When you are so “biblical” that you are unChristian

Erik Raymond —  April 18, 2012

We all have blind spots. We have our issues. Whether we are talking about personal, social, or theological blind spots, we have them. And to say you don’t, is to, well, make my point.

The important thing for us to look for said weaknesses, identify them and replace them. This is living life as a fallen sinner it is reality.

But sometimes our blind spots are our hobby horses. And this is a problem.

I can remember arguing about abortion with a friend who is pro-choice. In the midst of the discussion (it was civil) he called me out on my flippancy concerning life in the various wars that the US is involved in. He had a point. My issue was inconsistent. I had a blind spot.

Outspoken Bible Guys
I think there are people who are outspoken in their passion and devotion to the Bible. They are proponents of taking the Bible literally, being black or white and trying their best to obey what it says. We might call them evangelicals, fundamentalists, or simply Protestants. There really are many names and stripes available.

These guys (and ladies) will rightly go after those who compromise the Scriptures. They call out those who deny the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy. They oppose people who inject their ministries with pragmatic methods. They decry the moral compromise in and around the professing church. All of this to say, no one would accuse them of being unbiblical. In fact, this is their cry, “we are just being biblical.”

And quite frankly, I praise God for many of these folks. They are an encouragement in so many ways.

But at the same time, too often, they are a discouragement.

How is this possible?

Assuming the Gospel
It is possible because too often these hard core biblicists simply assume the gospel. Jesus is not emphasized as the means and motivation for rightesouness. Instead Christianity becomes a laboratory to apply biblical principles. Sanctification is rooted in a striving to do and be better.

Slowly but surely Jesus, his dying and doing for sinners, gets benched for my living and doing for God.

You can tell you are in one of these settings when you listen to Christians pray (cf Luke 18). They often talk about how bad everyone else is vs how bad they are. They talk about how much better they want to be rather than how great Christ is. The gospel may receive a hat tip but it is not the great ocean that satisfies our thirsty hearts and supplies our tears. It is just assumed. There is a lot of ‘God-talk’, ‘Bible-talk’…but very little Jesus-gospel-sin–talk.

Painful Irony
There is a painfully ironic contradiction here. See, on the one hand you have the hard-core, committed, Bible-guy…he is sold out to the Bible. And he will quickly channel his ‘inner-Saul’ and chuck spears at anyone who is not on the same page with him (1Sam 18.10-11). After all, they are compromisers. These are the guys who have conferences, watch-blogs, and sermons dedicated to taking out famous gospel-editors and biblical compromisers.

But here is the irony: too often the most ‘biblical’ folks are the most ‘unbiblical’. What do I mean by this? I mean that if the whole point of the Bible is the person and work of Jesus and you fail to make this your whole point in your life, preaching, writing, conferences, etc…then you have missed the point! And, in this case, your blind spot is glaring. You are undermining yourself!! These folks are so ‘biblical’ that they are unChristian!

I am not talking about semantics here. This is far bigger than this. Remember, it was the hard-core biblicists that had a jacked up Christology and ended up killing Jesus. If you are reading the Old Testament like a 1st Century Jew then you have a veil upon your eyes (2 Cor. 3). And if you are using Jesus to be your vehicle towards morality then you are just like the Galatians.

Our whole lives are to be calibrated by and anchored in the gospel. It is this that is of first importance (1 Cor. 15.1-3). To assume it, marginalize it, eclipse it, or ignore it IS just as bad as editing it.

How much do you emphasize the person and work of Christ? If you are a pastor, could your sermons be preached by a Muslim? a Roman Catholic? a Jew? or any other ‘moral’ monotheist? Or worse, could a Mormon preach your sermons?

If we are preaching the doing and dying of Jesus and not just a bunch of principles anchored in a moral code then you would offend them. But if you are not then be sure, you are offending God.

(repost from 2010)

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

7 responses to When you are so “biblical” that you are unChristian

  1. I like this essay, it illustrates the maxim that, sometimes the best literature a person reads is often, at the same time, the most internally troublesome. It is my hope that if this essay/article bothers you–even slightly–then you will embrace Erik’s message.
    Dave G

  2. “Remember, it was the hard-core biblicists that had a jacked up Christology and ended up killing Jesus.”

    Nice post Erik. Excellent really. Thnak you my fine pastor-brother.

    I had an argument with my older sister Mary on Easter, that had a mixture of this blind spot thing. It was about the OT. She says they were just stories, and I jumped all over that.

    Thank You Lord for Erik. Bless him with Your love and joy, and guard his heart and mind with Your peace. Amen.

  3. Very convicting.This message does bother me. I cannot ignore it. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Who were these “hard-core biblicists” who killed Jesus? Are you talking about the Sadducees who denied the Resurrection and rejected much of the OT? Or are you talking about the Pharisees who set aside the commandments of God and held to the traditions of men?

    Where did Christ (or anyone else) ever rebuke anyone for being “too Biblical” or “so ‘biblical’ that they are unChristian”?

    This post seems to me a watch-blog warning about the watch-blogs…. :)

  5. Kirby L. Wallace April 24, 2012 at 2:51 am

    A thoughtful post. But I kept wondering, “Who are these guys he’s talking about?” Most folks I know that would get the “watch blogger treatment” have a legitimate point to make. And they are usually not calling out people would would put Octavius Winslow on the “must read list”.

    You did not really give any examples of the sort of person you are refering to, which gives the impression that you are refering to anyone who has any word of warning for the church, at all.

  6. “(or anyone else)”-Jon

    How about Paul the Apostle:

    “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

    (Galatians 2:11-13 ESV)

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