Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

irksome bible thumping



The irking thing about the way many people use the Bible is the apparent superficiality of that use. Too often we experience those in the church who address some complex question by simply quoting or referencing half a dozen widely scattered verses as if that settles everything. In this approach, they summarily dismiss everything that we would normally require in trying to really understand a text:  context, continuity, completeness, validity, implications, linguistic nuances, reasonableness, and logical consistency. Merely establishing what the words are without truly looking for their meaning is meaningless. It is like hearing a foreign a language. They convey nothing and therefore do not enlighten at all.


Instead of dealing with the Bible as we would any other source of information, the church wants to treat it like a book of magical incantations. Speak these words over the sinner and "poof" he can be transformed or at least properly instructed in righteousness. The common insistence, that the Bible proves itself to be inerrant and infallible and must be literally understood, is a major part of this superficiality. Such thinking directly contributes to the idea that isolated verses can stand alone and impart complete and undeniable truth.


The church, which supports and practices this kind of Bible usage, claims for itself the right and responsibility to instruct mankind in righteousness. On any other subject, the instructors would encourage the prospective students to think long and hard about the material being presented and to ask questions about the ramifications and application of what is being taught. To be effective, we generally understand that instructions must be thorough and comprehensive. That takes time, both on the part of the instructor and the student. Memorizing facts is no substitute for spending the time to analyze and truly understand how those facts matter and how to use them meaningfully.


The very liturgical format that we have inherited from the institutional church makes a mockery of their claim to be divinely appointed instructors. How long would it take for the preacher to adequately cover the message of a 2000 page Bible when he is limited to two or three 45 minute lessons per week. How much learning will take place when the format of the service and the church's own doctrine discourage questions? The entire functioning of the institutional church is diametrically opposed to the idea of meaningful instruction.


A lost humanity is actually desperate for the truth. The opportunity is there. The church says they have that truth, but they are not willing and able to deal with firmly establishing and actually teaching the truth. The truth does not need the protection and maintenance of church. Instead, the church needs to contribute to an honest dialogue on spirituality and the associated truth. To do that they would need to stop insisting on their past as the measure of the future.