Minutes With Messiah Logo

A Disclaimer

by Tim O'Hearn

Local radio and television stations that play religious or political programming often start or end the program with a disclaimer that says, “The opinions expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this station or its owners.” This is a way to keep the station from being named in a suit brought by someone who disagrees with the content of the show or ad. While it is effective in doing that, some people think that such a disclaimer is a way to evade responsibility before God for their own actions.

There are some scholars of the Bible who might as well use this disclaimer about the Bible itself. They spend their lives and careers studying and writing about the Bible, but their writings show a lack of faith in what it says. This covers a whole range of belief.

There are those who study the Bible as an academic exercise, but do not believe what it says. It is like making a critical reading of Moby Dick or The Magic Flute. You know it is fiction, but it is fun to write scholarly papers about the symbolism the author used. Moses and Jesus become little more than the white whale or the Queen of the Night. They deny that Jonah or Jesus even existed. When it is scholars that engage in such exercises, one wonders why they are wasting their time. Unfortunately, there are more people in the pews on Sunday morning that act like this than there are scholars who do so. They claim to have faith but leave it inside the building when they get into their cars to go home. Jesus spoke of these people.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt 7:22-23)

A second group are, in fact, believers. They will tell you that the Bible is an authoritative guide to living. Jesus was a great teacher, and maybe even the sacrifice for sin. They sound like their doctrine is orthodox, and to a point it is. But then you study the miracles of the Bible and find that their belief is not as strong it appears. They begin to explain natural occurrences of the miracles. The reason Israel was able to cross the Red Sea was an earthquake that temporarily dammed the water. The plagues of frogs, locusts, and gnats were the result of seasonal migrations. Lazarus and Jesus weren’t really dead. They had just “swooned” and woke up three or four days later. And on and on. They believe in God. They just don’t believe he has the power to violate the laws of nature that he set up. If he set them up, since the creation was not six literal days but periods of hundreds or thousands of years. At least the Pharisees were honest enough to say that Jesus performed miracles “by Baal-zebub.” (Lk 11:15) They recognized miracles. The problem is that if the miracles were not miracles, then Jesus was not resurrected. “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Cor 15:14)

In biblical archaeology the range goes from “minimalists” (who say that archaeology cannot prove the Bible, because the Bible is false) to “maximalists” (who say that all biblical archaeology proves the Bible). In between are the “conservatives” that admit that some things the maximalists say may not be totally accurate, but admit that “archaeology cannot prove the Bible, but nothing in archaeology disproves the Bible.”

A true believer does not need a disclaimer. In fact, they will readily admit that “the opinions expressed in this book are necessarily those of this person.”