Is your theology built on an excuse?


We can’t “boyd” the Bible?

My boys have now mastered something I first noticed a few years ago.  I can’t find a specific word for this precise trick so I have come to call it the “boyd.”  (Yes I made the word boy a past tense verb.)  Here is what they do.

Sometimes I ask the kids to do something like clean their room, so let’s go with this for our example.  After receiving the parental mandate they head upstairs and start the cleaning process.  Let’s say I adjust the task delineation and ask one of the boys to help mom vacuum.   So I call upstairs to one of my sons, “Come here, I need your help with something.”  He then comes downstairs and starts helping mom.  After awhile I walk back upstairs and enter into the boys’ room to find my eldest reading a book.  As I get him in trouble for disobeying he states, “Dad you told us to clean our room, but Nate isn’t cleaning so I figured I didn’t have to either.”  Did you catch what happened?  He assumed that the exception I granted his brother negated the primary objective, thus freeing him from this harsh chore.  This seems silly at face value, and it ought to.  Of course any reasonable person would assume that I still wanted my eldest son to finish the task unless I clearly pulled him away from it.   This type of behavior I have come to call the “boyd” because my boys are so good at it.

We do this too.  We find clear teachings in the Bible like baptism and then use the thief on the cross who is promised paradise as an excuse to abdicate us from this same practice throughout the rest of Christian history.  This is a wrong interpretation of Scripture.  We should keep the same course until there is a clear Biblical redirection.  Kosher foods for example would be a clear redirection.  Peter clearly teaches that those rules have changed.

So here is the question we must wrestle with:  When the Bible offers a clear directive and you think you can find possible exception(s) to a teaching, does this allow us to abandon the clear teaching offered in the text?

What is the clear teaching in Scripture?

Is there a clear Christian-wide redirectional teaching in these supposed exceptions?

I believe it possible some Christians are hanging some of their core beliefs on a “boyd”.

25 thoughts on “Is your theology built on an excuse?

  1. Mike,
    “Boyd” is that ever true! Good to have a word & concept to nail it!!
    As I head into a long day of appts, this may be very helpful…”boyd” I hope so!!

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Great points Mike! I wonder how many people ‘boyd’, are immature believers, because they’ve never read the bible in it’s entirety? I know after I did that my faith and maturity in Christ grew exponentially.

  3. Matt I agree. Though the more I work through this idea I am certain some adherer to bias ideals because they like them, not because they are primary in scripture. They will build their whole theological perspective off of a single phrase, though, or event and miss the general themes in the Bible.

  4. Do you think tithing falls into the boyd category? We read in Scripture about bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse, but then people argue that Christ’s sacrifice atoned for our sins and therefore we not longer need to sacrifice – and the tithe was part of the sacrificial system.

  5. I agree that the bible does in some cases seem to set up an ideal rather than an exceptionless standard. Keeping the sabbath seems like that. It seems to me that some observant Jews have tried to turn it into an exceptionless standard, while most Christians (in honesty, I’m guilty here!) have acted as if Jesus abolished the ideal altogether. For some reason, both groups are uncomfortable with an *ideal* that is not a *rule*–even when, like the sabbath, it’s kind of a nice ideal. Perhaps respecting, venerating, and following an ideal of this sort brings a person closer to God. Conforming to an ideal maybe requires a person to put his heart into it–to have a right motivation and understanding of the point of the ideal rather than just mindlessly following orders. Maybe people are a little bit afraid of what might happen if they did that–you know, put their heart into it and drew near to God in their mind and heart rather than just making a list of things to do or ignoring God altogether.

  6. Primary teaching is sometimes difficult in light of our church traditions. The fullness of the life in Christ described in sweeping terms in Col 2, gives direct instruction to believers. The primary teaching here is to not allow anyone to judge a believer based on food, drink, celebrations or sabbath days. Yet the same author said in 1 Cor 8 that he does not want to eat meat if it makes a brother stumble. Both of course can be true and followed by the believer, but now enter church tradition that draws lines on these matters and you wind up with conflicts about primary teachings much less exceptions. Of course, technically, what we are talking about as primary teaching are not really essential doctrines of the faith, even though they are important issues. Tithing, sabbaths, drinking, dress are all non-essentials. It is in non-essentials where these debates often center. What examples of essential doctrine exceptions exist?

    1. This might be an example of essential doctrine exceptions: There is a strain of pentacostal holiness called oneness. They believe that the trinity was a concept created by man, because the word trinity is not in Scripture. Although there are so many opportunities in Scripture to see the trinity (even if the word is not used), they choose to focus on the fact that the word is not there.

