First Presbyterian Church

302 Summit Street | Winona, Miss. | 662.283.2487


Beware "Forrest Gump Spirituality"

Posted by Ryan on July 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Most of us have probably seen the 1994 Tom Hanks hit movie, Forrest Gump in which the titular character shares his experiences and reflections on life and society with various people on a Savannah park bench.

As the story goes on, Gump often shares with us little insights and maxims from his mother, which invariably begin, “Mama always said...”

For many who have been reared in a “pseudo-Christian Culture” such as the United States, we have a tendency to assume that the values and norms that we have known, lived under, and been taught are universal and transcendent truths and “Christian.”

Sadly, this is not always the case. For instance, you may have been told that it’s okay to tell a “little white lie” if it means not hurting someone’s feelings. God’s word, by contrast, tells us that God is a God of Truth, hates liars, and demands that His people love the truth so much that they forsake lying.

Many people who call themselves Christians live out a spirituality that consists simply of what they were taught by their parents and the traditions of their society. But is that where Christians are supposed to learn how to live as His people? Yet many in our society have a religion that consists of little more than “my mama always said...”

True Christianity is found and learned from God’s word, the Bible. The Bible teaches us that every culture is imperfect, riddled with sin, and doomed to pass away. Because of this, God’s word confronts every culture with its sins, failings, and shortcomings as it calls the people of every culture to embrace Jesus Christ offered in the gospel and follow His commandments.

As Presbyterians, we must not be crippling our growth in grace by living a “Forrest Gump spirituality” that consists only of traditions and sentiments of the past. We must be constantly looking to Christ and His word to see if the traditions and values that we hold dear are actually from God or merely of man’s devising.

One of the problems that has continually dogged the Church is that as persecution dies down, the saints become increasingly comfortable with the culture and the church begins to increasingly resemble the culture. The only defense against this is a robust and disciplined love for God’s word, not simply the “idea” of God’s word, but the actual words, sentences, paragraphs, teachings and themes of the Scripture.

Do you love God’s Word? Is your Christianity, your piety founded upon a faithful study of the words of Christ? Do you make time to know your Bible? Or is your religion simply that of traditions and customs? A religion that resembles the culture is not a religion of the Christ who was crucified for offending the traditions and customs of the society in which He lived. We must each ask ourselves and evaluate is my religion based on “my mama always said” and “I always thought” or “God says in His word?”

Does the Bible Have All the Answers?

Posted by Ryan on January 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Recently, I received an email from the priestess at a congregation my family attended while I was growing up. In her weekly email she made the point that the Bible does not, in fact, have all the answers.

She went on to say that since the writers of the Bible didn’t know about “artificial intelligence or AIDS or the Human Genome Project or socialism or Big Box Stores,” and so on it can’t provide all the answers.

That view of the Scripture is very popular today, particularly in the mainline denominations. Such a view of God’s word is tragic and, of course, man-centered and “sub-Christian.”

As Presbyterians, we heartily believe that the Bible indeed has all of the answers to life’s questions. Our Westminster Confession of Faith states that the Scripture contains “all things necessary for [God’s] own glory, man's salvation, faith and life” as either “expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”

When the authors of the Westminster Standards wrote those words they were making a bold stand against worldliness. They proclaimed that the Bible’s authority and teaching does not simply tell us how to “get saved,” but also how to live our daily life, as well as provides the answers to the “deep things” of life. As such, the Scripture is indispensible to a full life.

Now we are not saying that the Bible has an exhaustive index that includes a heading for every issue and topic known to man. Rather, principles of God’s Word speak to every issue and topic and instruct God’s people how to respond to and evaluate them.

Take for example, “Big Box Stores.” Doesn’t the Bible speak about materialism and the love of stuff? Jesus may not have told a parable featuring a clerk at Best Buy, but

God’s word speaks amply about the love of money, the accumulation of possessions, and concern for the poor and helpless (e.g. Chinese factory workers)?

Sometimes God’s word will give an explicit command regarding an issue (e.g. Murder, Adultery), but more often God’s word gives us principles that we must apply everyday to know how to live as His people.

It is by far much easier to simply assert that God’s word doesn’t have all the answers and then live as is fashionable than to read, study, and search God’s Word to direct your paths.

The Bible does indeed have the answers to the questions of life, but to learn the answers God gives in His word takes a lifetime of devotion and prayerful study of the Scripture.

It is worth the time and effort to know God’s Word, and it is far more rewarding than letting Bill O’Reilly and Rupert Murdoch tell you what to think!