Why follow Jesus if you don’t believe all of scripture?


Question & Answer

Q: By Ellie
Why follow Jesus and worship him if you don’t believe all of scripture?
A: By Rev. Dr. Robin R. Meyers

Dear Ellie,

Great question, and a familiar one given our traditional understanding of the authority of scripture.  If any part of the Bible can be proven to be inaccurate, or impossible to take literally, then doesn’t the credibility of whole Bible collapse?

This is the reason why so much effort goes into claims that there are “no historical errors in the Bible.”  It is the “hole in the dike” theory.  Any crack in the infallible façade of scripture will ultimately lead to the collapse of the whole witness, including all claims about Jesus.

But perhaps it would be helpful to think of it this way.  If it could be proven that George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree and then refused to lie to his father about it, would that mean he was no longer the father of our country?  If the well-known tale about Abraham Lincoln walking three miles to return a penny is a myth, does it mean that he is no longer a towering figure in American history who signed the Emancipation Proclamation?   Of course not.  Likewise, if there are exaggerations, alterations, and myths in the gospels, would Jesus of Nazareth disappear as a spiritual exemplar, the definitive revelation of the love of God for millions?  The accuracy of written records can never fully determine the story of central figures in human history.  We can’t get things right in a newspaper story about things that happened yesterday.

Instead of elevating the written record over all else, we should also examine the obvious effects of such figures on those whose lives were changed, or in whose memory enduring and transformational communities were founded.  I have long believed that our focus should not be entirely on the text itself, but on the behaviors of those who followed Jesus, especially the counter-cultural witness of the early church.  I believe Jesus wanted to be followed, not worshiped, so the ultimate credibility of any Jesus Community resides in its good works and its radical commitment to inclusion and nonviolence.  When you see that, you can believe.

~ Rev. Dr. Robin R. Meyers
About the Author
Rev. Dr. Robin R. Meyers is retired senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, Oklahoma City, Distinguished Professor of Social Justice Emeritus at Oklahoma City University, and Adjunct Professor of Homiletics at Phillips Theology Seminary.  He is a fellow at Westar, a member of the God Seminar, and his most recent book is Saving God from Religion:  A Minister’s Search for Faith in a Skeptical AgeVisit website here:  RobinRexMeyers.com

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