Those who have followed my blog for a while—and I’m very thankful for your regular readership, with several thousand page views per month—probably have a very good view of the purpose of our ministry. But for those who are new or recent readers, I would just like to restate something I have said in various ways throughout the years.
For all of us, it is natural that there is a difference between w
hat the Bible actually says, and what we want the Bible to say—as you can see in the first Venn diagram to the right. Virtually every Christian who has ever joined the faith comes into it with a particular Christian culture influencing their viewpoint—they are Catholic or Methodist or Baptist, they are European or African or Asian, they are rich or middle class or poor, they are grandparents or parents or teenagers. In every case, they have a cultural way of viewing the world, and they will receive (as new believers) a culture imparted to them by their local church. Both of these will greatly influence their reading of Scripture.
The result is that almost every Christian (or at least, every Protestant) will say, “I only care about what the Bible says, not traditions of men.” But in reality, there is often a wide gulf between what God’s word actually teaches and what they believe. The reality is that for most Christians—even those who love the Bible!—the majority of their theology is actually imparted to them by their culture (country, race, church, etc.) rather than an open-minded reading of Scripture. Even when presented with good Biblical evidence that one of their beliefs are wrong, they reject the teaching of the Scripture as “not feeling right”—that is, the Biblical evidence may be strong, but it does not fit within their cultural understanding and therefore they reject the record of Scripture without even realizing that they do it!
Now of course, some topics are definitely difficult and no easy Scriptural answer is available—things like the age of the earth/interpretation of Genesis, the understanding of apocalyptic prophesy, etc. But the majority of things about which Christians argue are not of this nature. They are either topics about which the Bible is actually very clear (e.g., drinking in moderation is okay, drunkenness is not; sex outside of marriage is always wrong, no matter what), or it is a situation in which context is misunderstood (such as the common misunderstanding of Rom 8:28 or of the Acts 2 church).
This leads to the purpose of this blog—to close the gap between what the Bible actually says and what people want the Bible to say (see second diagram).
A key portion of this, of course, is to present what the Bible actually says. I try very hard to do so free from denominational or cultural influence—a task made easier by the fact that I am theologically self-taught, attend a non-denominational Bible church with brilliant seminarian teaching, and that I have a varied background (in which I have attended Catholic, fundamentalist, Southern Baptist, Methodist, Missionary Baptist, and Presbyterian churches). A lot of other blogs and writers attempt to do the same, and I by no means do it the best.
But more importantly than this is that I must try to write in such a way that I overcome the natural cultural tendencies of people: that I point out their biases in a friendly, helpful way so that they can overcome them and actually want to move these two circles closer together. In other words, I must make the truth accessible. I do think that this is one of the strengths of this blog, and why I continue to write. (It also is one of the most consistently-positive feedbacks I receive on my new book.)
So for those of you who are relatively recent followers, this is the reason that I write the way that I do. I will share some hard truths with you (including one tomorrow which will be very difficult for some of you to accept!). But I do so with a desire to break you out of the traditional modes of thinking which your culture has taught you, so that you can accept the Scripture as it was meant to be accepted.