In a world of political correctness, it is increasingly difficult to state that there are absolute truths made plain in theBible. Many are offended when someone challenges their practices or views, since “it all relative” in the minds of billions of people. How can we try to reach a darkened world that will tune us out for trying?
I recently purchased a book entitled “Shocked By The Bible” and found that I greatly appreciated the purpose and tone/style of it. This book went through talking about what the bible ACTUALLY says about various subjects that most mainstream Christians have misconceptions about. It was not forceful or opinionated, but rather informational, encouraging the reader to consider the information and make up their own mind about it. The contents and references were obviously biblical, and it danced atop taboo subjects; addressing common misunderstandings in a way that was not offensive, accusatory, derogatory, or awkward. There was humor in it, but it was also straightforward.
It made me think of how I have or would handle discussions about sensitive issues such as “clean and unclean meats,” the account of Christ’s birth” (and what it doesn’t say), and the account and timing of Christ’s resurrection (which conflicts with the mainstream view of Friday to Sunday) – all of which are covered in the book. For more information on the book and the author, check out an interview with Jerold Aust of the Good News Magazine: http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/shocked-bible/
This reminds me of the apostle Paul in Athens. Paul had good use of tact in addressing the Greeks in Athens (Acts 17:22-23).
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
He reasoned with them, in a way that they would understand given their background and mindset. Some of us may have been tempted to say, “listen up you polytheistic pagans, you’re doing it wrong!” While this would have been an accurate statement, Paul decided to find some common ground to ease into the situation. In this case, it was more effective to adapt to their style of thinking in the approach than to lay it out full force, as some of the Old Testament prophets did.
In our modern day, it is sometimes difficult to discern the correct approach in addressing people. Granted, most of us are not traveling ministers, however when an opportunity presents itself (and those times will come!) we need to be ready to give an answer for our faith. (1 Peter 3:15)
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear
I think this speaks to being ready (prepared with deep personal knowledge of God’s word) to give an answer, or “witness,” to those who want to know about it in the way that will be most effective for them. While there may be a time for fire and brimstone, and the approach should not water down the truth, there is definitely a time to be more gentle; reaching people through humor, kindness, and commonalities.
“Shocked By The Bible” was not only a good read, containing things you may or may not have realized about the bible, but I would also recommend this book for those wanting to have a handy guide to tactful discussions, or just to have in your collection to lend to a friend interested in seeing what the bible really says on issues that many are confused about.
[see another version of this review on ucg.org: http://www.ucg.org/book-review/book-review-shocked-bible-most-astonishing-facts-youve-never-been-told/]