I had some very interesting responses to my “I’m Curious” question last Wednesday: “What Does the Term ‘Not Biblical’ Mean To You?” (click here to join the fun)
But one overarching sentiment cast its wide net over most every answer: Negativity.
Diane says, “I’ve most often heard it used to cast doubt upon a course of action or opinion just expressed by another…Bottom line: CONTROL – it introduces generalized doubt, rather than addressing the specific scriptural concern in context with careful consideration of the other’s situation.”
Todd says, “…even the term “scriptural support” gets contentious. I am sometimes amazed at what folks say is or is not Biblical.”
Warrioress chimes in that, “It’s a criticism of whatever one has opined. And usually it’s narrow-minded in its insistence as being more knowledgeable about what the bible says and how to interpret it.”
Criticism. Contention. Casting doubt. Even amongst our fellow believers many Christian viewpoints are seen as controlling, narrow-minded, or adversarial. Why?
Could it be a misguided attempt at teaching? Shepherding? Discipling? Could it simply be a bald-faced attempt at control? Manipulation? A power trip?
Well…yes. And, neither. And, both.
Personally, I choose to hold the belief that the people in question are honestly trying to be helpful. Oh sure, there are those few that are out for the power trip of superiority; the exclusivity of ‘greater’ knowledge. But that’s a minority. A few. Granted, a vocal few. But few nonetheless.
Many Christians, too, have the best of intentions when setting boundaries around their scriptural content and intentions: If not for others, than certainly for themselves.
And I don’t mean that in a critical sense. Many of us are earnestly trying to find our own footing in the foundational truths of our religion. Our “questioning cup” may simply be too full to allow anyone else to cast doubt on one of our few, cherished certainties.
So we react. Negatively.
As I’ve slowly matured in my own walk, I’ve begun to realize, first, that scripture—indeed faith itself—is not as cut-and-dried as I initially thought. Very few things “religious” are! It’s fluid. Ever changing. Filling in holes in one area. Emptying out of another. But still, constantly present.
The second thing I’ve begun to realize is…that’s okay!
For example, here’s a simple, and simply complicated question: Just because something is not in the Bible, does that mean it is not biblical?
I’ll let you ponder that for a moment….
You see, my gut tells me no, though someone else’s may tell them yes. And the weird thing is, we’d both be right.
I think my friend UnkleE makes a great point, “…the term doesn’t account well for the Holy Spirit, who can give us new understanding and application of NT truths.”
He goes on to provide a great litmus test of questions we need to ask as we consider what is being said through the truths of Biblical scripture: What is the Spirit saying to the churches? (Corporate discernment); What is the Spirit saying to me? (Individual responsibility); How do we view what the Spirit is saying through the lens of our current culture? (Relevancy).
The point of our faith is not negativity: Not towards ourselves—self-criticism and condemnation; Not towards our community—judgmentalism and blame; Not towards our fellow believers—one-upsmanship, censure, and flippant disregard of another’s walk.
That in itself should be painfully obvious, yet is too often, oddly elusive.
And if that’s how you use Biblical truths…you’re doing it wrong.
And that’s not being negative. I love you all too much to be flippant. (Well, in this case, at least.)
If you don’t know if that’s how you use Biblical truths, ask someone. If they love you–truly love you and value you as a fellow believer– they’ll tell you.
And yet there’s always the keen insight of my friend Nate who says, “Good luck finding two people who can agree on whether or not a particular issue is actually ‘biblical’ or not.”
Well, yeah, there’s that…