Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thus Far, No Further

I recently heard Speaker of the House John Boehner as he talked about the circumstances in our country, and the fact that we are mortgaging the future on the backs of our children. It was a pretty scary message. It was the first message that John Boehner gave outside of Washington since taking over his new post. I also recently participated in a celebration of the King James Version of the Bible. It’s been 400 years now.
I think all too often we take for granted the Bible. We take for granted men like John Wycliffe, who was willing to translate the Bible into the English tongue against opposition to the contrary. Some of you may recall that forty-four years after he had died, his bones were exhumed, his bones burned, and the ashes unceremoniously scattered to the wind.

No doubt some of those ashes made their way to a man named William Tyndale, who likewise began translating the Bible into the English language. He believed the boy who drives the plow should be as familiar with the Bible as was the pope. So he too suffered from the wrath of the Church. October 6, 1536, he was burned alive. While he was dying in flames, he cried out, “Oh God, open the eyes of England’s King!”

Tyndale’s prayers were answered, ironically, by King Henry the VIII, who had Bibles of largest volume chained to pulpits throughout the land. People would come and listen to the immortal words of Scripture.

Then in 1604 King James I commissioned the King James Version of the Bible, which was completed in 1611. There were three versions. I spent some time with a man who actually owns three original copies that were produced between the 1611 version and the 1769 version. What an incredible passion he had for the Word of God as he was collecting old Bibles and recognizing what people went through so that we could have the Bibles we have in every color, size, and shape—every kind of study Bible you can imagine. Yet the apathy in the Christian world towards the Bible is criminal, quiet frankly.

Now you have people who are trying to undermine the Bible in very sophisticated fashion. You have people like Bart Ehrman, Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has written a book titled Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Not only does he believe that the copyists who copied the manuscripts were animated by anti-Semitic motives, but he thinks that the very manuscripts that we hold dear were forged. I predict that his book will be another blockbuster bestseller and people will buy uncritically into his nonsense. All the more reason that people who genuinely love the Word of God must become equipped to communicate that nothing could be further from the truth. If you get into Ehrman’s arguments, even though they sound sophisticated, they’re really quite dumb. I point this out in my new book, Has God Spoken?, which is with the publisher and will be released in the autumn. It will be a good corrective to these kinds of attacks on the Bible.

Do you really love the Word of God enough, or do you just say you love the Word of God? Do you genuinely love the Word of God, or do you give mere lip service to it?

The secularists are saying that “we don’t even read the Bible we pretend to defend.” Maybe they have a point there. We are becoming a biblically illiterate church, and its time to stem the tide. Just as Boehner was talking about it being time for us to reign in our debt in the U.S., it’s time for us Christians to say, “Thus far, no further.” We live in the shadow of the Bible, but we can get back to the Bible, and that’s what we’re called to do.

Just a few people can make a difference. Hopefully you’re one of them. That’s one of the reasons we ask you to stand with this ministry, because we’re willing to stand for truth no matter what the cost. If you examine what goes under the rubric of religious studies today, you might well think, “It’s a circus.” But we can make a difference. We can stem the tide. Just a few people willing to stand for truth no matter what the cost eventually became a catalyst for the Bible to be available to us today. Like those who lit the way many years ago, we can light the way today. It’s just a matter of whether we are willing to do for the truth what so many others are willing to do for a lie.


Rob said...

Amen, Hank. This post speaks to my heart, as my wife and I have recently began questioning the purpose of our church (an Alliance in Alberta) mission statement. While I agree whole heartedly with the Pastor's view that we should be salt and light, I feel that without first and foremost having an equipping-centric basis in the actual church building, we won't be very salty, or (if you pardon the pun) very bright.
To tie this lengthy comment into your post, it struck my heart because, while talking with a friend from the congregation about this issue we're having, I made mention of how I had heard Adrian Rodgers earlier that day on the radio speaking about how Bible-illiteracy is becoming a cancer to the body of Christ. To paraphrase his response, he basically said, "Of course those (radio guys) WOULD feel that way, they're Theological giants."
Needless to say, my heart was broken that he didn't share my alarm.

Danielle Newsome said...

Thanks for this post Hank! I totally agree. I am one of the younger generation who is committed to the Bible and will raise my kids to be committed to the Bible too!

Mr.Shelton said...

Thank you Hank for this post. I am a minister of the Gospel and understand the importance of the Holy scriptures. I hope that through much prayer and study that one day I will be able to affect lives as you do for time and for eternity.