There is an important difference among Christians. That point of division is whether we view the Bible as God’s Word spoken through men or as men’s words about God.
A Common Modern View
Those who view the Bible as men’s words about God feel free to disagree with various statements made by the Bible. You might be surprised how common it is for pastors and theologians who adopt this view of scripture to accept major revisions to the historical sections of the Bible. When these revisions are adopted, the Exodus becomes a series of fairy tales concocted to unite disparate peoples; David becomes a local sheik instead of great king; and Jesus is recast as a teacher who never did a miracle and whose bones lie in some unknown grave.
When it comes to doctrine and practice, such people tend to use preferred, general principles to override specific statements that are made elsewhere. Take women’s ordination as an example. The apostle Paul’s specific prohibition against women teaching or having authority over men is ignored with the explanation that he did not understand the full implications of his more general statement that everyone shares alike in the Gospel.
Likewise, because such people are willing to set aside various statements in the Bible, it is easy for them to unite with other Christians who hold the same view of scripture. There are, in their view, no hard and fast standards that can be used to settle disputes. Therefore, they simply agree to disagree on many matters.
At St. Paul Lutheran, we are the other type of Christians. We believe that although the Bible was written by men, God caused them to write what He wanted written. Therefore, the Bible is God’s Word, not theirs, and our task is to understand and apply it rather than to evaluate or edit it.
As a result, when specific instructions are given that limit general principles, they are followed. (That’s why we don’t ordain women). We also accept the historical sections of the Bible as accurate descriptions of events. We believe that Jesus was God in the flesh, that he was born of a virgin, and that he rose again from the dead. His tomb is empty. There is no unmarked grave because he lives.
Our commitment to the scriptures makes it much more difficult for us to unite with other Christians–especially those who pick and choose what they will believe. We cannot simply agree to disagree. We must remain faithful to God’s Word and cannot align ourselves with those who misrepresent what God has said.
Jesus, himself, warned against substituting the opinions and teachings of men for the Word of God. We take that warning seriously and that makes us different from many of the churches in our area–even some that go by the name “Lutheran.”
The Difference It Makes For You
What this means for you is that the preaching and teaching you receive at St. Paul’s will be truly Biblical. You will hear what God has said about sin and grace, life and death. That will give you the best possible foundation for your faith and your daily life.
Next: Baptism: a Work of God