"When it comes to deciding how to follow Jesus Christ in our time, the Bible often takes a backseat even for evangelicals"

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Aaron Blumer's picture


We understand the temptation to talk about the Bible mostly in terms of “what it means to me” and its “practical application to daily life.” But when this hermeneutic dominates—as it does today—Christianity becomes little more than self-help therapy.

Kind of surprised to this in CT.

Larry Nelson's picture


David Cloud published an article on his website just a few days ago that challenges Fundamentalism along similar lines (i.e. that we need to reinforce---or in some cases return to---the sole authority of the Bible):


"You have heard of “old wives’ tales,” but what about “old preachers’ tales”?

In my experience, the minds of many independent Baptist preachers contain many vain tales and folklore that are taken as “gospel.” These “old preachers’ tales” are passed on from generation to generation and are trotted out frequently in conversation and sermon to the enthusiastic acclaim of the brethren.

In fact, these “old preachers’ tales” are fundamental principles by which many preachers conduct their ministries.

Yet they fall to pieces the moment they are tested by the Word of God.

Any principle that fails the test of God’s Word is wrong-headed and humanistic, no matter how popular.

Most of the following “old preachers’ tales” are geared to support and defend the popular principle that preachers should focus on the positive and avoid the negative, that a “warning ministry” is unnecessary at best. This has been the heart and soul of New Evangelicalism since the 1950s, and it has been accepted by a large number of fundamental Baptist preachers who would strongly disavow New Evangelicalism.

My earnest prayer, a prayer I have prayed with tears, is that fundamental Baptist preachers will stop the mindless commitment to Baptist tradition and the blind loyalty to some “hero,” and be more committed to God’s Word than tradition and more loyal to the infallible Christ than some fallible man.

We all give lip service to the commitment to the Bible as “the sole authority for faith and practice,” but how true is that commitment when it comes to our pet theories, vain folklore, and “old preachers’ tales”?"



(I often read Cloud with skepticism, but when he's right, he's right...)

Aaron Blumer's picture


Skepticism, yes. I hv not often agreed w/the author of the CT article either.

Larry Nelson's picture


It occurs to me that Cloud, while admonishing believers to be, "more loyal to the infallible Christ than some fallible man," typically appears unwilling to accept that those who disagree with him in any way might in fact (ideally) be doing exactly that.

[Not trying to derail this into a "David Cloud" discussion, but the thought seems loosely relevant to the OP.]


RickyHorton's picture

It is sad but many people in churches today simply don't want to think about how Scripture addresses their pet beliefs.  In essence, they create their own "Scripture."  I was involved in a conversation last week on a blog where the author spent a great amount of words telling everyone what he believed and what we should believe as a church about a particular belief.  There was not any Scripture listed but quite a lot of I believe, I think, I....  I asked him about Scriptural support for his beliefs and said he would be much more effective in bringing others to that point of view if he would simply show us where he got that in Scripture.  My post was deleted without comment!  Sigh!  Unfortunately, many Christians do not know why they believe what they believe and cannot tell you where Scripture addresses their beliefs. 

CPHurst's picture

I cannot tell you how many times I hear Bible study leaders ask those they are leading, "What does this mean to you," and while waiting for an answer they say, "Now there is no wrong answer to this." 

Like nails scraping on a chalk board to my ears. 

Aaron Blumer's picture


... they are trying to draw out responses for discussion, which has its place. But there are better ways to do this without "mean to you" lingo. When you're warming up to a topic, asking for impressions where the right view is hard to determine, or making applications, that sort of Q & A has merit. But I never use the phrase "mean to you" because I don't want to obscure the different between finding the meaning that is inherently there vs. forming opinions.

A big gap in our bibliology has been teaching a sound process for getting from words on the page to "practical application." We're so eager to shortcut to the practical stuff. But it all has to start with a strong conviction that humbly seeking the unchanging meaning that is already there is job 1... and strong conviction that work is required and there are no harmless shortcuts.

yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (ESV, Proverbs 2:3–5)  

Bert Perry's picture

Just, Amen.  It's really hard to avoid the temptation to enshrine your own biases as if they were Scripture.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.