For those of us who were raised in Christianity, growing up we were often taught the importance of developing a “biblical” worldview and living “biblically.” Even as our childhoods come to a close, we’re often told that we should go to specific Christian schools or colleges so that we can prepare for the workforce while also solidifying that “biblical” world view we’re supposed to carry with us through life.
I see and hear the term every day in a variety of contexts.
It’s as if the term “biblical” is some code-word that signifies rightness, correctness, or purity, in a way that nothing else can. It’s as if there is no higher authority, that the “name above all names” to distinguish right from wrong, is “biblical.”
Now, don’t mistake what I’m about to say– I am a Christian. A committed, devoted Christian– and I have been for more years of my life than I have not been.
But… and here’s the kicker: I’m not interested in having a “biblical worldview” or even in following the Bible.
This isn’t to say I don’t love the Bible; I do. I believe the Bible is “inspired” and “useful” just as the New Testament claims.
It’s just that the Christian life is not about developing a “biblical” worldview or following the Bible– the Christian life is all about Jesus. And, I have to be honest: those two things don’t always align in harmony.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over wide spans of time, from a variety of different cultures, and penned by a wide array of people– from kings and death row inmates. One can find many different ethics, examples, and world-views, all of which could be rightly considered “biblical.” However, the fact they may be “biblical” doesn’t mean they line up with the teachings and example of Jesus.
The divine unfolding of the Old Testament is a long and winding road that ultimately lands us at the feet of Jesus– and that’s the entire point. The goal has never been to follow the Bible, or to be more like the Bible– the goal has always been for us to follow and to become more like Jesus.
We do not follow the “biblical” laws that commanded stoning people to death, burning people alive, condoned slavery, or that commanded sacrificing animals to God. We follow Jesus– the one who taught us that if we are not without sin we’d better put that stone down, that we are to love our neighbors as ourself, and that God doesn’t desire sacrifice at all.
We do not embrace the “biblical” teaching of the author of Ecclesiastes who wrote that all of life is “completely meaningless,” but instead we look to Jesus as an example of all that God is doing in the human story, and how we are invited to participate in that narrative of beauty, purpose, and direction.
We do not emulate the “biblical” example of violent warriors like Joshua who believed that God’s calling was to slay his enemies. We follow the teachings and example of Jesus who taught us to love our enemies, to do good to them, and to not use violence against them.
We do not obey the biblical command to take an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth– we follow Jesus who directly told us to defy that law and follow a higher one.
No, my fellow Christians: The goal was never for us to have a “biblical” worldview, to follow the Bible, or to be more like the Bible.
The goal has always been for us to meet Jesus, and to follow him.
Saying that is not an assault on the Bible, and it is not heresy– to see it as such is a great example of how divorced we as Christians have become from the reality that Christianity is about following Jesus, and nothing else.
When Jesus began his ministry and called his disciples, he did not say “come, sit down and let us memorize Leviticus together.” Instead, he simply said, “Come, follow me.”
When Jesus taught the crowds, he did not say “the one who hears the words of Joshua and puts them into practice is like the wise man…” but said, “The one who hears my words and puts them into practice is like the wise man…”
When Jesus encountered the biblical scholars of his time, he did not commend them and then send them away so they could focus on following it. He actually rebuked them and told them that even though the knew the Bible backwards and forwards, they had missed the entire point of it all: following him.
And in that glorious moment we call the transfiguration? Well, in that moment the disciples put Jesus on equal footing with authors from the Old Testament– until the voice of God redirected them with the emphatic words: “This is my son– listen to him!”
Yes, I am a committed Christian– as much as I can imagine one being a committed Christian.
But no, I’m not interested in having a “biblical” worldview or following the Bible.
Instead, I just want to be more and more like Jesus as I strive to follow him each day… because that’s always been the point of it all.
It’s always been about Jesus. It always will be.
And I refuse to let anything get in the way of that– even the Bible itself.
My new book, Unafraid, deals with this topic and so much more. Start reading the first chapter right here!
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So glad I found your blog. Keep up the good fight.
The whole “living biblically” thing is why I don’t call myself a Christian as much as I call myself a Jesus follower. I try to always keep my eyes on Him. No matter how much I read the Gospels, there is always something that jumps out at me anew when I study them. I really want to see Jesus and talk to Him in person. He is THAT compelling. Do I succeed? I fall short all the time. But I know I must keep my eyes and heart on Jesus.
To the article writer:
Do you not know how to differentiate between what God sent Joshua(interestingly enough also said as ‘Jesus’) to do to take the ‘Promised Land’ that Godgave to Israel versus what God sent Jesus to accomplish in accordance with the Law that God gave Israel? Do you know that Jesus will come back and exercise some ‘violence’ just as even Joshua did under God’s instruction? Did you miss the account in Joshua 5 where that angel showed up and spoke with Joshoua before Joshua knew who this ‘man’ was?
