January 2015: An answer to all questions?

In many Christian circles there is a prevailing view that the Bible contains the answers to all questions and that it is possible to infer specific instructions from it for our conduct in every conceivable situation of life. Anyone who espouses this argument will have no trouble at all justifying the death penalty, for example. The problem with this is as follows: one chooses an isolated passage from the Bible, elevates it to the level of a dogma, and builds an entire doctrinal construct on its foundation. In the past, we did the same at times.

Today, however, we have a different understanding of holy scripture: one must see it as a whole. Many things from the Old Testament can only be properly understood when one reads them in the light of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. Then it will also become clear that not every biblical statement has the same value and application. For example, one must distinguish between things that are necessary and decisive for salvation, and things that are bound to their own time and only valid in a specific historical situation for the people who lived in that period.

We are not among those who believe that God has something to say about everything through the Bible, and that all of its contents have exactly the same applicability, level of priority, and importance. However, it is also clear that the Bible is not merely a book for antiquarians. It is still just as current for us today as it was in the past. It is indeed a book for our time—and is even relevant for twenty-first-century Christian life. It is worthwhile to read from it.

Thoughts from a divine service by the Chief Apostle

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