It has been fascinating reading the comments you are writing on the posts I’ve made about Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty debacle. I love reading all the different perspectives, yes, even the ones I don’t agree with. But I have seen a recurring theme among many of the comments as well as other articles I am reading, whether they are from Christians or non-Christians – and it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

We play dangerous games when it comes to Christianity. In my view, there are two main games we play that are both destructive and damning. One: we add things to the Bible. Two: we take things away from the Bible.

Whether by falling into one category or both, when we decide to pervert the Bible with our own interpretations, however well-meaning, we are playing with eternal Hell-fire, no pun intended.

What am I talking about, exactly? Let’s break this down.

The Danger of Addition

We’ll start with the category of adding things to the Bible. There are lots of religions out there (of which I will not name here for the simple reason that I don’t have time to list them all) that add things to the Bible. They claim things like, “yes, the Bible is true. So is this (insert random religious text or philosophy here).” Their extra-biblical documents serve as “clarification” for the things of the Bible that are difficult to describe or understand on their own. They are authored by men (as is every book in history except the Bible) and often contemporary writings (by contemporary I mean from the last few centuries). It is from these groups that most of the world’s cults appear. However, you don’t have to be of a cult to add things to the Bible and claim them to be true.

The danger in adding anything to the Bible is that you suddenly blur the lines of Truth. When do you stop? If there are truths that “pair well” with the Bible based on your own opinion, why don’t other “truths” pair with the Bible in my opinion? Why is your opinion higher than mine? Let’s say you’re a scholar. Does that make your opinion higher than mine? Let’s say you’re a very devout, religious person. Does that make your opinion higher than mine? Or higher than someone else’s? Where does it stop? And who’s to say who is right?

The thing about God is that, well, He is GOD. He gets to decide what Truth is. Not me. Not you. Not anyone well “learned” in any specific subject. Because if Truth is up to humans, then there is no such thing as Truth for it is subjective to passing whims, trends, and ideas over the millennia. Truth is either infallible, or it isn’t truth. Therefore ANYTHING outside of the Bible that is paraded as “just as true” as the Bible, is indeed NOT.

The Danger of Subtraction

The other category is of those who would take things away from the Bible. These are the folks who would say that we don’t really know what certain passages mean, or that certain passages are just metaphorical, or that much of the Bible is just folk stories that didn’t really happen. The danger here is similar to the danger of adding things to the Bible. Who am I to say what’s true and what’s not? Sure, I’m a person of intellect. I can read the book of Jonah and come to the conclusion that it seems highly improbable that a man was swallowed by a fish and lived to tell the tale. But who am I to say that it DIDN’T happen either? I wasn’t there. Neither were you. And why couldn’t it have happened? After all, if the God who CREATED THE UNIVERSE wanted me to hang out in the belly of a giant fish for a while to learn my lesson, I’m pretty sure He could get me out alive, too.

Aside from the fact that using the Huffington Post as your authority on the Bible makes about as much sense as using a high school student’s 300 word paper on rocket science as your authority on the science, I decided to click and read.

The danger in cherry-picking what’s true in the Bible is that you fall down a slippery slope where the Bible means one thing to this group and another to that group. The Bible stops being absolute Truth and starts being an ancient self help book that is about as trustworthy to stand on for your life’s problems as Swiss cheese.

Here’s case and point. I read something the other day by a well-meaning friend who was pointing out that we don’t “really know what the Bible means when it talks about [subject intentionally removed†].” This person then provided a link to a Huffington Post article entitled, “What Does the Bible Really Say About [subject intentionally removed]?” Aside from the fact that using the Huffington Post as your authority on the Bible makes about as much sense as using a high school student’s 300 word paper on rocket science as your authority on the science, I decided to click and read. The article cited all of the scriptures on the subject, both Old and New Testament, most of which say things blatant like “IT IS AN ABOMINATION.” Their conclusion? Well, we don’t know if that’s what they REALLY meant.

Really? This is your earth-shattering conclusion about a difficult topic in the Bible? We don’t REALLY know what they meant?

I don’t know about you, but I would not want to bet my eternity on a twenty-first century’s online editorial about the possible nuances of Biblical sentence structure. Seems like a losing proposition.

The Bible, The Whole Bible, and Nothing But the Bible

As for me, I don’t have time to wonder what’s true and what’s not in the Bible. It’s either ALL TRUE, or ALL CRAZY. That’s really the only scenario that makes sense to me. And I don’t want to hear the argument that it’s all in “how you interpret it.” There is no difficulty in interpreting, “[Insert Biblically-cited sin] is an abomination.”

It would seem to me that the only reason to pick and choose what is true in the Bible is to justify our own sins. And it may even be as simple as just choosing to ignore certain parts of the Bible as opposed to redefining them. I know several pastors who were in the depths of an affair still preaching the Word. Did they say that the Bible doesn’t say adultery is sin? Oh no, they instead justified their actions by saying that they were really in love with their mistresses, but not with their wives.

So that makes it all ok, right?

Wrong. I’m not going to pretend to be intellectually on-par with a being who created the universe and orchestrated divine intricacies like photosynthesis and the miracle of conception by saying I know when He was just being metaphorical. Or ironic. Or sentimental. I’m going to play it safe (smart, rather) and assume He meant every word He said. Either that or I’m going to assume He meant none of it. Otherwise, I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favors by claiming to have correctly interpreted the subtle and subversive nuances of the Almighty God. I’ll leave that up to Him.