While you cited Ecclesiastes, did you miss the verse in there where it said there are times for this and times for that? Meaning sometimes there is a time for the use of war and violence and at other times it is time ofor peace even extended peace? Take for instance the kingship of David compared to that of David’s son Solomon. Is Solomon not responsible for the inspired writitngs of even the book of Ecclesiastes?
I also do want to point out that the same Joshua you pointed to as be ‘violent, how old was he before he took the lead over Israel and carried out this war violence that Jehovah sent him to do? He was about 80 years old wasn’t he? How much violence do you recall him carrying out before this if he was so inclined to do violence according to his own will? What does Jehovah say about those who ‘love violence’?
I think the real point of the overall Biblical ‘worldview’ is that Jehovah alone is the only true God and that He is Sovereign and to be obeyed over men who live in contradiction to Jesus and Jehovah the Father of Jesus.
Also, Jesus*(*meaning ‘Jehovah Is Salvation’*)* is most likely the same angel=messenger that showed up quite a number of times in the OT seen over and over as ‘the angel of Jehovah’. Why should that be difficult to accept when we all already know that Jesus existed before com to this earth in the form of a human?
Yeah, this is the reason people come here, to get away from people like you.
Fundamentalist Evangelism was born in the American South to provide a Biblical justification for slavery. The toxic theology that results from embracing a Crime Against Humanity gave us Secession, Civil War and Jim Crow.
Shown “the way” by Jerry Falwell, televangelists found anti-gay hate and anti-abortion to be a better cash cow than racism, and so they exported weaponized Bible-thumping to the rest of the country in the 70s.
The new generation of Evangelical “leaders” like Franklin Graham and Falwell, Jr. are even more corrupt and hate-filled than their predecessors – so corrupt that they can claim a pathologically dishonest and crooked whore-monger with aspirations to be a dictator is somehow the Christian choice for the presidency.
Evangelism needs to get back to its honorable roots when they could boast of great Christians like Roger Williams who founded Rhode Island as a slavery-free colony with freedom of and from religion for everybody.
But is it possible?
I’m with you. The corruption in modern American Evangelicalism is frightening, especially considering their support of the man who is president. Just when I think they can’t be fooling anyone about who they really are, they come out with more hateful diatribes. The only way to meet their hate is through love. The kind of love Jesus taught. And wow is that difficult.
There is a difference between evangelism and evangelicalism. One is the telling of the good news of Jesus Christ, the other is a sudo-christian religious/political idology that claims a biblical foundation. The two words are very similar and yet there is a world of difference between the two.
This is a bit confusing:”When Jesus began his ministry and called his disciples, he did not say “come, sit down and let us memorize Leviticus together.” Instead, he simply said, “Come, follow me.”
Whether or not Jesus required the new followers to be conversant in Old Testament and Mosaic Law was not necessary because they were probably knowledgeable AND Jesus was there to educate them. This leads me to the question: without reading the bible, how do you know what Jesus expects of you? Where do you get the knowledge to know how to live like Jesus? Did Moroni, who visited Joseph Smith (Mormon) talk to you or maybe like Mohammad (Islam) you heard voices in a cave? Excuse my sarcasm, but without reading Scripture, how do you know?
Because they feature Jesus, the Gospels take precedence. They build on everything that has come before, then completely leave the rest behind. No one is saying “don’t read the Bible.” I think what is important is that we follow Jesus, and do as He commands, rather than make rules for people to follow.
Where did the author say “do not read the Bible”?
What he actually said was “read the Bible, but don’t fetishise it to the point where it eclipses a relationship with God”. The Bible is a sign post. When people want to go to London, do they sit under the sign that points to London, singing songs about London, or do they follow the signs to get to London?
Scripture, the knowing of it, the ability to contradict people who read it in English, because you read it in the original greek or hebrew, has replaced obeying.
And I would take exception to the notion that “God doesn’t want sacrifice at all”. That is not what scripture says – it says “to obey is better than sacrifice”. But it does not forbid sacrifice.
What I hear/read, a lot these days, is an endless parade of heresies – ‘inclusiveness and tolerance’, based on some entirely false idea of what Jesus said and did, has been used to brow beat the church into accepting impurity and sin. To reject a man’s sin is not the same as rejecting the man, but it has been made so by the enemies of the faith.
Then there’s the “all roads lead to God” heresy, in stark contradiction to what Jesus actually said. The gospel of works, the gospel of fear, the gospel of “I can do whatever I want”. The refusal of man to permit God to have moral authority. All are rampant these days.
The devil is always in the details. I think God and Jesus were Buddhists and their statements are a form of koan, a teaching tool. For example, wealth is always relative to economic, political, and social conditions.
Thought experiment: Say every person gave away all excess assets to the poor. It would not take long for the standard of living of the entire population to stabilize to the least common denominator, not the highest possible standard of living. Would the world be more “spiritual” if every person was equally poor? Is this what Jesus commands? How could it be otherwise? God would again undertake the distribution of manna, whatever it was?
This is beautiful. I too wonder if what you describe is the world Jesus envisions.