Why I Stopped Asking Is This Biblical

First of all don’t panic.

I’m not going to tell you to throw your Bible out or anything in this blog. I just want to talk briefly about the words “biblical” and “unbiblical.”

You see we often hear people saying “well that’s not biblical” to discredit things or stating “well it’s biblical” to support something they believe or do.

This buzzword biblical is used a lot. And it’s used in a whole host of ways. Some more legitimate than others.

But what we can say for sure is that what falls into the category of biblical is more of a grey area than black and white.

Sure, some things are laid out nice and black and white in the Bible…

But if we are honest, there is enough in the Bible that we can make it support a lot of pretty terrible things!

In fact, a simple cursory look at history shows this very well. We’ve had genocides, rapes, murders, slavery and all sorts of other things done with a defense of “its biblical!”

This is the trouble for Christians, for the last few hundred years our benchmark on what is permissible or not has been “is it biblical?”

One may think the Bible says one thing and another might totally disagree!

A different way to read the text

So I’d like to propose a different benchmark for Christians.

You see, while I love my Bible and don’t plan to stop reading it ever, there is a higher authority in the Christian’s life.

The Word of God – now before you go saying the Bible is the Word of God I recommend you go read this post which explains in depth why that is not the case or watch some of the videos I have on this topic over on The Grace Course.

Jesus is the Word of God.

He said to those who had dedicated their lives to reading the scriptures that they had read it so wrong they couldn’t even recognize when God was standing in front of them chatting to them.

You see Jesus is our interpretation of the scriptures. He brings everything into a clearer picture. If the Bible is a jigsaw puzzle, Jesus is the picture on the box. He is the exact image of God…the Bible is a shadowy picture of God. It is Jesus that gives us the capacity to find God in the pages.

Making things much more simple

So I’ve a new question. One that helps clear up things a whole bunch.

It’s simple really.

My new question is no longer “is it biblical?” now its, “is it Christ-like?”

You see if it’s Christ-like then it is the fulfillment of scripture.

But many things can look biblical on the surface but on closer examination be revealed as not Christ-like at all.

You might be able to promote a genocide using the Bible. But you are going to have a very hard time promoting genocide using Christ.

Of course, there is still room for subjectivity. There always is. If you are involved… and God does so love for you to be involved… then there will be subjectivity. But the red letters of Jesus are a lot less open to misinterpretation than the whole breadth of scripture!

So I’m challenging you to join me in a new benchmark of what it is to be Christian…stop asking “is it biblical?” and instead ask “is it Christ-like?”

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  1. It’s interesting to me that when we say something is “Biblical” it’s usually our interpretation of what the Bible is saying. I know, I’ve been there and been very guilty of that. I just wrote a blog on “How Saying ‘The Bible Says’ Can Be Dangerous”. I talk about how we weaponize the Bible to prove our points. Again, I am guilty! Thank God, we are learning to change the lens through which we see things.

  2. In my experience Christ-like is subjective. What is Christ-like in your understanding?

    In another blog you write: “We are called to be Christ-like” but I would be interested to know what is that statement based upon?

    • Yes, it very much is. Unfortunately that’s the point. Everything is subjective. Literally everything you have ever thought, done, read, heard, seen etc. is subjective. When we open the Bible and read the words of Jesus it’s subjective. Heck even before it gets to our eyes its subjective. Like Mark and Luke record the instances slightly differently based on what they saw, or what spoke to them / impacted them the most, or what they wanted their audience to read. Subjectivity is in it all. Ultimately there is no escape from that. We can but be aware of it, pray about it, ask Holy Spirit to break us out of it to some degree (but your relationship with Holy Spirit is subjective, just as the boy who says Holy Spirit told him to “ask out that girl” and the girl who was told by Holy Spirit “don’t say yes!” ;) ), we can rely on tradition to help us somewhat as well as community which often can break us out of individual subjectivity into societal subjectivity.

      All that to say, yes you are very right but I don’t know if there is a good answer for that, other than being aware of it and applying the elements above and trust God will help us out.

      The best resource I know of for trying to build a framework for what is Christ-like and how to in turn read the Bible in a Christ-like way is Michael Hardin’s – The Jesus Driven Life – it’s a phenomenal resource and probably the book I recommend the most to people.

