There always seems to be three happenings that cause my mind to set off a soul surmise. This time it is the heresy of the shrivelling up of the Scriptures. Let my three stories lead us into the problem. First, someone was complaining to me that their minister didn’t preach “the Word.” I was surprised as I knew their minister to be someone who believed in the Scriptures. When I asked this critic what he meant he told me how on the previous Sunday his minister had started in Nehemiah and spoke about the Old Testament prophet’s perseverance in building the walls and then touched on a healing of Jesus. I was puzzled as I was pretty sure both those stories are in the Scriptures! My friend had confined “the Word” or at times he preferred to use “the Gospel” to a very limited amount of the Scriptures. For him the entire “Word” or “Gospel” was preaching that people were sinful and that Jesus died for their sins to save them from hell. Unless that was preached by his minister every Sunday then he wasn’t preaching “the Word.”
A second story tells of a minister who when asked about his congregation reaching out into the local neighbourhood in social care projects responded by saying that his Church would not still be here in 20 years if he pursued such projects but would only survive by the preaching of “the Word.” The conclusion of my surmising on this one asks how you can preach the entirety of the Scriptures without a whole lot of that preaching being about social care in the neighbourhood. If we then preach that and don’t do what the Scriptures say are we not, as Jesus said, like foolish men who build their houses on the sand. Thus, this minister’s Church will not be here in 20 years because the winds and rains will blow down a Church with no foundation. Jesus taught us in that section of the Sermon On The Mount that the foundations were not the words he taught but the obedience to the words!
Third up, and most incredible of all, was a story a friend shared with me that he had been to a Bible Conference where the preacher preached the book of Amos for an entire weekend and never mentioned social justice once! This is a remarkable piece of hermeneutical gymnastics! Yet, you see, if you’ve understood the first two scenarios then this makes perfect sense. The Scriptures have been so confined that we are leaving great chunks of it out and most incredibly this is coming from those who are most adamant that “the Word” is central to their theology, teaching and preaching.
As someone from the reformed tradition I am so delighted with our heritage of the whole counsel of God. These abuses of Scripture, that we have surmised, this abhorrent dismantling of the Scripture needs to be addressed. Yet, it is a widely held heresy. It is almost a cultish brainwashing that has led us to this tragic state of affairs. I listen to students whose Christian worldview is not Biblically based but based on this shrivelled version of God’s truth. It leads to shrivelled discipleship, shrivelled mission and a shrivelled God.