Scripture is NOT a buffet

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.

God bless

-Kristin

5 thoughts on “Scripture is NOT a buffet

  1. Reblogged this on One Shiny Penny and commented:
    Amen! I love this post!

    I would add, though, that the issue of head coverings is actually pretty easy to answer biblically because, in that same chapter (1 Co. 11:16), Paul clearly tells them not to worry if that causes difficulty for them because they “have no such custom” (proving that the issues he just mentioned – including head coverings – are customs and not laws).

    The harder issue is proving that the dietary laws were given only to the Jews, because Noah (long before the Jews existed) was told to take 7 pairs of clean animals into the ark and only one pair of unclean ones. I have heard some people claim that clean and unclean had to do with the temple and sacrificial system, but it would seem that system had not been laid out yet, either. So, the go-to argument seems to be Peter’s vision, but twice Peter makes it clear that the vision was about “unclean” gentiles rather than unclean foods, so that argument doesn’t hold up. Then there’s Paul’s statement to eat anything placed before you, no questions asked, but that argument fails, too, because Paul makes it clear he’s referring to foods offered to idols, not unclean foods. So how do we biblically establish no longer needing to distinguish between clean and unclean foods? It would sure help if there was some kind of evidence that God somehow purified the animals He had called unclean. 😰

    Worse yet is the “Sabbath” issue. Nowhere does the Bible seem to say God moved the holiness of the “seventh day” to Sunday, and nowhere does it seem to say that the holiness of the day no longer mattered. And since it was “made holy” at creation, we again can’t argue that it was just for the Jews (Jesus even said it was made for man, not Jews). Add in the fact that the catholic catechism claims that the pope is the one who changed the holiness to Sunday and that the change isn’t Biblical, and it makes one wonder, are we really okay “forgetting” about the only commandment that says “remember”? It certainly makes it difficult to argue that we are, based on the Bible as opposed to the traditions of men (especially when the disciples continued to keep the seventh day holy, as seen in scripture, and Isaiah 66:23 claims we will still be keeping it in heaven).

    So, it would appear she’s right. There are definitely some traditional church teachings that are hard to establish from scripture.

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  2. I would have responded to this back after you first did it but I’ve been dealing with a little bit of a medical issue that has kept me away. Anyway, I decided to respond still.

    While I agree with the premise that more people need to study the bible and find better understanding and have more knowledge to answer questions, I don’t agree that the purpose of that should be to defend our faith. Our faith doesn’t require defending, you either have it or you don’t. The bible doesn’t need defending either, people will either read it for themselves or go on believing whatever they believe. If you tell someone who is willing to adjust their view, they will read it for themselves and see their mistake.

    Most people who are actively attacking the bible and our faith aren’t interested in finding truth, they only want us to believe as they do. This is no different than many Christians who “defend” the bible or their faith. Taking questions and providing some answers is not defending the bible but rather making people aware of the truth.

    There are many examples where we are asked to not worry about those that hate us, persecute us, spread lies against us, etc. This is because if they do so because of our belief in Christ, we should feel blessed. The fact that they are doing it is a sign we are on the right track.

    I believe defense naturally brings out offense. Defending something often results in emotionally charged situations. Either your defense will be because you were offended, or they will be offended by your defense. How can we not feel anger when others question our beliefs? How can others not feel anger when we question theirs? Sure, we should have faith and remain calm, but most do not.

    There are a lot of people out there that are defending the faith and don’t know what they are talking about. I think your main idea of knowing the bible and answering questions is a more accurate representation of what we should do as Christians.

    Anyway, I do agree with you, just not about defending. I’m currently watching campaign of others defending the bible on Facebook and it does not feel like the right thing to do. It’s aggressive, its divisive, and it doesn’t invite additional conversation. I think we can correct more incorrect thoughts by just answering questions instead of being defensive.

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    1. Firstly, hope you’re doing okay medically. Sorry to hear you’ve been out of commission lately 😦

      I think we’re shooting from two different angles, but we’re arriving at the same place. (mostly). I will agree with you that, at times, “defenses” made for our faith are not helpful at best, cringy at worst. Some of PragerU’s stuff comes to mind. I personally enjoy listening to Dennis Prager. But, listening to him try to convince atheists why their worldview is wrong has me cringing a bit.

      However, when I talk about making a “defense” for our faith, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. If an atheist tells me the Bible condones rape and polygamy, I’m going to point them to Scriptures that show them their error. However, I also understand that there will come a point where no matter what I say, they aren’t going to hear me…

      I 100% agree that there comes a point where we need to walk away. Conversations we have are simply not productive. I’ve seen Christians and atheists go round and round and ROUND about issues like objective/subjective reality. No one budges on their view.

      But, I do think we should be able to explain WHAT we believe an WHY we believe it. I get what you’re saying, that God doesn’t need defending, however, I also think we should be equipped to answer questions.

      Here’s what it comes to (for me, anyway). If a non-Christian has questions for me, I want to be able to answer them to the best of my ability. I personally do believe that we should be able to do that. However, and I believe this is where discernment comes into play, I know there comes a point where we need to stop talking and just walk away. And perhaps, a seed was planted.

      Lastly (sorry, almost done here) yes, sometimes the Gospel, by itself, WILL offend. And I will agree with you that when we witness to non-believers, we should always do so in a way that is loving, gentle, and kind. When I say ‘defense’ I am in no way implying we bash people over the head with a Bible and tell them how stupid they and their world view are.

      Hope that clarifies a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I figured that is the way you meant it. I just wanted to make sure. I’m seeing way too much militant-like behavior and tones lately. I can’t believe how aggressive their words and actions are at times. I just want our goal to always be one of seeking conversation and sharing the truth and our hope in Christ.

        Thank you for the clarification. We definitely are at the same place from different directions.

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