      How do you think we can derive a concept of Christ-like despite our subjectivity?

  3. Thank you for your speedy reply and I agree everything is subjective.
    I would though appreciate an answer to my further two questions.

    What is Christ-like in your understanding?

    In another blog you write: “We are called to be Christ-like” but I would be interested to know what is that statement based upon?

    • Hi Jim,

      I doubt I can encapsulate what my view of Christ-like looks like here in any satisfactory way as, as we discussed it will still be left subjective.

      For example I think Christ-like is embodied (partly) in the fruits of the Spirit… but to say to be loving it to be Christ-like is great.

      But to one Christian to be loving to a gay person is to accept their sexuality and celebrate it. To another Christian to be loving is to accept the homosexual but require them to suppress it. And to another Christian to be loving is to reject the homosexual unless they can completely reject that identity themselves.

      So which is loving?

      My point being when I say Christ-like we think two different things, but even when I say,,, OK, I mean loving, kind, patient, gracious, non-violent etc. etc. It’s still entirely up in the air how we might apply those phrases.

      Does that make sense? I’m not trying to avoid your question – I have to a degree answered it… but I’ve also highlighted that the answer itself is fraught with issues because what one might think when we say something like loving or non-violent can be radically different.

  4. In Ge 3:5 NIV the temptation was to be ‘God-like’. The only person to be God-like was Jesus hence my dilemma. Am I to eat from the tree of knowledge to be Christ-like or from the tree of life to experience the life of Christ expressed through me.

    A gay person and three loving Christians but ‘which is loving’? Only one of them, but who am I to judge unless that I eat from the tree of knowledge.

    God is love and the fruit of the Spirit is the expression of the qualities and attributes of the love of God. The fruit of the Spirit has ‘the Seed’ at its centre. The fruit of the Spirit is just that, it is the Spirit’s fruit not mine or anyone else’s as I understand it. I cannot express what is not mine however I can be a channel if so inspired and empowered.

    You write ‘we are called to be Christ-like’ but does that place expectations on people and burden the imperfect with the perfection found in Christ.

    • To me the temptation in Gen 3 was to be God-like through morality when they were already God-like in their identity. They had already been made in the image and likeness of God.

      So yes, I think you are right, when our attempt to become Christ-like is rooted in morality and attempt to know and then do the right/wrong things we get ourselves in trouble. Rather when we know who we are (full of Christ) being “Christ-like” is much less about knowing what is right and doing it and what is wrong and avoiding it… it’s about being our true selves and walking with God in the ever present moment.

      The only person I put an expectation on when I say “we are called to be Christ-like” is myself. I am called to look like Christ. So are you… but I can’t make you accept who you are and live it. I can focus on accepting who I am and living it though :)

  5. Sorry Phil, I am a little confused. You write ‘I think Christ-like is embodied (partly) in the fruits of the Spirit’ and then ‘it’s about being our true selves and walking with God in the ever present moment.’ Which is it, have I missed something?

    You also say, ‘I am called to look like Christ. So are you’. Do you mean as a new creation we are created/made in the image of Christ? If that’s what you mean I whole heartedly agree. I do know our identity in Christ.

    However, this seems to going away from the original blog post which you put forward a premise of rendering the word ‘biblical’ redundant to be replaced by ‘is it Christ_like?’ I am perplexed by the three explanations you give for what ‘Christ-like’ actually is and an understanding of the statement in the context of your blog.

    • Are those things diametrically opposed? Can it not be both (and a whole lot more?)

      In the context of this blog it’s about how we read the Bible. Which is why I recommended resources that help us understand how Christ read His scriptures… that’s the best way to approach Christ-like in this situation… The best resource is the book I recommended above Michael Hardin’s The Jesus Driven Life . I do also recommend if you don’t want to buy a book and have to read it, my video series “Is God Really Good?” Specifically the video on “How Jesus read the scriptures.” You can find that series on Youtube or on thegracecourse.com

      Ultimately the phrase “Christ-like” is applied in many ways in many contexts. But in this case – I want to find a God that looks like Jesus. And read the scriptures as Jesus reads them. How you go about putting those two together is your path and choice, but I would recommend some of those resources as excellent places to start.

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