Steve McSwain wrote an article in the Huffington Post titled 6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying. While I can think of plenty of things that Christians say that I disagree with or find annoying, I could ask: Why should Christians stop saying these things? Based on what authority? Even if I agreed with everything McSwain says, why should people change what they say based on what McSwain says? I could see why he would determine not to say these things, but people should speak what they believe.
1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. I will admit that I do chuckle when we say that the Bible is inerrant in the original autographs even though no one has seen those texts in almost twenty centuries. Still, McSwain says we should give up on the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible because it is full of errors. I agree that there needs to be some clarification of these doctrines but I don’t think we are ready to reject them. The Bible is full of errors? By what standard? By the standard of 21st century western historiography? The Bible was inspired in an ancient middle eastern context and it should be held to that standard. When compared with other ancient writings, the Bible shows itself to be remarkably accurate. The Bible was inspired to give us understanding of who God is, what he has done and what he expects from us and on that purpose there is no reason to doubt that it is inerrant and infallible.
2. We just believe the Bible. I generally agree with McSwain on this one. As much as we say that we just believe the Bible, we really believe our interpretation of the Bible, an interpretation informed by a long line of tradition.
3. Jesus is the only way to heaven. McSwain argues that John 14:6 is not Jesus presenting an exclusive soteriology. McSwain suggests that Jesus was just talking to his disciples and not making a general statement about humanity. However, Jesus says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV) He does not say “none of you” but “no one.” In addition, there is a logical problem if we take the atonement seriously. If there already existed numerous ways of salvation among the world’s religions that worked just fine, does it make sense that God would let his Son die to provide one more among many ways of salvation? The atonement only makes sense if Jesus is the only way.
4. The rapture of Jesus is imminent. I will admit that rapture hysteria can be annoying at best and dangerous at worst. I generally do not speak about the rapture but about the resurrection. At the second coming of Jesus, the dead will be raised and Christians who are alive will be transformed. This is what most people mean by the rapture, I just think the rapture puts the emphasis on the wrong place. However, even if this belief has been abused, Jesus and Paul both taught about the second coming and the resurrection. It is not a minor doctrine. When understood properly, it can be used in a positive way. It can be used to make the most of the time we have, blessing others and trying to make a difference while we can.
5. Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God. While people can choose to engage in homosexual behaviour, those who experience same-sex attraction do not choose that lifestyle. We don’t know why people have same-sex attraction and there may be more than one reason. It may be completely environmental in terms of emotional development or perhaps there is a biological component. However, cause does not take away from the Bible teaching that homosexuality is not what God wants for humanity. The understanding that homosexual activity is sinful is more than “the prejudice of Paul,” it is part of the revelation of God.
6. The earth is less than 10,000 years old. I agree that the earth is not less than 10,000 years old. But I don’t care if my Christian brothers and sisters believe this.
In conclusion, Steve McSwain can believe and say what he wants. He has identified some issues that we need to reflect upon but there is no reason that we have to submit to what McSwain believes. We need to reflect upon Scripture and wrestle with the hard issues. We just might find that some of these things must continue to be said.