For the Bible Tells Me So—Whatever I Want To Believe

The famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth was asked toward the end of his life if he could sum up his thinking. He quoted from the little song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

What I’ve learned from 50 years of study is that we who are students need to be careful about discussions of “the Bible tells me so.”

Reading 18th and 19th century American southern preachers, I discovered that the Bible tells us that people from Africa are not really human fully. Therefore, there is no moral wrong about slavery.

A little later, I read where the Bible tells us that women are not equal to men, and therefore, they should not be accepted into leadership, ordination, preaching, and so forth.

Later still, I read the preachers who taught that if someone divorces (not through abuse—another subject) simply to marry someone more “acceptable”, then they are unacceptable sinners and not worthy for any type of church leadership.

Most Christians have moved past all of these myths, as well they should have.

Today the Bible tells us that people who are homosexual are unacceptable sinners and not worthy for any type of church leadership.

I’m betting that in fewer than 20 years a generation will die and a new generation of Bible readers will consign this idea to that same dustbin of failed ideas as ideas about black people, women, divorced people (well, prejudice remains, but it’s no longer mainstream).

The arguments in every case were the same. But I think that we will eventually come around to the teaching of Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine)—the New Testament must be interpreted in light of Jesus’ two commands, that we love God and that we love our neighbor.

Jesus after all brought the Kingdom of God—an entirely new realm among us where love rules over power and legalism. The resurrection proved it. And that is what we anticipate as we refocus during Lent.

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