Monday, May 24, 2010

"I Know What the Bible Says, But..."

I'll never forget the time I heard someone say, "I know what the bible says, but..."

A few years ago, while I was attending seminary, I had the opportunity to preach for a church whose pastor was on vacation. I arrived at the building on Sunday morning and was greeted by some very nice folks. As was expected, I was given about 30 minutes to speak to them. Everything was fine.

After the service, one of the deacons and his wife took me out for lunch. We had a good conversation, the food was good, and (bonus) he picked up the bill.

Despite all this, what really sticks out for me is what he said at one point during the meal. We were talking about their church and, specifically, their deacons. He told me that they have ladies serving as deacons. Then he said, "I know what the bible says, but..." He then went on to justify ladies serving as deacons based on pragmatic reasons.

My point in this post is NOT to debate whether or not women should serve as deacons. I know there is a lot involved in that discussion.

Rather, my point is that this man, who I'm sure has good intentions, based his view on women deacons on pragmatics. He actually believes that their church is violating scripture but that this is somehow acceptable because it works.

It is easy to fault this man. Instead of doing that, let's take a hard look at our own lives. How often do we say we believe one thing but then live another way? How many times do we believe the bible says one thing, but then turn around and do the opposite? How many times do we do things just because "they work"?

Most Christians say they believe the bible. Most say they believe the bible is our final authority. We all say these things. But do we really believe it?

If we dare, let's take a hard look at our lives to see where we are in reality saying, "I know what the bible says, but..."


Aussie John said...


Very timely!

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that one.....

But how well we can "obey" Scripture which shows other believers in a negative light (revealing sin, bad habits etc.), and how vigorously we will pursue the issue to our own satisfaction.

Of course, pragmatism is the catalyst for our ability to see that the sin of the other is always worse than our own, despite what Scripture says.

Eric said...


I'm not sure about Australia, but in the USA whatever "works" is what is approved and championed. Sadly, this directly impacts the church in many ways. It is also justifies sin. I'm sure I am as guilty of this as anyone.