Saturday, March 16, 2013

The False Shibboleth of Being "Biblical"

Judges 12 tells the story of a war between the tribe of Ephraim and the Gileadites. The Ephraimites had a dialetical oddity. They could not pronounce the sound "sh." In order to identify the Ephraimites, the Gileadites used the Hebrew word "shibboleth" as a password. Say "sibboleth" and you were put to the sword.

I've always imagined that the dialogue went something like this:

"Are you an Ephraimite?"


"Say 'shibboleth.'"


"Kill him!"

"Oh, sit!"

In some Christian circles the word "biblical" has become a shibboleth. I've written about this before. Calling a thing "biblical" makes it right; "unbiblical" condemns it. There are people who espouse "biblical marriage," "biblical manhood and womanhood," "biblical financial practices."

The problem is that it's a false shibboleth. The word "biblical" is almost always used to mean "the Bible, as I interpret it, supports the view that I am espousing."

Ed Cyzewski has an excellent post on this subject over at his blog today.

Do you want a biblical approach to money?
Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.
Then again, you’re supposed to tithe 10%, so I’m not sure how to manage that if you’ve just sold everything you own.
Do most Christians ever try to do either of these things? For some reason we don’t. We also don’t hear too many Christians having a crisis of faith because they worry about having too much money.

Read the rest of it here. Really. Do. 

(HT: Rachel Held Evans).

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