Whole Bible Christianity

It's a God Thing


Absolute Truth Christian Survey - "Our survey says: Christians reject the Bible"

Pragmatism rules three out of four people in the Church

Apology for teaching truth to those who don't want it

I've got to say sorry to those I've led as an elder for teaching the Bible as absolute truth. I should've been more aware that church-goers are not the same as believers. I should've been more aware of the people in the country clubs wanting to force leaders into a mold that keeps them feeling comfortable. I should've been more aware that church "bible study" is really dogma study. And I should've been more aware of the fickle nature of those who wear His name and just play a game.

Educating beyond a willingness to obey

Several church leaders have told me that I shouldn't educate church-goers beyond their ability to obey. After much teaching, individually and in groups as a lay leader and an elder, I have to modify that statement. It should be rather that we have to be careful not to teach beyond a person's willingness to obey. Then they get angry and want to throw you out of the church. Obedience is actually easy. But the natural man does not receive spiritual things, and sadly there are way too many natural men (and women) in the church.

The Same Old Dogma Won't Do

More of the same teaching current in the modern church won't make a difference. It will not strengthen faith or produce the fruit of the Spirit. Obviously.

Sniffing the Wind

Imagery used by God to describe Israel as they similarly drifted away from God was of a wild donkey or young camel sniffing the wind looking for any mate. This picture fits anyone who runs away from His absolute truth searching for self satisfaction very well. We run from the life of His truth towards anything that will make us feel better. In the long run there is no satisfaction in the self. Only in His truth, uncomfortable as it might be at first.

Hearts of Stone

Quarreling with His Word, denying the absolute nature and instead coming up with all sorts of reasons not to listen or obey, either hardens the heart or is a sign of a heart already hardened. Listen to His truth; adjust your ways to His ways. His absolute truth is also absolute life and absolute blessing. We must allow His life and truth to change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, soft and faithful and true.

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Absolute Truth Missing In Action Among Most Christians

22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’(Matthew 7:22-23, last part quoted from Psalms 6:8 and 119:115; NASB95)

The Church is Growing in Size But Not In Spirit

Okay, if you subscribe to the Barna Research Updates you knew this was coming. Most of you know me well enough that when you saw the recent update (Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth On Feelings), you had to be thinking, "Oh boy, I bet Bruce isn't gonna leave this one alone." Click HERE to read our capture of it or connect directly to their website (www.barna.org).

Well, I hate to disappoint all my friends, or even my non-friends (I hesitate to use the term enemies). Except this might be a little bit of a surprise, because I'm going to ask for something from some of you. To those who have been offended before by my comments in their email (or in person), please grant me forgiveness. I am at fault for including you in an attempted discussion, and I should have known better. Here I was handing out my viewpoint, and I wasn't even aware that some of us are speaking different languages.

When I write or speak, I am always trying to grope my way towards the truth because I know I haven't completely grasped it all yet. But I do believe there is an absolute truth to grope for ("thy Word is Truth"). By absolute I mean final, authoritative, and complete; and implied in the concept is the power and authority to back it up. Or, according to George Barna of Barna Research, "truth that doesn't change according to circumstances." You see, I believe the entire Bible is the inspired, complete, inerrant WORD FROM GOD; "absolute truth" as it were. And God Himself is the power and authority behind it. I admit I don't have the final word on what all of it means, much less how it applies. But by taking the plain meaning and comparing it to our practice, I had hoped to create dialogue that will take us to a better understanding together.


Christian Unbelief

However, according to the recent data from Barna, boy was I stupid. I have been really, really wrong with some of you, perhaps most of you, and I can't apologize enough. According to the survey, Barna found that most people, "born again" or not, do not believe in absolute truth (about 3 out of 4, or 78% of the population). I would have thought that the "Church" had a higher percentage of people seeking truth gathered under one roof, but apparently that is not true.

Born Again Just a Doctrinal Statement

According to the survey only about three in ten people who claim "born-again status" believe in absolute truth. As a matter of fact the "born again-ers" hardly differ at all from the non-born again (there's another article in that statement somewhere). The majority of people right now, this instant, are convinced that "truth is relative," and they make their decisions based on what "feels right" or "would produce the most personally beneficial results."

The Waning Strength of the Church

So all this time I have been mistaken, because I assumed that I was talking to a group of people who pretty much wanted to understand and apply absolute truth. I made this mistake once before, a couple of years ago, when I was teaching publicly. I had thought that the people I was speaking too were like "the Bereans" (Acts 17:10-12), and I made some statements intended to promote discussion. But I was wrong, because out of every ten people I talked with then, or write to now, only about two believe in absolute moral truth. It's almost like I was (or am) speaking in tongues.

Now, I'm not saying that disagreement with me is the same as rejecting absolute truth. But if we're going to disagree, we should at least base it in the truth rather than opinions. Though come on guys, let's face it, let's be real, those of you who have disagreed with me, who have silently listened to or read what I was trying to say and refused to respond, or responded second hand through other people, we haven't really disagreed on the Word, have we? We've just been arguing from two different belief structures. The thing is, we should be trying to understand the Word Of God, and not arguing over feelings, opinions, or what will "produce the most personally beneficial result" as some people do.

