8/22/16 Graham about 35
What do people mean when they claim the Bible is outdated and no longer relevant? That was the main reason that a man named Graham, in an outreach conversation, gave me for not really taking it seriously. Some people think that we have made such moral progress that we have far surpassed the unjust and oppressive practices of civilizations and cultures in biblical times. They think the Bible is not relevant to our level of sophistication, and that things like research and science should be our guide.
Not so with Graham. He thinks we as a culture are “going to hell in a handbasket”, and that the Bible is no longer relevant to help him face the new kind of temptations and sin in an increasingly perverse and evil society. He claimed an attitude of moral indignation over the evil culture around him, but when he told me he thought the Ten Commandments were just meant to be “suggestions”, I could see he was really just looking for an excuse to give in to it.
But whether we see our own society as morally better or worse than in biblical times, the temptation is to ignore the timeless truths of the Bible and try to navigate into the future by our own abilities. But where would we as a culture be without the Bible?
The Bible is really a library, a collection of books all of which record some aspect of history, mainly focusing on the Hebrew people, the life of Christ and the spread of Christianity, and all having something to say about human nature and God’s involvement with mankind. History is always controversial because, since one can’t possibly record everything, who decides what will be remembered and passed on to future generations? Usually this is decided by those in power, but not so with the Bible. To say that the books of the Bible are inspired by God means that they contain what God wants to be recorded and passed on, but it does not mean that God approves of everything that happened. We may learn from the successes of people in the past, but we also learn from their moral failures. Maybe we can avoid making the same mistakes they made, if we are willing to prayerfully read it and listen and obey.
Ecclesiastes 1 says “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.” We may be deceived by technological progress, but human nature remains the same. A philosopher named George Santayana famously said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” To say that the Bible is no longer relevant is like saying that the study of history isn’t relevant. Do we really want to go into the future without learning from the past?
We read in Proverbs 1, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Why read the Bible? We’d be foolish not to.