At first I wanted this to be a post about honesty with the biblical text but the more I thought about it the more I thought that the real underlying issue was a need to talk about scriptural authority. In life the pendulum swings back and forth from generation to generation. If you have an out of control alcoholic father you may well turn out to be a perfectionistic person with a high need for control in your life. The same can be said about shifting views on how people see the authority of scripture.
In the past scripture has been seen as the ulitimate authority. We said we “Speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where it is silent.” We have prided ourselves on being without creeds and all the rest. Past generations have had a high respect for the Bible as the sole source of authority and saw ministers as authority figures/figures of respect in the community.That is slowly deteriorating as scandal gives room for rationalizing an attitude toward ministers as a whole. As with all pendulums, once it swings hard one direction it will inevitably swing back again.
The Bible being seen as a source of authority in our lives is deteriorating in the coming generations. Due to busy schedules, lack of study, cultural and moral influences, scripture is taking a back seat in the amount of influence it exerts on people’s lives to so many other factors. Starting with the Baby Boomer generation through today, authority is seen as a negative rather than a positive. People fail to see the positives and health in boundaries. People are trusting ministers less and the world more. People are beginning to emphasize the cultural aspects of scripture in an effort to trivialize the whole thing. In a push for cultural and moral relativity we are left with no anchors but ultimately the pendulum will eventually move toward the middle as people look for some place solid to land.
Where are we headed? What bridges can we build ahead of time to help maintain a healthy respect for God and his word? It seems to me like we are going to have to be very patient with the generation that is on the way as they wrestle with issues that seem very fundamental and simple to us. It also seems to me like there are some healthy things they will learn very quickly that we have never quite gotten a grasp on. Some battles are worth fighting for and keeping a healthy respect for the importance of scripture is one of them. We just need to learn from how past generations used and abused that concept and try hard not to make the same mistakes twice.