All Christians must answer a very important question: “Is the Bible God’s word to mankind, or is it mankind’s word about God?”
Some folks think it doesn’t really matter. They say the Bible offers some good advice, and regardless of who actually wrote it, the important thing is to recognize this advice and apply it to our lives when appropriate. However, this is a very naïve approach. If the Bible is simply mankind’s word about God, then we are free to pick and choose the parts we like, and ignore the rest. After all, the human authors of the Bible who lived two- and three-thousand years ago didn’t know the important things we know today. For example, not a single one of them ever earned a degree in Gender Studies from an Ivy League College.
If the Bible contains the spiritual musings of certain ancient men, however smart they might have been, then it can be compared to clothing fashions. In the past, people truly thought it was stylish to wear huge powdered wigs. That was the epitome of culture and class during a certain time in history. Another example is my high school yearbook from 1975. A quick perusal of the fashions we thought were stylish can cause such spasms of laughter you likely will pull a ribcage muscle.
If the Bible is just mankind’s word about God, then there really is no transcendent AUTHORITY behind it. The word “authority,” by the way, is derived from the word “author.” If the authors of the Bible were mere men, the biblical writings may strike some people as wise or interesting or exciting or comforting, but the writings ultimately are merely human words, not super-human divine words.
A lot of folks these days, including many faithful church-going folks, are convinced the Bible is a collection of interesting human-authored writings. They do not believe God Almighty inspired the authors. You can usually tell which church denominations believe the Bible was written by mere humans: they are the groups that promote abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and all the other trendy causes that conflict with the clear pronouncements of Scripture.
However, if the Bible is indeed God’s word to mankind, that is, if God inspired the biblical authors to include in the text exactly what He wanted, then we cannot ignore the parts we don’t like. For instance, when the Bible quotes God Himself as saying, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” we cannot claim abortion is perfectly fine and no different than having an appendix removed.
When Jesus said, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” we cannot claim that same-sex marriage is a wonderful thing and conforms to God’s will. (Nor can we say some of the other weird things I’ve heard of late, such as: “Obviously the person who actually put those words in Jesus’ mouth decades after the fact was steeped in the hateful heteronormative patriarchy of his primitive culture, and therefore should be vigorously denounced!” My goodness. Some ideas are just so goofy only an Ivy League professor could promote them with a straight face.)
So think deeply about this question: Who authored the Bible, God or mankind? If the answer is God, then Scripture is a rock solid guide for our lives. But if the answer is mankind, then Scripture has no real authority and instead we are free to embrace the latest trendy causes — causes that future generations will consider to be just as dumb as powdered wigs and my 1975 bell-bottoms.