We frequently talk on this program about the importance of “knowing what you believe and why you believe it.” But it’s also really important to understand what your neighbors believe, particularly in our increasingly pluralistic culture. On this program Shane Rosenthal talks with Adam Duker about his interest in comparative religion, and his experience teaching this subject among a predominantly Muslim student body at the American University of Cairo. How did his students react when they learned about the Christian doctrine of “justification by grace through faith”? Tune in to find out!
“Adam Duker: One of the things I like about this program, Shane, and I’ve been listening to it for years, is that you teach people not only what they believe, but why they believe it. And the saccharin version of Christianity, where we just believe things so that we could be nice people, and we’re Christian because we go to church on Sundays, and then we exchange presents on Christmas, that doesn’t stand up. That’s just a faith built on sand. It doesn’t stand up under scrutiny or to conversations in your dorm room or around the cafeteria table. It might, but it’s unlikely to. I think what you have to do is train young people to think, to evaluate ideas, to allow for them to make mistakes, to ask questions, and then, you know, as parents at some point, you have to let go and let them stand on their own and make their own decisions. Sometimes this will be different than the ones you’ve made.”
Term to Learn
The imprecise term “biblicism” is commonly used disparagingly to denote a particular way of dealing with the Bible, especially the expectation that it can be transposed directly into modern thought forms or lifestyles. Sometimes the term is used simply to mean a strict reference to the Bible. More often it refers to occasions when ardent believers displace or completely relativize dogmas and doctrines; when the Bible is held to disclose not only truths of faith (Revelation 2.2) but also historical, ethical, and political information and norms that may be gained from no other source; when, even if the Bible is studied philologically, direct deductions are sought for answering modern questions; when the Bible is thought to form a totality over against other texts, and its readers can seek in it a divine system, whether religious or secular.
The problem is whether we must make the Bible relevant, or whether we must show the relevance of our own time to the OT and the NT, which we cannot do without theological concepts and theories (i.e., doctrines). Yet systems and doctrines lie concealed in biblicism itself. No one can answer the question of the meaning of the Bible by the simple slogan “The Bible alone.”
(Adapted from The Encyclopedia of Christianity, s.v. “Biblicism.”)