In the survey, Mr. Barna goes on to say, "Christian families, educators and churches must prioritize this matter if the Christian community hopes to have any distinctiveness in our culture. The virtual disappearance of this cornerstone of the Christian faith - that is, God has communicated a series of moral principles in the Bible that are meant to be the basis of our thoughts and actions, regardless of our preferences, feelings or situations - is probably the best indicator of the waning strength of the Christian Church in America today."

More of the Same Not The Answer

And more of what we already have is not the answer, either. George says, "Continuing to preach more sermons, teach more Sunday school classes and enroll more people in Bible study groups won't solve the problem since most of these people don't accept the basis of the principles being taught in those venues. The failure to address this issue at its root, and to do so quickly and persuasively, will undermine the strength of the church for at least another generation, and probably longer."

Pragmatism Rules the Church

There you have it, an independent, objective source telling us the results of decades of retreat from teaching (and practicing) the basic principles in the Word. I think it's obvious that we have been so good at finding excuses to avoid obedience we have crippled ourselves with success. Whatever you want to call the doctrine currently being taught in the so-called "Church," IT'S NOT WORKING. It is taking us further away from the Father instead of bringing us closer. Look at the fruit of the doctrines!

I have watched TV programs such as "Friends" several times; maybe you've watched them also. I usually can't stand them for very long because they are so inane, but I have seen a few episodes. It amazes me to see stupid people doing stupid things over and over again, and they just don't get it that the truth is right in front of them. For instance, none of the characters is ever able to find a good romantic relationship. Every week they find a new partner, only to have the relationship come apart in the next few episodes. And sometimes they don't even wait till the next episode.

Again and again, through an (apparently) endless parade of 'significant others' they keep making the same mistakes week after week. They don't see that the reason these relationships never work out is because they keep disobeying God's law and having sex outside of marriage. Sometimes I just wanted to scream it out hoping they would hear me. It's an accepted fact that they are supposed to jump in the sack with anybody they meet, even though this NEVER works to keep a relationship together and is usually the reason why it falls apart in the first place. The relationships keep blowing up over and over, and they just can't find satisfaction or a life-mate. Duh!

The girl characters are especially stupid in this fashion. I don't know, I guess I just expect more smarts from them in this area than the guys since they have more to lose. Of course, the writers have a lot to do with it but you've got to admit they are mirroring real life at least a little. The characters meet a guy, jump in the sack a few times, and then wonder why he dumped them. Man, you would think that after two or three times they would figure it out. "Gee, what do you think, maybe I shouldn't give it up until after I get a commitment from this lug," huh? My Dad used to say, "If they're getting the milk for free, why buy the cow?" But the girls keep giving it away for free, and keep wondering why the guys won't "buy" the commitment cow. With this kind of smarts it's no wonder we have Presidents who redefine the word sex and get away with it.

The Church is No Different Than The World

Unfortunately, the Church is doing the same things, only it's worse with us because we already have a husband. We depart from obedience to His basic scriptural principles, give away the farm, don't even bother to get commitment first (we're not even selling it for anything worthwhile), then the next thing you know the relationship is blowing up. Not only the relationship between our husband and us is wrecked, but also whatever else we thought to gain from the exchange blows up. You would think that after two or three times we would figure it out, but we don't even have the grace to blush. We go on "sniffing the wind" (Jeremiah 2:23-25) like a wild camel in her month (or like a character on a sitcom), departing from the boundaries given by God in His Love for our benefit, and wandering the wild pastures looking for the next bed-mate.

23“How can you say, ‘I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley! Know what you have done! You are a swift young camel entangling her ways, 24A wild donkey accustomed to the wilderness, That sniffs the wind in her passion. In the time of her heat who can turn her away? All who seek her will not become weary; In her month they will find her. 25“Keep your feet from being unshod And your throat from thirst; But you said, ‘It is hopeless! No! For I have loved strangers, And after them I will walk.’  (Jeremiah 2:23-25 NASB95)

What We Must Do

The only solution is to return to the pastures within His boundaries. Restore His Instructions (Torah) to their rightful place in our faith and practice. Simple obedience is what God requires of us, and He has given us all the strength and power to obey through our Husband the Messiah Jesus. (2016 Update: Our book Whole Bible Christianity gives the arguments for a return.)

6Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, 8Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, 9“When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work.  (Psalm 95:6-9 NASB95)

25Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 26But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one." (John 10:25-30 NASB95)

"I will have them feed in good pastures; their grazing ground will be on the high mountains of Israel. They will rest in good grazing ground and feed in rich pastures on Israel's mountains. Yes, I will pasture my sheep; and I will let them rest," says Adonai Elohim. "I will seek the lost, bring back the outcasts, bandage the broken, and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy - I will feed them with judgment." As for you, my flock, Adonai Elohim says this: 'I will judge between sheep and other sheep, between rams and billy-goats.'" (Ezekiel 34:14-17 Complete Jewish Bible)

So I really do apologize to those of you who speak a different language than I do. Please forgive me, and feel free to send me a request to be removed from the list for future transmissions.

In loving hope of a return to better pastures,
Bruce Scott Bertram

46No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. (Matthew 22:46 NASB95)

26And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent. (Luke 20:26 NASB95)