God Says It, I Believe It, So That Settles It! Really?

Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet, Chapter 1: The Book and I

Like many of us, McKnight grew up hearing this mantra: “God says it, I believe it, so that settles it.”

Oh, if it could only be that easy!  McKnight quickly grew skeptical of this slogan.  Few actually practice straight literalism.  It seemed to him (and maybe to us too?) that really we all pick and choose how we will read and apply the Bible.  And we don’t treat all texts within the Bible the same way either.

McKnight (who really seems to like lists) gave the following five explanations he has heard from the “God-says-it-that-settles-it” people for why that same slogan doesn’t always apply and why they pick and choose instead.

  1. Some commands are no longer binding on Christians, like Sabbath-keeping
  2. Some commands have morphed, such as tithing to the Temple and to the poor now has become giving to church
  3. Some commands are about timeless principles not actual words, such as foot washing which is really about serving others’ needs
  4. Some commands were time bound and are no longer in effect today, such as miraculous spiritual gifts
  5. Some commands only apply to specific groups, for instance only the apostles were expected to sell all of their possessions

So how do we read the Bible?  Simple literalism isn’t the answer.