Some time ago, I heard about a best-selling book becoming a major motion picture with one of Hollywood’s Oscar-winning icons playing the leading role.
That would normally not be something that would pique my interest, except for the fact that the book was a fictional attempt to undermine Christian teachings. I don’t want to give any publicity at all to the book or the movie, so they shall remain nameless.
But the author of the book, while claiming to be accurate and factual in the historical details of the book, had taken a great deal of liberty with not only the facts as they actually exist, but also with his own interpretation of those facts.
He claimed that Jesus was not really God, but that the whole “God”-thing with Jesus was a concoction of the fourth century “church.” The early church fathers, according to this author, decided they needed to create a story about Jesus’ divinity for the whole of their power base to be consolidated, and for their political control to be solidified.
According to this author, Jesus was not God, but was elevated to deity by one of the early church convocations.
About the same time that I first read this book, I heard from a pastor friend who emailed me with the details of a recent letter he had received. He had just had a major outreach event for his church: they rented a theater to show the film “The Passion of the Christ.”
The day after their big event, while still blown away by the love and compassion and sacrifice made by Jesus in dying for our sins, my friend received a letter that had been mass-mailed to every household in his community. One of the local churches in the area was seeking to attract new members through this mass-mail technique.
In this letter, they listed the ways they were unique. They said that first of all they had “No religious dogma — We encourage the freedom of individual thought and belief. A humanist view of life — Our faith is based on celebrating the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”
Secondly, this church claimed to have a “Warm, accessible services — Our Sunday services … typically include a mix of readings, music, moments of meditation or contemplation, and a sermon …”
Third, they touted “Our children’s religious education program —We teach our kids to be accepting of differing beliefs and the importance of each person seeking his or her own truth. They study the world’s major religions and draw on the core values of each faith tradition …”
And the letter concluded with the following inviting statement: “So if you’re looking for a congregation that cherishes freedom of belief and opinion, with a warm sense of community and fellowship, please visit us!”
The contrast between the film and the mass-mailed letter was outstanding. In the words of this pastor, “I had watched the horrific suffering of Jesus and heard him say, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’
“Hours later I opened an invitation to visit a group where truth doesn’t matter. The contrast was overwhelming.”
We live in a day and age when the question of what is the truth doesn’t seem to matter. All that really matters in our culture today is that everyone “feels good.” Everything in our culture, including truth, is relative. It all depends upon how the experience works out.
The problem with that is that it makes all truth relative to how we feel or what our experience tells us is right. There are no absolutes in this way of thinking.
It is a lot like the police officer who was walking his beat down a street one night when he came upon a young man who was crawling on his hands and knees and diligently searching for something. The police officer got down on his hands and knees and began to search as well, asking the young man as he knelt what he was searching for.
“My car keys,” was the reply. In the course of continuing to search for the young fellow’s car keys, the officer asked him where he thought they might be. He was totally taken aback when the fellow pointed off in a direction and said, “Oh, I know they are over there somewhere.”
“Well then, why are we looking over here.”
“Because this is where the light is!”
Things are relative, depending upon how we feel or “where the light is!”
In contrast to that, we have people in our circles who call us preachers to be “men on one book.” And when they say that, they mean the Bible is the book.
Oswald Chambers tells the story of a fellow who would only read the Bible and books associated with it. Chambers told him, “My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight. When people refer to a man as a ‘man of one book,’ meaning the Bible, he is generally found to be a man of multitudinous books, which simply isolates the one Book to its proper grandeur. The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.”
Whether we are talking about a film that is based upon a fictional novel, a church that is based upon a feel-good mentality, or simply coming to grips with our own culturally relevant worldview, the Bible is our source of absolute truth, and we must give it preference and priority in our lives.
Be … Become the man (or woman) of one book!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at email@example.com.