bits from bob....

General or Specific?

by Robert J. Young
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

One indicator of the religious climate of today's world is in the current promotion of a new "generalized" Bible. In the name of cultural connectivity, ease of communication, and political correctness, the new generalized Bible supposedly appeals to more and more people. What no one seems to want to say in our postmodern world is that the Bible is not only being generalized, but that it is being relativized, humanized, and eviscerated, even emasculated. A generalized Bible can only speak generally of a general God with a general word for general situations.

My question is this: how can one read and understand the specific commands of God in a generalized Bible? Doesn't generalizing the Bible make specific commands general? Will fruit of the vine eventually become any beverage of choice? Will unleavened bread be generalized? Will repentance be satisfied with some momentary feelings of general remorse?

Most of us are doing a pretty good job of generalizing the Bible without any additional help. We have generalized "not forsaking the assembling of yourselves" to apply to Sunday morning assemblies only, and providential hindrance covers most causes of absenteeism, even visits by non-Christian family and weekends at the beach. Go make disciples of the nations doesn't seem a primary motivation among many churches and Christians I know. We have generalized a Christian lifestyle to include vulgar movies and extravagant, wasteful materialism. We have generalized life-long commitments in the context of Christian marriage to overlook not one, but four or five, false starts. In some camps, the essentiality of baptism for salvation seems to be in doubt, and any specific word from God regarding worship seems to have been lost.

Generalization is only a less threatening word for relativization. In a world where the common knowledge is that intelligent people, informed people, and thinking people no longer see the Bible as a divinely given, literal, inerrant expression of an objective truth from a God who literally exists with a clear Creator-claim on our lives, what else could one expect? We could expect that Christians would not be so duped. We could expect that Christians would honor the God-breathed, inspired, authoritative word of God as it is indeed, the very word of God. That would means that we could expect that Christians would pursue a different way of life, because we not only believe the specific word of God, but are committed to obeying it.

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Last updated February 5, 2002.