Read Luke 11:37-42
37 As Jesus was speaking,one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him,”You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish,but inside you are filthy-full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor,and you will be clean all over.
42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe,yes,but do not neglect the more important things. (NLT)
We sometimes hear people say that a certain thought or piece of teaching is ‘not biblical’. This is powerful stuff: no follower of Jesus wants to be unbiblical. But sadly,such attacks are often misguided. It would be more truthful for the person to say,”I don’t agree with how you understand the Bible”. The accusation of being ‘unbiblical’ is sometimes just another way of saying to someone that you strongly disagree with them. And at the same time it gives the speaker of those words some sort of assumed spiritual authority.
Just what is biblical is not easy to define. The Pharisees thought they were being biblical in how they observed their traditions and customs. Jesus tells them they are merely being selective in their application of Scripture. And this arises out of an inadequate grasp of the Scriptures.
Measuring what is ‘biblical’ according to certain key texts or pet doctrines is hazardous. We might get some things right and others wrong,as did those Pharisees. We need to carefully consider the entirety of Scripture,and to humbly realise that no one of us has a monopoly on being ‘biblical’. We get some things right and some things wrong. We emphasise some things and dismiss other things. We can learn from others who differ rather than direct accusations at them.
Without humility and teachability,being ‘biblical’ may just be another way of being arrogant.