‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’ 2 Tim 3:16
I have recently completed a critique of Brian McLarens latest book ‘A new kind of Christianity’ (See Articles section of this Blog) and my conclusion is that he is actually describing a new kind of Liberalism. His understanding of what he calls the Big Picture of scripture is very different to my understanding. Why is this? We clearly have different theological backgrounds and opinions, but a main reason for difference lies in our understanding of the nature and purpose of the Bible.
For Brian, the Bible is a cultural library, and by this he means a collection of books, letters, poetry, and so on, written within a particular historical and cultural setting by and for a particular group of people. He contends that from its pages we learn mainly how ancient people perceived God. He seems to believe that we should not be attempting to find unchanging truth statements in the Bible. Rather, we should be seeking to understand God and His ways, with reference to the Bible, but in the context of our current cultures and stages of development.
I accept that the Bible reflects much of how ancient people perceived God and truth. However, I also believe that God oversaw the process of producing the Bible, and that it carries His authority. I believe that we need to understand what it contains within the context of ancient times, but that it also contains authoritative truth statements. My approach to the Bible is essentially orthodox Evangelical, while Brian’s appears to be more postmodern Liberal.
The point is that his view of the Bible has yielded a radically different understanding of God’s plans and purposes to that of orthodox Evangelicalism. For him, the fall of humankind recorded in Genesis chapter three is a coming of age story rather than the account of the source of spiritual death. The theology that flows from these two understandings is very different. The cross of Calvary, the Second Coming of Jesus, Heaven and Hell, all have different meanings and implications.
So, the question is, ‘what is your understanding of the Bible?’ From this will flow your theology and your application of biblical truth to church and life.