A few years ago, I was serving as an evangelist at Indian Springs Holiness Camp Meeting. This grand ‘ole’ camp traces its roots to the 1890’s and holds an historic place in the Camp Meeting Movement in the United States. The camp has not only survived across the years, but against great odds, it thrives in today’s eroding moral climate and in a society that is being referred to as post-Christian.
After an evening service, a lovely senior lady approached me. She said, “Brother Lauter, I would like to offer a little constructive criticism”. I have heard similar words more than once in my 50-plus years of preaching. Experience had taught me that I would likely need a flack jacket and helmet. I braced for the assault of ‘a little constructive criticism’, but it never came. This gracious retired schoolteacher had something to say that has profoundly influenced my preaching to this day.
She said she would like for me to consider striking the word ‘story’ from my vocabulary when referencing the Bible. Instead, she suggested using the terms Biblical or factual account. She continued by saying that when she started teaching school, she could use the phrase Bible Story, and all of the children understood her framework. Participation in church, Vacation Bible Schools, and family devotions helped the children to understand that the Bible was true and the accounts were accurate. Not so anymore, she continued. The last few decades have seen the Bible subjected to strong negative attacks. From atheist to ‘liberal’ theologians, from the unchurched to the halls of academia and beyond, the authority, inerrancy, and infallibility of God’s word have been the object of ridicule and derision.
She felt that today’s children, youth, young adults, and even the middle-aged are confused about the veracity of the Bible. They have often been taught that the Bible is mostly fables and fairy tales and at best a collection of moral stories. Critics and enemies have constantly tried to discredit the Bible. They believe there are contradictions and inaccuracies throughout the Bible. This fine retired teacher believed that when a person uses the phrase, “Let me share a story from the Bible,” what is meant may not be what they hear. She encouraged me to use the words such as historic or factual account. This approach would inform those who are listening that you are relating an accurate and factual message from the Bible. I count that conversation a great epiphany in my ministry. It was a valuable lesson learned.
So you may know for sure my personal stance on the Bible, I will share it here:
I believe that scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute the divinely inspired Word of God. I believe that they are inerrant in their original writings, without error in all they affirm. I believe they are the final authority for truth and life and the only infallible rule for both faith and practice.
And That’s A Fact.
~ Brother Roy