The Powerless Bible

power of god's word

Evangelicals love the Bible. They rarely read it or practice its teachings, but they do love it. They call themselves people of the book. Baptist churches use the line The Blood, The Book, The Blessed Hope to describe their beliefs.

Evangelicals believe the Bible is an inerrant, infallible book inspired (and preserved) supernaturally by God. Many Evangelicals think the Bible is also a science, archeology, and history textbook. Other Evangelicals think it is a sex manual, the blueprint for life, the keys to successful living. In their mind, the Bible is the end all. It contains everything a person needs to know about life.

The Bible is a #1 bestseller that most everyone in America owns but hasn’t read. Countless Evangelical Bibles gather dust on the coffee table, only to be brushed off come Sunday. Some Evangelicals store their Bible in the back window of their car, in the trunk, or under the front seat. This way they will know where it is when they pull into the church parking lot on Sunday.

The Evangelical theme song is:

The B-i-b-l-e

Yes, that’s the book for me

I stand alone on the Word of God

The B-i-b-l-e

BIBLE (Shouted real loud so God hears them)

reaction to god's word

Evangelicals, with their devotion, love, and worship of the Bible, assume that everyone else has the same devotion, love, and worship of the Bible.  They also assume that everyone accepts their presuppositions about the Bible; that the Bible is an inerrant, infallible book inspired supernaturally by God. They cannot fathom anyone viewing the Bible any other way. Sin, unbelief, liberalism, or apostasy are the causes for not believing as they do, or so say the Evangelicals.

One tactic Evangelicals use with non-believers, atheists and agnostics, is quoting the Bible. Since they believe the Bible has magical power, they think if they quote the Bible that it will have a powerful effect on the person they are quoting it to. A recent post by Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, illustrates this kind of thinking:

A new atheist billboard now appears along the interstate in Riverside, California. These billboards feature a beautiful sunrise over a mountain scene and say, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone,” and then give a web address. This board is just one version of many similar boards from other atheist organizations in different parts of the country. Rather than comment on these boards, I thought I would just let Scripture do the talking.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18–23)

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

This is the message that these atheists need to hear and believe!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16–18)

Ham has a Bible message for people like me:

  • I am a fool
  • I am ungodly
  • I am unrighteous
  • I suppress the truth
  • I am unthankful
  • I have a darkened heart

power of god's word 2

Ham’s solution for such a debauched life is for me to believe these words are true and repent of my sins and trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He thinks if he writes or says the magic words that somehow, some way, they will transform my life.

Here’s what Ham doesn’t understand. I don’t accept his presuppositions about the Bible. It is just a book, no different from any other book sitting on my bookshelves. It has no magical power. In fact, when I hear or read Evangelicals quoting the Bible, my ears often go deaf and eyes go dark. If anything, it cause medical problems.

If Evangelicals want to challenge my worldview and beliefs, they are going to have to come up with something better than the Bible. Saying “God says,” “thus saith the Lord,” “in Genesis 1:1 the Bible says,” etc., have no power over me. Such quoting is little more than a parlor trick used to amaze the ignorant and I am too old for such childish tricks.

Note

I am not saying the Bible has NO value. It does, and many people find the Bible to be a book of wisdom and spirituality. Such people are light years away from Evangelicals.

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12 Comments

  1. Timothy

    Doesn’t this “enangelical” view create an idol? For some protestants, such a high view creates a “paper pope” – sth that would enrage even the most lukewarm evangelical… just sayin’…
    Thanks for sharing. Peace, Tim

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I think it can and does, especially in sects where inerrancy and infallibility are elevated to pope-like status.

