I have previously defined myself as a biblicist. This means that I Believe the bible from cover to cover, a rarity, and absolute foolishness to most. Some would retort, “How can you take literally that which was intended as metaphor, or poetry?” The response is of course, I don’t. I realize that different styles of writing are utilized to unfold the entirety of biblical canon. Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones puts it this way:
“The word [biblicist] connotes one who, while taking both the immediate and the remote context in to account, interprets and believes in the bible literally.”
He goes on to say that despite continual biblical criticism, the biblicist believes the promises and concepts therein, and also recognizes the rarity of such a belief, even among pastors, priests, and seminary professors, a shame in my opinion. But we can rest assured that this doesn’t mean I am so dense that I don’t understand prose and allegory are used.
Some other critic might say, “But how can you trust what was written over 2000 years ago!” A great question, not for this article, perhaps, but one that every believer and non-believer needs to answer for themselves. My studies have led me to believe in the truth of the word for many reasons, such as fulfilled prophecy, expert eye-witness accounting, corroboration with history and archaeology, just to name a few. Despite being amazingly unique in its circulation and teachings, it has been preserved better then any ancient book, the next closest being Homer’s Illiad. Just to clue you in to how much better the Bible is preserved, we possess 643 ancient copies of the Illiad, while we possess over 25,000 of the new testament. John Warwick Montgomery said this: “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity…”
For more on this subject and others regarding the text, try reading Josh Macdowell’s “New evidence that Demands a Verdict.” The first 200 pages of this book alone will change your world.
Regardless of how I answer critics, the point is that I always do, and zealously so, usually leaping from a sketchy foothold of slight coolness or quiet reserve, (which admittedly is very little to begin with) into an emotional soap-box diatribe, that causes any listener I may have to regard me thereafter with caution. If they don’t know me well, they will say I am a Fanatic, way too zealous and over the top, a bible-beater, a Jesus freak, a literalist who needs to relax because I take ‘religion’ way too seriously.
If the person does know me, then I fear in their hearts, they regard me as a hypocrite. Anyone who believes the word of God so fervently, they must think themselves righteous beyond reproach; a Christian who knows he is better then those he preaches to; a saint among sinners. I must seem so false to those who know my struggles, because the fact is, I fail every day, and they know it. They have seen me stumble, they have seen me fall. They have seen a filthy mouth, and a worse mind, a heart that fights darkness, and a mind that fights anger. They have seen my insecurities cause me to act out in hopes of public approval. They have seen me weak with drink, with words, and with action. They have seen my life, and all of its failures, and they know intuitively that this is not a saint that stands before them. This is not a so-called ‘good christian’. This isn’t a person who should be preaching to anyone. They must watch me wax on and on about my favorite subject, sometimes hotly, sometimes over too many glasses of wine, sometimes after trying to fit in, and they must immediately chalk me up as a fraud. A Hypocrite.
And they are right.
But also, they are not.
It is my favorite subject, because of how beautiful the mosaic is. How intricate the history of redemption is, and how it offers endless study that leads you deeper and deeper into awestruck wonder as you go. And at the bottom of it all, when all is said and done, if the conversation will allow and anyone is left to listen, they will find I am not judging, but just excited. They will find the whole reason that it is my favorite subject is indeed because I am so broken, and so imperfect, and so sinful. It is precisely because of the unique grace offered to us, and that I recognize I need it, that I drone on and on beyond what social protocol dictates. I do not mean to. I just love the material.
So yes, I am a hypocrite, because I am quite imperfect and am preaching. But I am not, because I recognize my imperfection, and therefore recognize my absolute need for grace. This makes me fanatical.
To address fanaticism, let us consider the bible. In it, God claims to have made the very world you stand upon. literally, the ground beneath you. Not only do you draw each breath by His grace, but every beautiful thing you have ever smiled at, ever enjoyed, ever felt, was because of Him. Not only that, He continued to love you, despite your sin, and offered you the inheritance of His son, Jesus Christ, who made all things. It says every single thing, the universe, everything was made… for Him. Even you.
It says this. There is no getting around it. It says fear the Lord, and work out your salvation with fear and trembling. It promises one of two results upon death, either the judgement seat of Christ, or the white throne judgement. If you don’t know which one you will be present for, it should scare you. Why am I fanatical? If it is not true, and is just a religion like all the others, to appease the weakness of man, and lessen the reality of death’s sting, then to be zealous would be foolishness. But being a Christian is hard. Why would we put ourselves through it, when we could instead fill our days with carnal pleasure, self-service, and indifference? There wouldn’t be a need to bother others with our beliefs, and persecution would be someone else’s problem. So why then, if it is so counter-intuitive to be Christian, do we allow God to be Lord over our lives?
Because it’s true.
And I for one would rather live a difficult truth, even with all its problems, then live a comfortable lie, and face the reality of God’s holiness when I die. Upon studying the Bible, to be honest, I find it hard to believe we all aren’t fanatics. I know one day I will wish I had been even more so.
So if I get excited talking about it with you, please know, I’m just a flawed person trying to love you, because God loved me first.