For the most part I enjoy reading the Huffington Post Religion section. This last week I happened upon an article titled “6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying.” I thought, this might be an interesting article to read. It was! I was perplexed and challenged by the 6 things that author Steve McSwain said that Christians should give up on saying. I want to respond fairly and accurately to these suggestions. First, I will begin by listing the six statements McSwain made:
1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God.
2. We just believe the Bible.
3. Jesus is the only way to heaven.
4. The rapture of Jesus is imminent.
5. Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God.
6. The earth is less than 10,000 years old.
While I could spend a lot of space to refute each one of McSwain’s points I would like to point out that my main problem is that if Christians need to stop saying these things, what should we say? If you take away the essential doctrines of what it means to be an orthodox Christian such as affirming biblical authority through inerrancy and infallibility and Christological claims to exclusivity for salvation then what should they be replaced with? Even though we do not have any original manuscripts, I think that judging by the documents, resources, and scholarship that we do have there is a basis for saying the Bible is reliable and perceived errors can be explained rationally. I would say that I would have a weak base of faith if I could not depend on the reliability of Scripture and the essential claims of Christ in John 14:6 that “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It is true, as McSwain writes about explaining interpretation better that,
It would be patently more honest of Christians to say, “The following represents our understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures, but we are also aware there are many equally sincere Christians who interpret the Scriptures differently from us.”
This is of course why my main arguments are against his first three points than his last three because I agree that many legitimate, sincere Christians do not believe in premillennialism as it is contemporarily understood. I find myself more in the historical premillennial camp, but I have respect for those with amillennial and post-millennial views. I also don’t agree with McSwain’s statement about homosexuality, because he discounts the biblical basis of the understanding of homosexuality as a sin. While I cannot say that the Bible is clear about whether homosexuality is a choice or not, I do take issue with McSwain’s statement that, “You can still revere the Bible, my friend, but move beyond the prejudice of Paul or anyone else. You don’t need to make Saint Paul infallible to treat the Bible as important.” Paul was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so how can we throw it out, even if you reject infallibility, does this rejection require full rejection of the Bible’s claim of being God’s word?
The third issue, of young earth views versus old earth views is neither here nor there to me. Its not a hill that I’m going to die on as long as we can agree that God created the world. I do agree that we do not live in a Christian nation and that many of the founders were not Christian, but that does not mean that schools can not or should not include covering evolution and design theory.
Lastly, McSwain ends his article by stating that,
“Now, there is one thing I think all Christians, including me, should remember — no, should practice (and we should practice this between ourselves first, too) — and that is the one simple thing Jesus once said would be the one-and-only thing the world would know us by…
Not our beliefs.
Not our doctrines.
Not our denomination’s distinctions.
Not even our declarations.
Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love” (John 13:35).
When we love, what more needs to be said?”
If that love is devoid of conviction that is rooted in the belief of a triune God who has given us a foundation of moral principles, ultimate truth, diversity, and unity through the work of his Son, and Scriptures revealed by the Holy Spirit, then that love is not a prophetic witness to the Gospel which is what will bring and has brought hope to billions of people. I am glad Steve McSwain wrote this article because I think it emphasizes what we should say better when utilizing arguments, especially in light of the authority and reliability of Scripture and Christ’s exclusivity as the only way to the Father. I hope you all have a blessed afternoon!