Back in the late 1980s, I did a lot of street preaching in places such as Newark, Zanesville, and Lancaster, Ohio. One day, while I was preaching on the courthouse sidewalk in Newark, two Mormon missionaries came up to me and wanted to talk. I said, fine, as long as we limit our discussion to the King James Bible. They told me they couldn’t do that because the King James Bible AND The Book of Mormon were both authoritative. Because I was unwilling to accept their assertion that The Book of Mormon was authoritative, there was no point in them trying to talk to me. These missionaries presupposed that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and the King James Bible were both God’s word. Unless I was willing to accept their presuppositions, no meaningful discussion could take place. So it is with Evangelicals who demand that I accept the Christian Bible as authoritative.
Over the years, numerous Evangelicals have come to this blog and tried to use THE BIBLE SAYS argument to show me the error of my way. Bruce, it says _________________ right here in John, Romans, Acts, James, Revelation, Genesis, or Jude. They assume (presuppose) that I accept the Bible as authoritative; that I accept the Bible as the standard for truth. I don’t, and neither do many (most) of the people who read this blog. These defenders of the Holy Evangelical Faith® fail to understand that I have studied the history of the Bible and the claims it makes and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bible is not an authoritative book; that it is not in any way a supernatural or divine text. At best, it is a collection of books written by unknown authors trying to explain their understanding of the world. If Evangelicals understood this rather than asserting that the Bible is an inerrant, inspired, infallible book, we might be able to have a meaningful discussion. Instead, they pull the Bible out of the bookcase and demand that it be treated as THE book above all books. They demand the Bible be accepted as THE truth above all truth. I reject this assertion and do not think the Bible is any way superior to any other literary work.
No matter how loud someone says THE BIBLE SAYS it carries no weight with me. Why should I grant the Bible the authority Evangelicals claim for it? Well, because THE BIBLE SAYS! Exactly. This is circular reasoning and the reason it’s impossible to have a thoughtful, rational conversation with an Evangelical.
THE BIBLE SAYS lots of things modern Christians no longer believe. No Evangelical is really 100% THE BIBLE SAYS. I don’t know of an Evangelical pastor, evangelist, missionary, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or pew warmer who believes and practices every word of the inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God. All Evangelicals develop their own system of interpretation, and with this system inconvenient or difficult verses are explained away or reinterpreted. What Evangelicals really consider authoritative is their own personal interpretation and opinion. This is why I think there’s no such thing as the faith which was once delivered to the saints or one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, One God. Two thousand years removed from the death of Jesus, what we have is not Christianity in the singular sense, but Christianities, with every Evangelical having his or her own understanding of Christianity and the teachings of the Bible.