Friday, 6 January 2012

First Things First

So our PM, David Cameron, thinks we should return to Biblical values. When I heard of his comments, rather than jumping up and cheering, I felt vaguely uneasy and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to work out why.

What does he really mean? I doubt that he’d champion the repeal of all those un-Godly laws that have been enacted over the years in the name of ‘human rights’, so I can only assume the ‘return’ goes no further than being ‘awfully nice’ to all and sundry, even if they’d wipe you out, given half a chance! But that’s treating the Bible as just a book of rules for an arcane Sunday club. Unless those rules carry authority, we’re down to arguing one group of people’s good ideas against those of another. To be relevant, the Bible - all of it - must either be the Word of God, or it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. And if it is the Word of God, it has ultimate authority, which means you can’t treat it as a ‘pick ‘n mix’ counter, only selecting the ‘sweeties’ you fancy.

When questioned about the commandments, Jesus said:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Torah and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22v37-40)

Note the order: Love God first, then you’ll be in a proper state to love those around you. But there’s another aspect to all this: The reformer John Calvin said:

“Though indeed God alone is sufficient witness to himself in his word, nevertheless that word will obtain no credence in the heart of man if it be not sealed by the interior witness of the Spirit…”

In other words the Bible, without the illumination and interpretation of the Holy Spirit, is just a dead letter and attempts to follow it will soon result in legalism. However, the indwelling of the Spirit is only granted to those that have repented and accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. So, the only way to truly return to Biblical values is to return to the One who inspired those values. Then they are lived out from an intimate relationship with Him, not as a set of rules applied like a sticking plaster to try healing a sick society.