†If you’re wondering why I removed the subject of discussion, I wanted to make sure this post sticks to the intended purpose: a discussion of Biblical interpretation. I did not want to chase rabbits of the nuances of specific topics of the Bible. (At least not on this post.)

I grew up in church. Ok, more specifically I grew up in a non-denominational Disciples of Christ church and an evangelical, charismatic Church of God private school. And then I went to a Baptist church. Ok so, more accurately, I grew up denominationally confused. The liturgical, dogmatic church where I grew up was in stark contrast to the charismatic, evangelical spirit-filled church where I went to school. Whereas on Sunday mornings I was wearing robes and lighting candles, on weekdays I was casting out demons and dancing in chapel. Then when I became Baptist I learned a lot about rules and expectations, most of which were set forth by the Baptist Faith and Message.

Needless to say, when I got into my twenties, I grew tired of it all. I wanted to get down to the truth. I didn’t care anymore about what one denomination thought, or what another taught. I just wanted to know the Bible.

Then I heard about Gateway Church. I heard lots of things about Gateway Church.

“It’s full of demons.” 
“They’re a bunch of rich folks in a country club.”
“They’ve only grown the way they have because they’re in the richest town in America.”

I knew there was something to it, because if people were that passionate against it, something was up. And whether for good or bad, I wanted to find out what was going on. So I went – perhaps more out of curiosity, but I went, nonetheless.

And for the first time in my life, something happened to me that I never thought was normal, or even possible for a sane person – I fell on my knees and wept right in the middle of the service.

I didn’t know what it was back then. I had heard terms like “anointing” and “presence.” I didn’t really care, I just liked it and wanted more. There was something to this place. It was full of something I couldn’t explain. (I now know that something is the Holy Spirit, and He has changed my life.)

Growing up with a veritable smorgasbord of spiritual influences left me confused at best. I didn’t know whether it was better to serve God in reverence, never ask questions and live in fear, or if it was better to cast demons out of the oven when the rolls burned. (When I was a little girl, I would literally lay in bed a night casting demons out of my bedroom. Yes, mom, it’s true.) The turning point came when I decided to strip my faith down to the Bible and nothing else. And when I found a church that taught the same thing, I was hooked. All in, no looking back, you might as well hand over the Kool-Aid ’cause I’m drinking it.

And now I’m in a place spiritually that not only did I never think I would be, but I never thought I wanted to be. I’m that girl – you know the one – who prays in the spirit language (you know, that scary thing that only weirdos do, otherwise known as speaking in tongues), who has seen demons cast out, who believes in miracles – daily miracles, who experiences the presence of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. I’m the girl who lifts her hands during worship and jumps in church. I’m the girl who lays hands on her children when they’re sick and teaches them to pray for themselves. I’m the wife who submits to her husband’s spiritual authority with joy because I know that he is submitted to the same God I am, and I don’t really have to worry about whether or not we will be on the same page. If we’re on God’s page, we’ll always be on the same page. I’m the girl that has faith that the bills will get paid even when there’s no reason they should on paper (and they always do). We’re the family that tithes even though we “don’t have it” and we see miracles continually because of it. We’re the family that gets excited about talking about sermons together, about talking about scripture we’re reading, about things we’re learning.

I never thought I would be that girl, that wife, that mother, that family.

I now understand that my varied denominational experiences each represented a part of the Trinity. My dogmatic, non-denominational church taught me about the awe and wonder of the Father God, the Ancient of Days. It was there that I learned about reverence, respect, and fear (the healthy kind). These things were good, but they weren’t everything.

It was in my charismatic private school that I learned about the Holy Spirit. He is power. He is everywhere. He brings life in dead places, dry bones becoming flesh. He heals, he revives, he restores. But He is not the only part of the Trinity.

It was in my Baptist church that I learned about Jesus. He died and rose again that we might be forgiven of our sins and live in heaven someday. He is Savior. He is redeemer. He is the one who sets free. He is the Son of God, God incarnate, Emmanuel. But he is only a third of a mighty three-strained cord.

It was at Gateway that I finally began to learn about a walk of faith in the power of ALL THREE – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I have learned that each part of the Trinity is power, is meaningful, is vital, but any one part without the other, or any one part placed above the other is not a true representation of the triune God. And without all three, we can’t achieve the blessed life.

I write this today, convicted of the truth that many of my dear friends are stuck in one of three aspects of God without experiencing the fullness of His power in the Trinity. Some of you are in a church where you follow the rules, you give your due respect and you go home and wonder why you’ve never had a miraculous deliverance from a problem, or illness, or financial burden in your life. I’m here to tell you it’s time to welcome the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Or maybe you’re in a place where all you see is a spiritual battle around you. You live in fear of opening doors to demons at every turn because they lurk in corners waiting to attack. I am here to tell you that He who has overcome the world, has already overcome the enemy! It’s time to get back to understanding the power and wonder of the Ancient of Days.

Or maybe you’re not a believer at all. Maybe you think all of this is a bunch of bunk made up by a bunch of lonely, confused kooks. Maybe so. But us kooks are changed, set free, and will never be the same. Say what you will, but you can’t argue with that. It’s time you give Jesus a try. What have you got to lose? On the other hand, if you’re wrong, what then?

God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit work in unity to bring victory, deliverance and power. I challenge you today to strip away your denominational filters, or your family heritages, or your preconceived notions and search for all of God in Spirit and in Truth. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.