Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Source of Authority (Part 3 of 3)

Over the past two weeks, I have laid out a baseline for the Bible to serve as the authority for mankind – over and above self, science, or any other possibility (Part 1 and Part 2). This week, I conclude this brief series by providing one more reason I trust the Bible as my source, and why I believe others should as well.

Western culture, and especially Americans have an attitude towards learning that is reflected by two words, “So what?” In other words, we want to know “Why” the topic is important for us to learn. We are not the first culture to have this mindset (ancient Rome seems to have been the same, for instance), but we have taken the idea to another level. What we are wanting is a purpose for our learning. For instance, why do most teenagers struggle to understand algebra? Because “I am never going to need to know this, so what’s the point?” That is, “What’s the purpose?”

While we ask the question of purpose about many matters, most people rarely truly consider their individual purpose. We tend to allow ourselves to be used in any number of ways by any number of people. An analogy would be a tv stand my son once purchased at a garage sale. The stand is large – about 5.5 foot wide and 5.5 foot tall, and has many doors and cabinets with room for an old 32 inch tv. I am sure the stand was well used as a tv/component stand by the original owner, but my son wanted it as (primarily) a clothes dresser. And frankly, it worked well for that. Now, it is a place for storing various items while serving to separate one part of our basement from another. Three different owners, three different purposes. But the unit was created to serve as a tv stand. Our family has adapted its use for our purposes, but the original box and instruction manual were prepared by the company who manufactured the item and likely shows various electronic equipment set up within it (I presume, because I have not seen either the box or the manual).

Thus, the authority directs the original purpose. If this premise is true, then how do we define the purpose of humanity from the Big Bang? If humans appeared as, essentially, a random act, then what purpose can we really have? I suppose we are placeholders until evolution casts us aside because we become unwilling to adapt further (i.e. natural selection).

But what if humans were created? What if a Supreme Being intentionally created life, and within that life, a species known as humans? If this is true, then how might we know what intention that Being had for humanity? The answer: the Bible. The Supreme Being, according to the Bible, is God, who created humans in His image (Genesis 1.26-27) for the purpose of caring for the rest of Creation (Genesis 1.28-30). Thus, the Bible answers the question of “So what?” for humans and, therefore, can, and should, serve as the authority for how to live our lives.

However, just as humans have devised various ways to use different products for different reasons (e.g. the tv stand), we schemed to find different purposes and understandings for ourselves. Had we (beginning the Adam and Eve) not done this, the Bible would likely be about three pages long (effectively, the story of Creation in Genesis 1 and 2). However, because we looked elsewhere for authority, God had to paint a complete picture of how we violated our purpose, the effects of having violated it, how He fixed the violation, and what we are to do about it. Thus, the Bible is filled with over a thousand pages to help us know how to find and reclaim our true purpose – which is ultimately to give glory to God – both now and for all of eternity.

So, again, authority directs purpose. If humans evolved randomly, then no authority exists for our lives, and we have no reason to ask, “So what?” because purpose has no meaning. But, if we were created, then the Creator is the authority for our purpose. As such, any instructions the Creator left for us can be considered authoritative. Those instructions are found in the Bible which means the Bible can be trusted as the true source of authority for all of mankind. Our challenge, then, is to determine what the detailed instructions mean. While interpreting parts of the Bible is not always easy, the process is important if we are to truly discover how each of our individual purposes fit into the overall collective purpose God has for mankind.

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