A LIVING DOCUMENT?
I have said many times in sermons, classes, and bulletin articles that many trends and philosophies in the world are mirrored in the religious realm. Let me just make mention of one such philosophy in our country and see how the same philosophy is present among religious folks, even among us.
There are two schools of thought about the Constitution of the United States. One school of thought thinks that the Constitution stands firm, needing no new changing or “tinkering” with it. Such folks are generally called “Strict Constitutionalists.” The other school of thought usually describes the Constitution as a “living and breathing document, constantly changing.” Thus, these folks will interpret the Constitution as they see fit. The latter are in the majority and so we see how it is possible for such swings in the Constitutional basis of the death penalty over the years. The death penalty was at first Constitutional, later it was not, and now it is again. Yet, the document has not changed. Ah, it must be people, or we might say society, who changes. That’s right, and that is why these things happen in relation to the Constitution. This will cause a certain inconsistency always to be just one step away. Now, let us understand that the Constitution is a document created by man for ruling in the affairs of man. As such it is imperfect in nature. The fact that the original document was changed almost instantly is eloquent proof of this. That more amendments have followed (one, the 21st, actually amends another, the 18th) is even more proof that this is a man-made document and will always be subject to examination and change through an amendment process. Folks, that’s the way it is with man.
Now let us consider the religious realm and the approach to the Bible. Some folks believe that the Bible stands firm. It is unalterable and fully sufficient. One can read such passages as Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 1:3; Revelation 22:18-19 and learn that this is the case. Yet, there are others who believe that the Bible is also a “living and breathing document, constantly changing.” So, they add creeds or ignore certain passages or re-interpret things. These constitute their “amendments” to the Bible. These additions will fluctuate according to the ebb and flow of society. This is how such sins as adultery and homosexuality are supposedly approved by the Bible now. Yes, there was a time when such things were not approved socially, but now times have changed. Thus, man thinks the Bible needs to change to fit the changes in society.
One thing I would like to point out. With the Constitution, man is the master. The Constitution was made by man for man. However, the Bible is not like that. The Bible was made by God for man. Therein is a huge difference. If the Bible changes to fit man and society, then man is the master, not God. So, we would have people who perhaps agree that God does not change. “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6). But they would not agree that His word is likewise unchanged. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
In the first case of the Constitution, there is sparse room for toleration on the parts of those who come from these two different schools. They will never be able to view the Constitution as they do and have unity, though there will exist a shaky union. Likewise, those who view the Bible through these two different schools of thought pointed out in this article will never be able to co-exist or tolerate each other because of two totally divergent approaches to the Scriptures.
Where do you find yourself in regard to your view of the Bible? If you think it is a “living and breathing document, constantly changing”, remember there is no stopping place and no limit as to how far this will go. Danger lurks behind such a position. Let us seek to treat the Bible as the final revelation from God. It needs no change. He has told us all we need to know, and it will lead us to heaven.