I write this column knowing full well that there are a number of Tribune readers — including some local clergy members — who do not believe in the certainty of God’s Word. They may respect the Bible and even at times reference it. But they do not subscribe to the belief that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God.
Simply put, they do not believe the Bible is true and without error.
That’s OK. That’s their opinion. And that’s the point I want to make. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. That’s what makes our country great. While I may not agree with your opinion, I support your right to express it.
Opinions, however, are subject to established principles or statutes that may trump an individual’s right of expression. It may be my opinion that there’s nothing wrong with driving 75 mph in a 25 mph zone. The law, however, has a different opinion and the authorities will be certain to fine me if I am caught.
Contrary to what some believe, the Bible is not a collection of opinions. It claims to be the Word of God and repeatedly makes that assertion throughout its pages. You and I have the option of believing or not believing what the Bible says. But our opinion doesn’t make the Bible less or more true. It stands on its own witness.
When Moses received the Ten Commandments, God didn’t give him 10 opinions that the Israelites could accept or reject without repercussion. They were laws that God formulated and commanded the Israelites to believe and practice. Like posted speed limits along U.S. 31, God’s Word is law and must be obeyed.
Some people, like President Obama and others, have publically declared that their opinions on the issue of same-sex marriage have evolved. They mean that after re-consideration they changed their minds. That’s fine. We have the right to change our minds. But we don’t have the right to regard what God has said about certain prohibitions as merely an opinion subject to change with the times.
The writer of Psalm 119:160 states: “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” I doubt the writer was employing hyperbole with the words truth, rules and forever.
You cannot separate God’s Word from himself. He is immutable. That means he does not change. What God says is who God is. Doubting God’s Word is akin to questioning his character, something the serpent did in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1).
If God’s recorded Word is vulnerable to the fickleness of society, how can anyone find comfort, assurance or peace in what God has said? Was Jesus only kidding, or worst lying, when he claimed to be the only way to the Father in heaven (John 14:6)?
Addressing whether or not the resurrection of Jesus Christ was really true or just his opinion, the Apostle Paul wrote: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). He went on to say that if people are saying the resurrection of Christ happened when it really didn’t, they are misrepresenting God.
Who decides which part of God’s Word is subject to the changing opinions of the public and which part is timeless and true? It can’t be true for me and not true for you. One of us is wrong. I believe gravity is more than a theory. Do you want to chance proving me wrong by jumping off a cliff?
Some are of the opinion that Jesus’ inclusiveness means overlooking or accepting certain behaviors that the Bible clearly notes as prohibitive and against God’s creative mandates. They also suggest that the Holy Spirit is in agreement, leading the Church to question or even reject what the Bible has spoken to so decisively in the past. Such opinions are not only theologically absurd, they are logically impossible (I don’t mean certain dietary, societal or worship injunctions specific and unique to Israel before Christ’s ministry on earth).
Orthodox Christians believe that God is One in three distinct persons — God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus stated that he and God the Father are one (John 10:30). The Apostle John wrote that Jesus is the Word of God and that he is God (John 1:1). So it’s logical that what God said in the Old Testament is in agreement with what Jesus said as recorded in the Gospels and what has been written in the epistles as well (Rom. 15:4). God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) cannot contradict himself. He is not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).
Finally, congregations or their pastors cannot decide for themselves whether or not God’s Word is true. They can only choose to believe it and live by it, or reject it and go their own way. Frankly, if I was to put the truth of God’s Word to a vote from my pulpit, I’m certain my congregation would vote me right out the church door.
Truth — the Bible — does not evolve.
— The Rev. Ray Paget is pastor of Grand Haven Community Baptist Church.