Karl Barth, the 20th-century Swiss Reformed theologian is often quoted as saying that one should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.
Actually, he never said it exactly that way. “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both, Barth advised, “But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
Certainly it’s valid to look at current events from a Biblical perspective. If our world view is framed by the media, pop culture, liberal theology and secularism that seeks to separate faith from daily living, we will be in trouble spiritually.
When Jesus commissioned the apostles to preach the gospel throughout the world, He affirmed that He was “given all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18). To assure their writing was accurate, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide them into all Truth (John 16:13). So, Paul would confirm that the things he wrote were “the commandments of the Lord.” Likewise, Peter said that we’ve been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3).
However, preachers, pastors, and all Christian teachers must be careful not to misinterpret what the Bible says and misapply it to our current culture. Sadly, some people in past generations engaged in racial discrimination contending their view was Biblical. It was not.
Others claiming divine intervention by God have engaged in hateful demonstrations and even murder in the name of religion. Such religion is not Bible-based. And clearly misguided.
As a result, secular progressives have seized on some of these erroneous ideas by professed Christians to call the Bible a “hate book.” A recent example was reported by Fox News last night that New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has come under fire for working with Focus on the Family.
Apparently, Brees made a video to promote “Bring Your Bible To School Today” for the faith-based organization that been soundly criticized in some circles.
“The Super Bowl champion, promoting the Oct. 3 event sponsored by Focus on the Family, is urging students to “live out” their faith, sharing one of his favorite verses, 2 Corinthians 5:7, which says “for we live by faith, not by sight.,” reported Caleb Parke in an online edition.
Former teammate, Benjamin Watson responded to the backlash, “It’s a shame in this country right now if you adhere to certain biblical beliefs, that we all have a right to choose what religions were adhere to, you’re labeled as ‘anti.’ What Focus on the Family does is upholds marriage, which family is the basic building block of society. They uphold those things and they’re labeled anti by other people. And there’s an agenda there and that’s what really upset me about the whole thing.”
Because Focus on the Family teaches traditional marriage they are identified as a hate group. And, of course, citing what the apostle Paul wrote on the issue of marriage and sexual purity, is outdated, old fashioned, and in a word, “hateful.” Social progressives often site Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor” as the license for every illicit relationship imaginable.
One must take the entirety of God’s Word as Truth. Not just one verse stripped from its context and original meaning.
With the political race for the Presidency heating up and the 2020 election just a year away, no doubt the Bible will be quoted by folks on both sides of the aisle. Views pro and con on social and moral issues will be advocated as God’s will by conservatives and liberals alike. Let’s be careful not to improperly and inaccurately cite Scripture to justify our position.
Although the Bible was written to a generation and culture far removed from modern-day life, it’s principles and precepts are real and relevant to our 21st-century world of ethics, morals and daily living.
In the words of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God’s word, but testify to it. Trust the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman