Whenever my family and I go out to dinner, more often than not, we wind up at a buffet. Truthfully, I prefer a sit-down dinner, but hey, mom life. Buffets are an obvious choice for families with young children. They’re usually cheap, you can get in and out quickly, and you have lots of options.
My youngest daughter, Quinn, is a bit of a finicky eater. I never had this issue with her older sister. Quinn can love a food one day and hate it the next. She can actually be several bites into a meal and then decide she doesn’t like it. This makes meal time LOTS of fun (sarcasm).
Buffets are great for eating. Get the foods you like; leave the foods you don’t like. Scripture isn’t a buffet, though. We can’t just pick and choose the parts we want and leave the rest…
Christians and non-Christians alike are accused of “cherry-picking” Scripture. For Christians, we quote the verses we like and ignore the difficult ones. We shrug our shoulders and say it’s cultural or it’s the Old Testament so it doesn’t matter. Non-Christians who like to discredit Christianity tend to do the opposite: they quote the Pentateuch and ignore the rest of the Bible. These are both incorrect ways to examine Scripture.
There are passages in the Bible that are difficult to understand. That doesn’t mean we should disregard them. If we believe what 2 Timothy 3:16 says, that all Scripture is God-breathed, than every verse is in the Bible for a reason. There are no “accidental verses”.
Yes, some of the Bible is cultural. Just to give a quick example, personally, I don’t believe women need to cover their heads. I do believe that was cultural. Considering the vast majority of Christian women who do not wear a head-covering, I’m guessing many would agree. And yes, some of the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel and does not apply to Christians today (e.g. food laws, clothing laws, the sacrificial system). However, what concerns me is that non-Christians have questions about the text and we are often left stumped, unable to answer these questions. Not every difficult passage can be labeled cultural or irrelevant. At some point, we need to defend Scripture and a Biblical worldview.
There is a very serious lack of apologetic preaching within the church. Christians, generally speaking, aren’t equipped to defend their faith, more specifically defend Scripture. While it is unrealistic to expect every Christian be a Biblical scholar, we should be able to answer basic questions and defend our core beliefs. Instead, we ignore questions because we are ill equipped to answer them.
If someone says to you that the Bible condones rape; how will you respond? What is someone asks you why God called for the slaughter of innocent men, women, and children; do you know what you’d say? If you were asked why you believe the Bible at all; do you have an answer? These are questions you will likely face when you talk to non-Christians about your faith.
To be fair, you can have answers and just reach a point where you and a non-Christian just won’t agree. However, we should at least have an answer and a defense. While I would agree there comes a point where a conversation is no longer productive, we should at least be able to engage in these types of discussions.
I know, at times, I may sound like a broken record when I harp on the importance of reading and studying Scripture, but it is incredibly important. It makes no sense to affirm the infallibility of Scripture while simultaneously wanting to ignore large portions of the text.
The great news is, because of this thing called the internet, it’s never been a better time to be a Christian. From sites like Blue Letter Bible that offer free commentaries to Got Questions Ministries, many answers are just a Google search away.
However, there are also times where we know the Biblical answer but it’s hard to defend. Following Christ is counter-cultural. It always has been. Perhaps we also need to prepare ourselves to face opposition as well.
Christians living in America are, arguably, some of the most liberated and protected Christians on the planet. Perhaps we should take advantage of that liberty. The vast majority of us will not die a martyr nor we will experience severe persecution for our faith. Persecution for American Christians is having a Facebook shut down or having an atheist laugh at the “fairy tales” we believe in. Compared to what other Christians endure (and compared to what Christ endured), we have it pretty cozy.
It’s okay to have questions and to not have all the answers. However, we should actively seek truth instead of hiding from the unknown. Ultimately, by refusing to treat Scripture like a buffet by only picking out the verses we like, we’re setting ourselves up for a stronger faith. Not only will be grow in our own understanding, we will become better evangalists.
In conclusion, if we believe that if we seek God and seek truth, we’ll find it, then we should have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Be encouraged. Grow in your knowledge and understanding. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.