Being biblical is an important thing in the land of… biblical people. Since the Enlightenment we have been bombarded with much liberalism. Entire denominations have been destroyed by the leaven of doubt. But there is, oh joy, a christianity that calls itself biblical; a bulwark that has stood against the tide of de-christianization and secularization. And by God’s grace it will continue to do so: testing the times by means of the Word, examining every teaching by the measuring rod of Scripture. This christianity is biblical; it takes the Word of God seriously. It refuses to exchange its daily bread for stones, let alone conjure stones into bread.
But wait, biblical, what is that? Being biblical is being faithful to the Bible. It is to believe that the Bible is God’s Word, to not only confess but also to act, to not just pay lip service but to also to be prepared to do what the Bible commands, to not only defend it against the attacks of the godless, but also against the faithlessness of the so-called pious.
Let’s face it, we are not biblical, none of us. Take a look, for instance, at the idea of a literal interpretation of the Bible. Some biblically minded people truly think that Methusalem really became almost a 1000 years old, but no one believes that the monster from the sea (Daniel) is actually an animal. Some believe we need to understand the 6 day creation to mean 6 literal days of 24 hours each, but none of them walks around with one arm or with one eye gouged out, while that too is literally in the Bible. So, sometimes the interpretation needs to be literal and sometimes not. Who is the judge? Well, quite simply either the theology of the biblically minded person or the graveness of the consequences. But it’s usually not the Bible itself.
“Sell everything you have and give it to the poor…” All of a sudden it is not to be taken literally or it does have no bearing on today’s reader. “Don’t touch my wallet!” someone shouts. Ik have no problem with such a reading, but I just want to show that the ‘literal’ or ‘correct’ reading of Scripture depends on all sorts of factors other than the desire to be biblical. Without realizing it, readers impose their own ideas about the text on the text. Also the biblically minded, evangelicals, and theologically conservatives. No matter how we try, we cannot escape blind spots which result in a distorted view of the biblical text and a concomitant state of being unbiblical.
Distortions of the Bible are not difficult to point out. In evangelical theology, for instance, the vertical relation between God and human being is emphasized. This often happens at the expense of a healthy horizontal line between human being and human being, human being and society, human being and nature, as well as a healthy self-integration of the human being as both a spiritual and a bodily being. Reconciliation often means too much the deliverance of our souls from an evil lost world in order to enable us to go to heaven when it is our time. To the extent that this is the only emphasis we have, this view is unbiblical. It is very one-sided. Besides, we will not go to heaven, but to a new earth. For all its efforts and intentions, such thinking is not faithful to Scripture. The confidence and self-assured attitude of evangelicalism deserves to be shaken up a bit. When we think we are biblical, i.e. faithful to the Scriptures, we’d better mirror ourselves in those Scriptures that always correct and transform.
But seriously, was our ‘unbiblicalness,’ our faithlessness to the will of God, our faithlessness toward the law of God, our lack of faithfulness to the Scriptures not the very reason why Jesus came? The church that says that she is biblical runs the risk of secretly asserting to have no need of Jesus. Such a church already knows everything, does everything right (or believes that acting is not part of the concept ‘biblical’), and trusts in her own interpretation and theology. I do not want to belong to such a church. Every day anew I want to confess my inability to fulfill the will of God, to learn what Jesus teaches, and to understand what the Spirit has to say. In this I cannot trust my own ‘biblicality,’ my own faithfulness to Scripture, for at its best it would be pride and at its worst a way to speak the truth without having to practice it. I am not biblical. Jesus came for my faithlessness!