Reclaiming Scripture

Hard teachings call for humility and submission

Nov 7, 2016 by

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We Anabaptists often say “Jesus is the center of our faith” when describing our distinctive beliefs. In addition to explaining how Jesus is our example for daily living, we use this statement to describe our Christ-centered interpretation of the Bible — the idea that the point of the Bible is to reveal Jesus, who is the fullest revelation of God to us.

A Christ-centered view of Scripture helps us keep our focus on the heart of the good news: reconciliation with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet this emphasis on the gospels can make it easier for us to downplay the apostolic instruction in the rest of the New Testament.

In “An Appeal for Healing and Hope for the Future of Mennonite Church USA from Younger Church Leaders,” the writers advocate several areas in which the denomination can seek spiritual transformation. This statement appears on page 3 of the document: “The earliest Anabaptists emphasized the authority of Scripture. The Scriptures were not intended to teach us only how to think about God, but how to live our daily lives.”

Elsewhere in the document, the phrases “Bible teaching” or “biblical teaching” appear a few times, and page 4 contains an acknowledgment that diverse perspectives will at times result in conflicting interpretations.

This raises the question: Do Anabaptists today emphasize the authority of Scripture, particularly the New Testament, enough?

We must approach apostolic teaching with a spirit of humility and submission, rather than with an arrogant denial of a difficult teaching’s relevance or a hasty “Jesus never said anything about this” dismissal of an uncomfortable passage.

Any Christian denomination or congregational network serious about revival must begin with a commitment to the New Testament as authoritative for faith and practice. All its teaching is inspired and preserved by God for us, and God’s Spirit — whom Jesus sent to us — will always direct us toward it.

Our sense of right and wrong must be influenced by Scripture — not the other way around. Do we have the humility to submit our viewpoints and sensibilities to God’s instructions, even if they displease our flesh? If we do, it is the first step toward the spiritual transformation we say we seek.

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