Whose Message Is That?

Imagine going to a Bible class or listening to a sermon where the Scriptures are never consulted. Instead, a story like Little Red Riding Hood or perhaps a current event is used to illustrate a principle such as: telling the truth is rewarding or following evil ways will get you into trouble. While we might agree that these principles are good, whose message is that? Would it not seem like the preacher or teacher simply picked out of the air what he considered to be “a good idea” and then looked until he found a suitable story to illustrate his belief?

Possibly you will agree with me that this would be a spiritually anemic manner to teach a Bible class or preach a sermon. But what would you think about someone employing a biblical story such as Gideon to encourage using “a fleece” to determine God’s will? If this is not the intended message of the author, then whose message is that?

Would not such a use of scripture be methodologically identical to never even opening the Bible? If the message being taught is simply some notion which the teacher thinks is worthy, then why even feign that the message comes from the text? Will not contemporary stories work just as well?

At least in my mind, there is a huge difference between using Biblical stories to illustrate a lesson clearly taught in Scripture and compiling a bunch of stories to illustrate a principle without showing that the Bible teaches that principle. Why?

1) There is no guarantee that the message being presented will teach what God desires. Is not such a message based upon whatever the teacher considers to be a good idea?
2) Does this not obfuscate that the class is not really a Bible class but actually a diet of the teacher’s own ideas?
3) Even if the teacher has a good biblical knowledge, how is the student going to grow in learning how to accurately understand God’s Word?

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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