Is It Ridiculous?
The Ridiculous Emphasis Christians Place on the Bible. This was the title of an article recently posted on the Church Leaders website, written by Brian Jones, a pastor. 1
My first thought on seeing the title went something like this: It can’t be … surely this is a joke … it must be an “article” from the Babylon Bee (a well-known Christian satire site). Nope. The source was Church Leaders, a popular website for those in ministry.
My second thought, after realizing it wasn’t satire, was that the article must be dated April 1st, as the Church Leaders site is known for posting prank articles on that day. Wrong again. Not an April Fools’ joke. The post was dated July 5th.
My final guess was that it must be one of those “click-bait” hooks intended to draw people in with an absurd title. However, when I did click through to the post, I found the title was, in fact, true to the content of the article. The author really was asserting that Christians are placing a “ridiculous emphasis” on the Bible.
So, yes, the message of the article is every bit as bad as the title suggests. But, wait. It gets worse. The article starts off with an accusation that is not only untrue, but is also a flagrantly false, nonsensical, and harmful charge against millions of Christians. Jones writes:
“Most Christians assume that immediately after Jesus died, rose from the dead and went back to heaven, that a leather-bound copy of the Bible descended from the sky.”
Beginning an article with a premise that falsely judges and condemns the beliefs of “most Christians,” does not bode well for what follows. Sure enough, while the article has several compounding problems, the author later hurls yet another sweeping, generalized falsehood and condemnation of the majority of believers with this statement:
“Most Christians today assume that to be a Christian means to have a personal relationship with the Bible instead of the risen Jesus.”
Most Christians? This false accusation, while lacking in truth, steeped in subtlety, and, intentional or not, displaying harmful mockery of countless people, doesn’t even make sense. We’d be hard-pressed to find a single person who believes this–let alone “most Christians.”
The worst part of it, however, is not the false accusations and personal attacks on millions of people, as grievous as those are. Rather, it is that this article is a subtle-yet-not-so-subtle attack on Scripture itself—in the same vein as the original attack on God’s Word in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1ff). What makes this so harmful, and so “ridiculous,” is that it comes at a time when we desperately need more of an emphasis on Scripture, not mockery and false attacks on those who do value God’s Word.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate and measure the absurdity of the article in question is by comparing the title, and, therefore, its false premise, with some equally ridiculous, make-believe titles such as the following:
The Ridiculous Emphasis Teachers Place on Learning
The Ridiculous Emphasis Parents Place on Parenting
The Ridiculous Emphasis Doctors Place on Learning Medicine
The Ridiculous Emphasis Spouses Place on Communication and Love
The Ridiculous Emphasis Soldiers Place on Training and Preparation
The Ridiculous Emphasis Engineers Place on Building Things that Don’t Fall Down
Likewise, are we really to believe that Christians are placing a ridiculous emphasis on Christ’s Word?
God’s Emphasis On God’s Word
To flesh this out, let’s compare the author’s false assertion and accusations to what God says in Scripture about our view of, value of, and emphasis on His Word.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. -Psalm 1:2
What are we to make of the people in Scripture who “delight” in God’s Word, who emphasize it by meditating on it day and night—and who are exceedingly blessed for doing so (cp Ps 1; 119)?
In God will I praise His word: in the LORD will I praise His word. -Psalm 56:10
My soul faints with longing for Your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your word. -Psalm 119:81
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. -Psalm 138:2
What do we make of those who “love,” “praise,” and are consumed with longing for God’s Word (Ps 56; 119)? What are we to make of God Himself who magnifies His Word above everything else (Ps 138:2)? What do we make of Paul’s superlative exhortation and charge to “preach the Word,” and to be ready and “prepared in season and out of season,” especially the season our world is in now (cp 2 Tim 3:15-4:5)? What about those commended for having noble character, those who were so eager to daily emphasize and examine the Scripture (Acts 17:11)?
In this unprecedented age of decline, is it even possible to have a “ridiculous” emphasis on God’s Word?
Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. -Deuteronomy 8:3
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” -Matthew 4:4
We must also conclude, if the author is correct, that God and Jesus were both wrong in emphasizing our daily need for God’s Word (Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4).
Was Paul also wrong in his exhortation–to Timothy, Titus, and, ultimately, to us–to diligently study and emphasize Scripture, while being careful with our doctrine, so that we and others can be saved (1 Tim 4:15-16; 6:20-21; 2 Tim 2:15ff; 3:15ff)?
What about the early church? We read in the book of Acts, nearly 100 times, not an emphasis on good works, but on “teaching the Word” and “preaching the gospel.”
Was Daniel wrong in his beautiful prayer and exhortation—particularly at a time of national sin and a decline of truth—to turn back to emphasizing, studying, and understanding God’s Word of truth (Dan 9:1-13)?
In spite of all this emphasis on God’s Word in God’s Word, are we okay with being shamed into believing that such an emphasis is somehow now harmful and “ridiculous”?
One thing is needed. -Jesus, Luke 10:42
Remember the story of the two sisters, Mary and Martha, and what unfolded when Jesus came to their home to visit? If the author of the article in question is right, then it was Martha who was also right. Which means Jesus was wrong, and so was Mary. Jesus said that only one thing was needed.
What was that one thing? While Jesus lovingly and gently rebuked Martha (e.g., for emphasizing and being distracted by working and serving, and, therefore, not being with Him and listening to His Words), He commended Mary for choosing that one thing: sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His Word. But now we are to lessen our emphasis on Scripture? Jesus was wrong?
Contrary to the author’s original false accusation, Jesus did truly emphasize Scripture, particularly right after His resurrection. This is how the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, put it … 2
Let me call your attention to the fact that when Jesus had risen from the dead, He was just as tender of Scripture as He was before His decease. He told them that “all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and this it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead” (Luke 24:44-46, KJV).
