Holy Scripture sets
forth everything that is necessary for our salvation. Consequently, nobody
should be required to believe as an article of the Christian faith, or to
regard as necessary for salvation, anything that is not found in Scripture or
that cannot be proved from Scripture…
Therefore, Scripture is to be our highest authority, not
tradition, experience or reason.
“Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) is probably the most misquoted verse in the Bible. This verse is being quoted many times by those who are for same-sex partnerships. The typical comment on Facebook is: “Who are you to judge? After all didn’t Jesus say, Judge not lest ye be judged.” The assumption is that Jesus says we should never condemn another’s lifestyle as we are in no position to judge or evaluate.
To cheer you up (he said tongue-in-cheek), I thought I would tell you the original ending of the Snow White fairy tale. As you know, the new Queen, who is the wicked stepmother, is jealous of snow white’s beauty and orders a huntsman to take Snow White into the deepest woods to be killed. As proof that Snow White is dead, the Queen demands that he return with her lungs and liver. The huntsman takes Snow White into the forest. After raising his knife, he finds himself unable to kill her and leaves her behind alive, convinced that the girl would be eaten by some wild animal. He instead brings the Queen the lungs and liver of a young boar, which is prepared by the cook and eaten by the Queen. Snow White survives, is taken care of by dwarfs and ends up engaged to a prince. The newly engaged couple invite every queen and king to come to the wedding party, including Snow White’s stepmother. At the wedding, to her horror, the stepmother is forced to put on red-hot iron-shoes and dance until she drops to the floor, dead. That’s not quite the ending that Walt Disney gave us.*
William Tyndale grew up in England in the 1500’s. Back then ordinary people did not own Bibles; they had to go to church to hear what the Bible had to say. The church, at the time, believed that only the Pope and priests were educated enough to understand and interpret the Bible. But there was a problem, the only version of the Bible tolerated in England was Jerome’s Latin translation which dated back to the 4th century and most of the priests could not understand Latin.
William Tyndale felt that God was calling him to translate the Bible into English so that all people, ordinary people, could read it for themselves. God had given William a gift for languages and graduating from Oxford University he had mastered seven languages including Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible. However, translating the Bible was against the law.
I was listening to SMILE FM this week and Riaan Swiegelaar, a psychic medium, was on air. He offers “advice on challenges in different areas of your life and can connect with loved ones that have passed on”. You phone in, tell him your birth date and he lets you know what direction to take.
On Thursday night he was saying that it is crucial that you give your child the right name that can release the inner energy your child has. Wrongly naming your child can have disastrous effects. Imagine that! A parent could spend their entire life worrying that they gave their child the wrong name.
We are, everyday, surrounded with false teachings, wrong opinions and erroneous information.
Most church-goers know the Old Testament stories that they were taught in Sunday School, but many don’t understand or are unaware of the significance of these accounts for the church today. Some Christians have gone to the extreme of rejecting the Old Testament (OT) because of its “Jewishness” and exclusively focus on the “Christian” New Testament. Others may theologically subscribe to the OT as authoritative Scripture, but in reality never preach from or hear sermons from the OT.
A danger that evangelicals trained in Biblical Theology face is that we are tempted downplay the ethical teaching value of the OT accounts in their own terms, in favour of a more progressive revelatory/ typological approach that always finds the only meaning of an OT passage as it is fulfilled in Christ.
Paul demonstrates to us in 1 Corinthians that reading the OT typologically with its fulfilment in Christ and reading the OT more in its own terms looking for moral/ ethical/ behavioural lessons are both equally valid ways of reading scripture.
Last weekend my wife and I went shopping and we noticed a new children’s game called, “Fortune Telling Fun”. The makers of the game probably think it’s just a bit of fun, but it’s really not. The Bible prohibits all unauthorised or illegitimate communication with the supernatural, spiritual world; whether through fortune tellers, the occult or modern-day mediums because of the tremendous danger involved. Little attention is paid to the Bible’s warnings today. In African Traditional Religion many visit the witchdoctor or sangoma who communicates with the spirits and ancestors. Many people today claim to receive messages from the spirit world and angels, then write books about it. Even some Christians claim to receive “words” from God which they in turn relate to other unsuspecting believers. All throughout history people have sought to communicate with the spirit-world in order to receive guidance, help and advice.
I’m sure you have many friends who claim to be very spiritual, who love connecting with “God”, enjoy “feeling” his universal love, and even go on “spiritual” retreats and meditations. God is viewed as the life-giving force we all need to connect to, he is the Universe that empowers all life. These friends just love “God”. But when you ask them about the Bible, they think it’s irrelevant, patriarchal, just opinions or even hateful. The Bible is definitely not authoritative, respected or even listened to.