      Reply
  2. Matt Gunther

    Timothy,
    If I may, I would like to comment from an evangelical perspective. Bruce is right in saying that how a person views the Bible is based on presuppositions. As a Christian, I approach the Bible with the presuppositions that God exists and that the main way he has communicated himself to people is through the Bible. This makes the Bible a pretty important book because I see it as means to knowing God. It doesn’t exist on an even plain with God though. I realize though that the ‘problem’ is that the atheist doesn’t approach the Bible with the same presuppositions and so isn’t going to view the Bible in the same light. Unfortunately, as Bruce says, many Christians either don’t realize or don’t respect that this is the case and it often results in pretty unpleasant and ineffective interactions when the different perspectives meet.
    Hope you don’t mind me trying to represent an alternative view.
    Matt

    Reply
    1. Timothy

      I think in theory your answer is right, but in practice (I come from a lifetime of evangelicalism) idolatry is an appropriate word for the high view of the bible that is present there.

      Reply
      1. Matt Gunther

        Let me amend my comment and instead of trying to represent all evangelicals represent myself and my understanding because I think you are right and there are probably areas where you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting someone whose view of scripture approaches idolatry. I’ll say to John as well that my views are aligned more with Ken Ham and a more fundamental doctrinal perspective. I think though that how one practices their belief system especially in the company of those who hold to different belief systems is extremely important. I am pretty ashamed and disgusted reading some of the things that Bruce writes about how he is treated by other Christians. I’ve only been reading this blog for a couple of weeks but it has given me great cause for reflection. I have felt welcomed by this community to add my two cents from my perspective and I appreciate it and I wish that I could say with confidence that the atheist viewpoint would be welcome in conversation of Christians but I can’t. What I can do though and what I am trying to do is to represent Jesus as well as I can according to my understanding of the Bible.
        Incidentally, I haven’t read Karl Barth so can’t comment on where I fall in relation to his views.
        Matt

        Reply
    2. John Arthur

      Hi Matt,

      (1). How does your view differ from those Progressive Christians who presuppose that God exists and the main vehicle for God’s communication is through the bible, yet are poles apart from most evangelicals?

      (2). What kind of evangelical are you? e.g. would you regard Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics as evangelical? If so, this would put you at odds with Ken Ham and the Fundamentalists and many (possibly most) Conservative Evangelicals.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  3. Michael Mock

    Hey, Matt! Glad to see you’re still around. Personally, the Bible makes more sense to me not as God’s communication to man, but the other way around — as a record of man’s attempts to communicate with and understand God. Among other things, if you look at it that way, the passages that would appear contradictory if the Bible were a set of instructions from God become simply part of a dialogue between differing views of human beings trying to understand something ineffable — a natural and inevitable difference based on limited perceptions and incomplete understandings.

    That’s not the atheist view, of course; but since it’s mine, it’s an atheist view.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      That’s my view too, not any different than my blog. The essence of my writing is my attempt to understand and explain my life and the world I (we) live in.

      Reply
  4. Michael Mock

    Also, Ken Ham: “This is the message that these atheists need to hear and believe!”

    Um… dude, you do realize that what you just said pretty much directly contradicts the idea that God has already completely revealed Himself to unbelievers, right?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I suspect Ham was just trying to act like a tough gunslinger by shooting some atheists with his Bible revolver and John 3:16 bullets.

      Reply
  5. Dale

    I’ve heard the bible referred to as “God’s love letter to mankind”, I think by Max Lucado. Yep, when I think of smashing the children of my enemies against rocks, I feel all warm and fuzzy.

    Reply
  6. Ian

    This is exactly what I have run up against when people try talk to me. They try to use scriptures to prove their point of view and I tell them that I don’t accept that authority. The bewilderment in their faces is almost heartbreaking. The few people who have tried to re-convert me are genuinely nice people, but they have nothing new to say and are using a document I don’t believe in.

    If a Muslim were trying to convert an evangelical, the Muslim would use the Koran and Hadith to persuade the evangelical. The evangelical would not recognize that authority and the discusson would be futile. This is the same problem the evangelical runs into when trying to convert an atheist, or someone with a different faith.

    Reply

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