You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
~ Hebrews 5:12-14
All of the people reading this undoubtedly want to grow in their faith, to become more “mature”, as Paul puts it. We want to learn more, so that we can be closer to God; we want meat, not milk. But sometimes we overlook things, just because we have seen them before. There is a natural tendency to look for new things to learn; I certainly make the mistake of sometimes believing that, if a truth isn’t different, if it isn’t new, then it isn’t “meat”.
Academia is especially bad in this respect, because assistant professors become tenured full professors by publishing books; and publishers don't want a book that says the same thing another book says. There is an unfortunate pressure for scholars to make startling new theses, to reinterpret old truths, and all too often the “startling new theses” are hogwash and, even worse, destructive of both faith and wisdom. Not always; sometimes a new idea that contradicts an old idea is a great breakthrough. But not always.
In Christianity, this can be a terrible problem. In one area, for example — the idea that the Bible needs to be fundamentally reinterpreted because “society has changed” — it can lead to wholesale abandonment of Biblical truth. Consider sexual immorality; a lot of what are called “liberal theologians” (which is a bit of a misnomer) declare that the sexual mores have changed and ignore, either officially or simply by inattention, some part of the Bible that deals with, say, extra-marital sex. Those verses were specific to the time in which they were written they say; so, since times have changed, the Bible needs to change with it.
In the case of sexual morality, at least, the argument is really quite absurd. The sexual mores of 50 A.D. in the Roman Empire were practically non-existent. The Bible was written during one of the greatest periods of sexual excess in human history!
It is becoming increasingly clear that such lamebrained approaches to Biblical scholarship threaten Christianity. If the Bible is not taken as inerrant, Christianity is dead. Every denomination (primarily mainstream Protestant denominations in Western cultures) that has rewritten the Bible is dying. Losses in membership for them range from 1% to 3% per year, while the population as a whole grows. The Episcopal Church is on the verge of dropping below a million communicants — and they still count as members many people who actually have joined other churches (like myself).
Paul wrote, “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved, (tested by trial) a workman, who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing (rightly handling and skillfully teaching) the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) Let us always approach the Bible, not seeking to find support for our ideas, but to learn the true and unchanging World of God, the only and eternal Truth.
Lord, give me diligence study your Word and learn it as it is written, for your truth is eternal. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer