultimate authority of God’s Word.

[2] Provide your congregation with solid teaching on Scripture and Biblical science by using our free 13-week Defending Genesis church bulletin inserts. Start using these inserts the very day you post the Genesis Declaration to your door!

[3] Celebrate a Creation Sunday this February 13, 2011 rather than atheist Dr Michael Zimmerman’s proposed Evolution Sunday!

Make 2011 a year dedicated to the ultimate authority of the Bible, God’s revealed Word.

-Rev Tony Breeden

On behalf of, & Operation: Wittenberg

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