Finishing my first semester of seminary classes might not seem like that significant of an accomplishment. Especially since I have several other semesters left until I am finally able to call that special paper that certifies I’m a “Master of Divinity.” Even still, I endured my first semester of seminary along with all the assorted cares that competed with my studies, walking the tightrope, keeping a myriad of things in equilibrium. I was grinding away at course work while keeping an expectant mother, a 2-year-old, two jobs, and the logistics of moving our entire lives to a new state in some measure of balance. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most ideal of seasons in which to add ministerial training into the mix.
Nevertheless, as I reflect on the semester I had, I can truly say it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I can already sense my doctrinal, theological, and personal trappings are being stretched and solidified in concurrent degrees. I am eager to continue my seminary work in the spring of 2020. However, in the concluding remarks to Ethics for a Brave New World, which served as the textbook for my Christian Ethics class, John and Paul Feinberg make the following striking assertion:
Scripture doesn’t answer all questions about a Christian’s relation to society.1
For whatever reason, this statement has lodged itself in a bothersome corner of my brain ever since I closed the book on that class. This claim, while perhaps correct in a literal sense, is completely unfounded in the spiritual sense. “Ethics,” to be sure, is a cumbersome topic to broach, regardless the point from which you start. It is perplexing, though, that the Feinbergs landed on this assertion near the end of a robust collection of ethical discussions that have a “Christian” basis for their origin. Especially since the essence of the Christian life is bound in a book.
Contrary to other religions, however, this book is “living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb 4:12) Instead of a rigid instruction manual that tells us how to live, the Bible, through the Spirit’s power, imbues one to read, understand, and apply the sacred truths of God in the mundanest of human occurrences. It is the Word of God alone which ought to be the light and lamp throughout all phases and predicaments of the disciple’s life. (Prv 3:5–6)
The Scriptures, likewise, afford one principles not of man’s invention but of divine origination. As difficulties arise and ethical conundrums abound, one’s first recourse should be to resort to God’s own words for life, wisdom, and faith. This is the preacher’s guide and beacon in a world that is increasingly dim towards the things of God. (Ps 119:105) Such is why the longest chapter in the entire Bible is dedicated to informing one on the prominence and preeminence of the Word in all of life.
In a similar confession to a recent Tim Challies’ post, I’m all-in on the Word.
I’ve examined the evidence and have chosen to believe it’s not wrong, but right. I’ve chosen to believe it’s good and pure and true, infallible and inerrant and sufficient. I’ve chosen to take it on its own terms, to believe it all the way, to live by its every word. I’ve chosen to be in — all-in.
It is my only lifeline, my only support, my only respite of divine origin and comfort that can speak to and sustain my soul in the torrent of life. If it is wrong, then I’m wrong. “If you want to know how to live and how to love and how to survive and how to thrive, read the Bible,” writes Jared C. Wilson. “If you want to know what God thinks about you, read the Bible.”2 To the degree that the Word is neglected or ignored or overlooked in my life is the degree to which I will feel fickle, faithless, and faint-hearted. No, not every ethical quandary is covered in Scripture. But by the same token, “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc 1:9) The heart of the human problem is still the same as its ever been since the first hour post-Genesis 3. Sin still beclouds our better judgment and dupes us into making pitiful decisions. “Your time in the Bible is the primary means by which the Holy Spirit empower you to live your life.”3 Our only recourse is our nearness to our Only Hope.
John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway), 736.
Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel-Driven Church: Uniting Church-Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019), 71.