Find Jesus where you may, He is the antagonist of those who would lessen the authority of Holy Scripture. “It is written” is His weapon against Satan, His argument against wicked men. The learned at this hour scoff at the Book and accuse of Bibliolatry [e.g., a “ridiculous emphasis” on the Bible] those of us who reverence the divine Word; but in this they derive no assistance from the teaching or example of Jesus. Not a word derogatory of Scripture ever fell from the lips of Jesus Christ; but evermore He manifested the most reverent regard for every jot and tittle of the inspired Volume. Since our Savior, not only before His death, but after it, took care thus to commend the Scriptures to us, let us avoid with all our hearts all teaching in which the Holy Scripture is put into the background. -Charles Spurgeon
For The Time Will Come
Deception, decline, and destruction begin with, and are fueled by, the doubting, diminishing, and distorting of God’s Word (Gen 3:1ff; 2 Tim 2:14ff; 4:3-4; Is 30:9-11).
Deception, decline, and destruction begin with, and are fueled by, the doubting, diminishing, and distorting of God’s Word.
While attacks on the Bible from “outside” the Church present some concern, the most alarming and even more destructive attacks come from self-proclaimed Christ-Followers who are actually inside the Church (Jude 3-4; Gal 2:1-5; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Pet 2:1ff).
No, attacks on believers and Scripture are not new. However, we live at a time where there is an ever-growing disdain for and willful perversion of God’s written Word and authority. Yet, it is far worse—and even more concerning and destructive— when people insist (and believe) that they are for the Bible, or have a high view of Scripture; but are, in reality, actively undermining and twisting God’s Word (cp Gen 3:1-5; Jer 8:8-12; 2 Tim 2:15ff; Matt 15:7-9). Sadly, as a result of the current subtle (and overt) diminishing of God’s Word, the value placed on truth and Scripture could be at an all-time low.
As a result of the current subtle (and overt) diminishing of God’s Word, the value placed on truth and Scripture could be at an all-time low.
So, should we emphasize the Bible less, or more, at a time in history where the most popular book for Christians over the last ten years was written by a woman who says words were given to her by direct revelation from someone claiming to be Jesus Himself? In clear violation of Scripture, these new revelations, that come through a mystical technique, are actually putting words into God’s mouth, and being sold by the millions via the Jesus Calling series. It is worth noting that this “Jesus” has had to correct His own words in subsequent revisions of the original edition.3 But would the real Jesus make mistakes, particularly with His own Words?
Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. -Matthew 24:4-5
God expressly condemns new revelations or adding to Scripture. Jesus too warned of many false “Christs” and the ensuing deception. Scripture cautions us to not be deceived by “another Jesus.” If Christians properly emphasized, studied, and knew their Bibles, then this book and its many sequels would not have sold 1/1,000th of the books they did. Yet the author of this article (and Church Leaders, by proxy) is asking us to decrease our emphasis on Scripture?
Are we really in danger of emphasizing Scripture too much, or too little, when a large part of the Church is enthralled with a book and movie also wildly popular and adored by those in the New Age, by those who reject Jesus and the Bible, and by those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” (cp Phil 3:17-19; 1 Cor 1:17ff)? Yes, The Shack, like Jesus Calling, freely puts words into the very mouth of God. Not only that, the author of The Shack, William Young proclaims the false gospel of universalism.4 If a book has sold millions of copies—and this same book is the top seller in both New Age and Christian bookstores alike—do we not need more truth, more discernment, and more Scripture among believers?
At a time where political correctness trumps biblical correctness—among individuals, society, and even the Church—the words of this author could be one of the worst messages possible. His fallacy is not just the opposite of truth and the antithesis of the solution, it is an assault on those who do seek to know and apply the solution. Furthermore, for Church Leaders to promote this on their website (even with their standard disclaimer), makes them equally as guilty—and perhaps more so—for giving such an idea credibility; for spreading the impact of this deception; and for not condemning these personal attacks, false accusations, and overall condemnation of believers (2 Jn 10-11; Eph 5:8-11).
In this unprecedented era (at least in America and the West) of a post-truth, subjective-over-objective, feelings-dominated society, where the value placed on truth, discernment, objectivity, and God’s Word is at an all-time low—and when those who do highly esteem these things are increasingly mocked and marginalized—do we really have a problem emphasizing Scripture too much? Is that concept itself not “ridiculous”?
Perhaps few things, if any, are more ironic than this article. If the author had actually emphasized and studied Scripture more, at least accurately (as seen above), he would not have had such a profoundly (and “ridiculously”) false conclusion, not to mention such a harmful and deceptive message about emphasizing the Bible too much. Furthermore, he would not have falsely judged and condemned so many people–and, as a result, dissuaded and discouraged them from loving according to the truth of God’s Word.
In spite of this, all is not lost. There is hope.
We can still apply the solution. We can begin or continue to rightly emphasize Scripture. We can always love others with the truth (Jas 5:19-20).
It is very possible that we are even now in the exceptionally dark period that God warned us about in His Word (2 Tim 4:3-4; 2 Thess 2:1-13). The solution in “a time of departing” from the truth and from true faith is always an emphasis on God’s Word of truth.
Let us be those people, those who rightly love and revere God and His life-saving, life-blessing Word of truth.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. -2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 Brian Jones, Church Leaders, http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/306011-ridiculous-emphasis-christians-place-bible-brian-jones.html
2 Charles Spurgeon, At the Master’s Feet, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005]
3 Warren Smith, Lighthouse Trails, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=18518
4 Mark Baker, Hope For Life, http://www.hopeforlifeonline.com/2017/04/07/the-shack-a-watershed-moment/