Rev. Mike Donahue of Speed Memorial Church in Sellersburg, Ind.:
Recently I had a Facebook discussion about the Bible … well at least my interpretation of it. Now before I go further, however you believe is fine with me as long as it gets you to Christ. My discussion began after a relative posted Bible verses from the Old Testament. I came back with be careful because there are passages in the Old Testament we can not follow, because if we did we would be in jail.
Now I will give you my concern over what is happening in some churches concerning the Bible. Joel Osteen (televangelist) after every broadcast says, “get into a Bible believing church.” I have no problem with him saying that, but I believe to many churches are elevating the Bible above Christ. That concerns me on so many levels. First and foremost, the Bible is our guide to Christ … it is a love story from beginning to the end. I am familiar with people who can quote the Bible like a machine gun, but (you can tell) do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
As most of you know we can not follow everything in the Bible. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 talks about taking your stubborn and rebellious son to the elders of the city and “All the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die; so shall thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear”
Well, I don’t know about you, but there would be a lot of “men” going to jail if we did that today. Now does that invalidate the Bible … of course not. In seminary we did what is called exegesis a passage. What that means is when you read the passage you determine who wrote it, the time it was written and who his audience was we he wrote it. We can see that it was a specific audience the author was writing to.
The good thing is that it is easier to follow the New Testament then the Old Testament. I always tell anyone who wants to read the Bible for the first time start with the New Testament. If you read the Old Testament first you are going to be saying, “God really!”
Let us not forget John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” To me this means that we need to concentrate on what became the flesh … Jesus Christ.
Yes, we need to read the Bible; just don’t stay in the “Word,” but rather have that relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember none of Jesus’ disciples were seminary educated or Torah (Bible of Jesus’ time) scholars.He said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And they did!
Here’s my point: I would rather have a church say they were “Christ centered” then “Bible centered.” If you are always in the Word, then how do you have a relationship with a risen savior … who is a live and well in each one of us. So let’s be careful and not use the Bible as a club (to new Christians or anyone else), but rather a hug to get people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Every day I am thankful that the Jesus Christ of the New Testament believed in me enough to call me into the ministry (for 30 years). I pray to Him everyday and read the Bible to make sure I am understanding the man, the son of God, named Jesus.
Rev. Donahue married us in 1992, by the way. His belief is that with one exception, a Bible verse requires a repeat reference somewhere else in the Bible to be valid for the purpose of Bible study. My favorite Bible verse, Psalm 146:3 — “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” — is repeated in four other Psalms, as well as in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel.
The exception is John 3:16 — “For God gave the world his only begotten son, that those who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting live.”