Freed to Learn And Rightly Exploit
The Bible says something about everything. What it says about everything is infallible, inerrant and completely authoritative. But the Bible does not say everything about anything.
These statements may come as a shock to some, particularly the biblicists amongst us.
Let’s take the first proposition: the Bible says something about everything.
The universe appears to be expanding. Take the farthest atoms at the very fringe of the universe. The Bible says something infallible about those atoms: they have been created ex nihilo (out of nothing) by God Almighty and in Him they live and move and have their being. This is the orthodox Christian faith. The Bible denies the eternality of the universe or any of its constituent parts–and in this also it is infallible, inerrant and completely authoritative.
Let’s consider the second proposition: the Bible does not say everything about anything. The Bible does not say everything that can be known about God, for example. He is infinite. The Bible does not record every word and deed of our Lord Jesus Christ upon earth. In fact, it explicitly denies that it does (John 20: 30, 31 & 21:25). We know that the Apostle Paul wrote more letters than those incorporated into Scripture. The Bible says a good deal about human beings, their actions, and the thoughts and intentions of their hearts. But it does not tell us everything about any character appearing in Scripture, nor about any of us. But what it does say is authoritative, infallible and sufficient.
One important implication of this is that it implies the authority and place of human (right) reason, experimentation, research, discovery, and consequent progress in developing the world’s potential. There is a lifetime of learning ahead of each of us. But the Bible enables us to do this with the right goals, motives, and ethical standards–so that our learning is more sanctified and ultimately more productive and helpful. The Bible frees us to learn comprehensively (although not exhaustively) about the creation. It liberates us from superstition and myths and fables which debilitate the mind.
A frequent pagan slur against Christians is that they are mindless. In fact, the very opposite is true. Orthodox Christianity liberates the mind from fruitless speculations and provides a confident, positive expectation of learning and discovery. That’s why historically Christians and Christian agencies have been at the forefront of learning, education, schooling, and disease-combating hospitals.
When God directed Abraham to consider the grains of sand on the seashore and count them, He was using a metaphor to drive home a point about the vast number of Abraham’s descendants. But Abraham did not know then that the grains of sand were made up of a substance which would be utilised four thousand years later to carry vast amount of information in electronic form in something called a computer. God did. He had decreed and planned it so. Over time, as man used the tools of learning and research given to him by God, eventually we came to one of the most marvellous technological developments yet seen, utilising one of the most common and abundant substances known. By the same token, it is beyond our imagination what wonders will exist in four thousand years time, if the Lord were not to descend from the clouds in the interim. But God knows. And He will guide and direct his image bearers upon earth to develop just these wonders.
He has not told us everything so that we can have the honour of co-labouring with Him to unfold the glories and potentialities of His creation.
When men turn away from God, one result is to reject technological development and learning. Thus, we see the rise of modern day luddites amongst the Greens and neo-Marxists who irrationally view the explosion of knowledge and technological advancement as being destructive of the planet. Exploitation of the creation is seen as an evil business. Christians see responsible exploitation as a duty.
Moreover, we see the rise of catastrophism and fear that the world and the universe are alien places and we are all threatened with extinction either from overpopulation, disease, starvation, meteors–whatever the apocalypse du jour might be. When men deny God, they end up denying the dignity and unique responsibilities of mankind in the earth, above all other creatures. Saving the habitat of a snail becomes more important than feeding people.
The slur of pagans that orthodox Christians are mindless is so far from the truth that it tells us nothing about Christians, but a great deal about pagans.