I recently asked a question; i.e. I took a survey. I asked the question of those who professed to believe the Bible, of those I had reason to believe meant it. The question was:
Is what’s in the Bible true because it is in the Bible or is it in the Bible because it is true?
A fair majority said, “It is in the Bible because it is true.” A few said, “Both.” Some evaded the question by answering only, “What’s in it is true.” One went on to say, “Who wrote it is truth!” And then, of course, there were those who just didn’t answer.
Some found it necessary to qualify their answers with some sort of theological statement. One likened it to asking, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” One saw problems with either answer; another thought either answer could be defended but that, “it is in the Bible because it is true” is “slightly more accurate than the other.” And so it goes! It appeared also that some felt that however they answered they would be challenged theologically and would find themselves on the defensive, and were therefore a little skittish about saying anything.
The Barna Group of Ventura California recently took a survey. As a result of this survey they wrote an article titled: “Many Churchgoers and Faith Leaders Struggle to Define Spiritual Maturity.” (You can find it at www.barna.org.) It appears that “maturity” is not the only thing that churches and preachers are having trouble defining.
I guess then, the real question is: Do we know what we believe and why we believe it? (Well now, wait a minute, first I have to check to see what John Wesley, John Knox, John Calvin and/or Johnny Appleseed said about it.) Gracious! I seem to be having an awful problem with sarcasm these days.
“The chicken or the egg?” To those who answered, “both” I suppose neither came first but the chicken and the egg arrived simultaneously. That got me to thinking, or rather asking, why did I ask the question in the first place. Maybe I was convinced that I knew the answer and just wanted to find out if you did. For the majority, who answered, “It is in the Bible because it is true,” there were different methods for arriving at that answer. Some made a theological statement that concluded with that answer. Some arrived at that answer via reason and logic. My favorite response came from a laymen (i.e. a non-preacher) who said it has to be, “its in the Bible because it is true” because if “its true because it is in the Bible” were true then that would make the Bible the highest authority thereby dethroning God and God does not surrender His authority to anybody or anything. Have a nice day.