“This is my Bible…I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, and I can do what it says I can do.” If you are still with me after reading these lines, you are probably either at least contemplating moving on to another post that is worth reading or you are waiting with bared teeth for me to turn the tables and rant on the theological vapidity of the popularizer of this creed. The reason you have reacted this way, if you are even remotely aware of the current climate of evangelicalism, is that you have grown to associate these words with emptiness. These words have become almost inextricably tied to a man known for lifting his Bible high and declaring its absolute authority one minute, only to turn around the next and lay it on the lectern for its pages to be rustled no more…at least until next week’s chant.
In the following, I can promise neither a blog post worth reading nor a seething rant on prosperity theology. But what I do hope to show is the way in which you and I as Southern Baptists are much closer to that Lakewood lectern than any of us would care to admit, both in word and in deed. For all of the sloganeering surrounding and flowing from the Conservative Resurgence (CR) in the Southern Baptist Convention, the result is that Southern Baptists are not, in the end, as much a “people of the book” as we might think. Of course, by listening to our rhetoric, we absolutely are. While we may not (for fear of negative association) stand up and proclaim the above cited creed, we regularly (and rightly) articulate ones just like it regarding our firm convictions on the “inerrant”, “infallible”, and “authoritative” word of God that our SBC forebears fought so hard to defend. The question we must answer, though, as we follow on the heels of these warriors is- will such rhetoric ring hollow for us? Will we as Southern Baptists in the 21st century be found equally guilty of hauling our “inspired” Bibles into pulpits, counseling offices, and board rooms, touting their sufficiency, only to turn around and “lay them on the lectern” in favor of practical tips, pop psychology, and trendy new tactics? I would suggest this is a very real danger that exists for our generation in at least three major areas.
The heart-cry of the CR was “Back To The Bible.” CR leaders rightly touted the Bible as the inspired word of God and the authoritative means by which God has revealed Himself to His people, but at some point in the journey, these phrases morphed into little more than clichéd slogans. Now, many of the same preachers who get red-faced and hyper-perspirant defending the “authority of the Bible,” are the ones who fill their ministries with endless treatments of the epistles and never find their way into Leviticus, Judges, or the Minor Prophets, except for (maybe) an occasional anecdote or illustration. After all, “aren’t we New Testament believers?” they’ll say. Now, many of the same preachers who, as young men, watched the CR unfold before their eyes and whose very ministries exist as direct beneficiaries of the CR, are turning around and saying things like, “Well, of course all Scripture is equally inspired, but I’m just not convinced that all Scripture is equally profitable” (cue “creative” and “hip” collection of quasi-biblical material strung together into a “helpful” and “inspirational” “talk” or “message”.)
Is this what our SBC forebears fought for? Is this the hill on which they deemed it worthy to die? So that their sons and grandsons could wave around a Bible and call it “inerrant” while (practically) denying its power? I somehow doubt it. As many have rightly observed- the Battle For The Bible did not begin in the 20th century and it will not be won until the kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ. In the meantime, however, we as inheritors of this faith must champion the Word in our pulpits. That means we can call our preaching “expository” all we want, but unless we are standing up week in and out actually “exposing” the text and its meaning, we will continue to create biblically anemic congregations with insatiable appetites for “lists” and “principles”, but not for Jesus. That means we can no longer begin sermon preparation in search of “preachable” points likely to garner “hoorahs” and “amens,” but must instead begin with the sacred text, which might not win us much approval or praise, but has been promised not to return void (Is 55:11).
In light of this post by Nick Moore, B21 thought it would be helpful to show a video of the Kimyal people receiving the New Testament for the first time… and to see their hunger for the Word
Part 2 will cover Word-Centered Counseling and Mission…