As a pastor I receive a number of pamphlets and brochures from all sorts of organisations wanting to help the church or wanting the church to invest in their services or products. Some of the brochures are about computer supplies, others are about pews and communion cups, and then there is this group of pamphlets selling different services to the church. I just spotted one this morning; and it was titled resolving conflict biblically.
Resolving conflict biblically. That caught my attention, what does it mean to resolve conflict biblically, what does it mean to do anything biblically? It seems that you can make anything a sure seller if you can do it biblically, it’s almost a guarantee if you can add biblically to your service, “This service is sure to work because it is done biblically”. It’s even better if you can add ‘we do it God’s way’ but we’ll leave God’s way aside for a minute and just stick with doing things biblically.
The question I have is how do we do anything biblically? What is biblical? See often I think these brochures don’t do it biblically, well at least not what I would understand as biblical. I sometimes find that whenever someone claims to do something biblically, or claims to be biblical themselves they often pick and choose which parts of the bible they want to use to back up their biblical-ness while ignoring other equally valid, large parts of Scripture.
In this brochure on the biblical approach to resolving conflict there was a 5 step approach, and each step was justified with a bible verse. Apparently there is only 1 way to resolve conflict and it is their biblical way. But what about other ways, what about other organisations and their approaches to conflict resolution? Are their ways unbiblical, is their only 1 biblical way?
But what constitutes being biblical? What if I created a biblical steak house. Our tag line could be, “We cook a biblical steak-only served well-done.” It’s biblical, it says in Leviticus 19:26 NIV “Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.” Therefore there is only one way to eat a steak, and that is well-done, all the blood cooked out, it’s biblical.
Now I know what you are thinking, “We’re Christians, we don’t need to obey the Old Testament laws, we now have the New Testament.” Ah, but I can counter that argument with this passage from the New Testament, Acts 15:20 NIV “Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.” See the thing is I like a rare steak, and I don’t feel at all guilty for eating it, I don’t think that I am going against the Bible by eating it.
So it seems that just because something is in the Bible it doesn’t make it biblical. So how do we decide what is biblical and what is not, or is it somewhat troublesome to say that anything is biblical at all? Let me come to a point where I present a case and then we’ll see what you think.
In the book of Acts there comes a point when something that was biblical became no longer, intact to a point it became sinful. Circumcision was expected of every believer, that was the law, that was what people had to do in order to become a Christian. But then in chapter 10, Cornelius the Roman centurion receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (a sign of salvation and forgiveness, a sign of Christian faith) without being circumcised. At this point circumcision was no longer a requirement for entry into the Christian community. But how did this come to be? it came to be through the Holy Spirit. I know this may sound a bit heretical, it’s not intended to be, but can the Holy Spirit talk through the scriptures, but also work beyond them? Just like the Holy Spirit was active in Acts working outside of people’s understanding of Scripture, can the Holy Spirit be doing that now?
So see how you go at answering that, but secondly, getting back to our main point, what is there in terms of services and practices that we can claim as truly biblical, and why?