What Ever Happened To The Bible?

What Ever Happened To The Bible? by Roger Oakland http://www.understandthetimes.org/

I meet many people at conferences who come from a wide variety of church backgrounds.

They tell me that the church they had attended for years has radically changed. Their pastor no longer teaches the Bible. Instead the Sunday morning service is a skit or a series of stories. The Bible seems to have become the forbidden book. While there are pastors who do still teach the Bible, they are becoming the exception rather than the rule.

So why is this happening? Is this part of the emerging church agenda to re-invent Christianity? Emergent leaders are often quoted as saying that methods of presenting the message must change if we are going to be relevant to our generation.

However, what happens if the message promoted in the name of Christ is no longer based on a chapter and verse. Sound doctrine seems to be taking a back seat to a teaching that no longer offends those who are listening. The measure of success for many pastors today is how many are coming, rather than how many are listening and obeying what God has said in His Word.

In order to support what I am saying, it would be helpful to examine how Pastor Doug Pagitt uses the Bible at his church (Solomon’s Porch). Quoting from his book Church Re-Imagined: The Spiritual Formation of People in Communities of Faith, Pagitt stated:

At Solomon’s Porch, sermons are not primarily about extracting truth from the Bible to apply to people’s lives. In many ways the sermon is less a lecture or motivational speech than it is an act of poetry - of putting words around people’s experiences to allow them to find deeper connection in their lives… So our sermons are not lessons that precisely define belief so much as they are stories that welcome our hopes and ideas and participation. [1]

According to Pastor Pagitt, the Bible is not about truth and doctrine but about hopes and ideas and participation. Besides, rather than a pastor teaching the Bible, Pagitt believes there should be equal opportunity for everyone to dialogue in order to come to a consensus of what the Bible might be saying. Pagitt writes:

To move beyond the passive approach to faith, we’ve tried to create a community that’s more like a potluck: people eat and they also bring something for others. Our belief is built when all of us engage our hopes, dreams, ideas and understandings with the story of God as it unfolds through history and through us. [2]

This potluck brand of Christianity that tends to take the Bible lightly has some serious flaws from a biblical perspective. While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry, there is much more to know than putting words around people’s experiences.

The Bible tells us that God is always right and man is almost always wrong. When we rely upon human consensus we will end up with man’s perspective and not God’s revelation. This is a dangerous situation that has the potential to lead people astray.


[1] Doug Pagitt, Church Re-Imagined: The Spiritual Formation of People in Communities of Faith,

Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005, p. 166 [2] Ibid. p. 167

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