I must say I am puzzled by Paul’s assertion to Timothy that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV). This is particularly bewildering when the church fathers had not gotten around to deciding which writings would be included in both the Old and New Testament canons! Much of the New Testament had not at this point even been written. I guess I should say I am curious how this text is applied to selected scriptures of the past and scriptures not yet written!
Do I believe in the Bible? Yes, but I do not believe everything in the Bible is applicable to me. Nor do I believe everything in the Bible as interpreted by theologians and/or armchair theologians. I believe that there are things in the Bible that are strictly cultural, some that are of academic interest, and other things that transcend culture and apply to my existence. I struggle with knowing the difference!
Since the Bible has its roots in Eastern culture, I must be very careful not to judge and/or interpret the events that are found in the scriptures by the standard or mores that I know and embrace today. And conversely I cannot expect a literal reading of the Bible to necessarily prescribe my lifestyle or to be predictive of current events. Reading the Bible through the authors’ eyes and culture is not an easy interpretive task.
Do I believe in evolution? Yes, but I do not believe everything that the evolutionists say. Do I believe in archeology? Yes, but I don’t believe everything an archeologist says. Do I believe in science? Being an erstwhile scientist, I must say yes, but I don’t believe everything a scientist says and certainly not everything that I say!
Here is the problem as I see it. There are scientists that make assumptions and statements concerning things of faith that are inappropriate to their expertise, and there are theologians who make assumptions and statements concerning science that are inappropriate to their expertise. What if we had a marriage of the two? It doesn’t look likely within the Adventist community at this point in time.
At the end of the day, just what do I believe? I have lots of beliefs; however, I must admit I live in a world of ambivalence in many regards, some of which are addressed here on Spectrum. When all the reports are in from disputed doctrinal topics, with both pro and con affirming a particular belief based on the Holy Spirit and scripture, I find myself weary and worn! And I am still ambivalent, but I do take courage and assurance in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Mel Campbell has spent a lifetime teaching chemistry and education in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s educational system in India, Tennessee, and California. He is an Adjunct Professor of Education at La Sierra University and is a graduate of Union College, University of Tennessee, and Purdue University. At the present time he is not an educator, scientist, or a theologian, but one who regularly attends church on Sabbath, volunteers at Community Services, and writes scripture readings for worship.He lives with his wife in Riverside, California.