      Believing that when Jesus said that he and the Father were one, that it meant they were one and indivisibly so. As a result of this belief, they baptize in Jesus’ name only.

  7. An area where ‘boyding’ happens a lot I think is in eschatology. Single phrases or images are taken and expanded to whole traditions. For example, when was the last time you were ok with using the number 666?

  8. One example of boyding the bible I’ve encountered is found in Luke 18:29-30 (specifically, “In this life”). Many preachers have used this verse along with Matthew 19:29 (specifically a hundredfold) as a defense of expecting wealth from God in return for our sacrifice. Not only do they ignore the whole of scripture concept that God is after our heart and not our stuff (see Hosea 6:6). But also they tend to ignore the other gospel verse similar to it (Mark 10:29-30) and specifically the phrase “along with persecutions.” Who ever heard of the “Health, Wealth, and Persecution Gospel”?

  9. As a parent we expect our children to know the truth of our request. So does God expect the same out of us? As a follower of Christ we should know the truth of the issues that are truly important. Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is there for, to convict us? Say your child truly did not know that you wanted him to continue cleaning his room. In a perfect world he would have came to you and asked if he should continue on doing the job set before him. So do we as believers go to Christ every time we begin to question what God desires for us or do we assume we know the answer?

  10. Mike, I’ve always felt a good rule of thumb on boy’d is that the only true gospel is one that can be preached in the deepest mosquito infested swampy jungles, on the driest wind swept desert dunes, and in the most humanly prestigious and stodgy institutions of the developed world. All else is a man made concoction. To echo some previous commenters, how a person dresses, whether they drink alcohol (in moderation) or smoke, even dare I say perfect Sunday attendance (can we settle the issue here that the Sabbath is properly on Saturday and the Hebrews says Jesus is our Sabbath rest?), or a myriad of other issues are all made-up and not found in the Bible.

    Liturgy is great example where we fall into boy’ding. Catholics and Catholic-lite (Lutherans) congregations with their traditions, use of Lent or allegorizing of scripture. A personal bugaboo of mine is the lack of prophecy teaching by leaders and searching by believers. Approx. 30% of the Bible is prophecy yet very little of it is taught in church. Can we excuse ourselves from it’s study because our church leaders have done so? Boy’ding! Or how about the bias’s preachers, pastors and ministers pick up because of the seminary or colleges they attended? ‘Well this is what we were taught.’ Boy’d.

    Another one: Go ye therefore into all the world (ouch, my toes just got stepped on!). I understand that we are all parts of one body and that some are called to foreign lands. But sincerely, how many of us have shared with our co-workers? Do our co-workers even know that we are believers? Am I someone whom others believe they can approach about these eternal decisions? If not, is my excuse that others don’t do it? I wasn’t taught how to do it? Frankly a fish sticker on my car or a cross hanging from a necklace is a cop-out excuse for the real work of the gospel.

    I spent some time in the more charismatic side of our faith many years ago. Speaking in tongues was pounded into my head. Er, that is I must display what they considered to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Without fail, group think took over and there was lots of it occurring all around me. But when I challenged the leaders on it, no one could provide me sound Bible doctrine. I found a brilliant word study on the topic of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues and it cleared the air quickly though not to the congregations liking. I am dubious as to whether the others within that congregation had actually done their own study and concluded that their course was right or if they were playing follow the leader.

    How about forgiveness? How many times we’ve seen people unable to forgive the way scripture admonishes and will point to others in their life as their example. I wrestled mightily with that for years. But the Lord was faithful and properly discipled me on it.

    Let’s talk about money: Our society, even after the Great Recession, is still addicted to credit. We want things when we want them and are unwilling to wait. Boy’d: that’s how our parents did it. Boy’d: that’s how everyone else is doing it. Boy’d: the US Govt. does it worst of all. But that’s not how the Bible says we are to live.

    I could go on and on. The examples are easy to find with others. Its allowing the Spirit to speak to the inmost parts of me to root out the boy’ding parts of my walk. But let me leave you with this thought: I sincerely believe that most people don’t fully practice their faith because they don’t fully understand their position in Christ. If we knew who we were (our position) then we would live it out radically (practice). We are sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are seated next to Christ on his throne. We are royalty, bought out of slavery by the blood of our Kinsman Redeemer and will one day rule with Him as Kings and Priests. That alone ought to radically transform our lives and those around us.

  11. Acts 4:32. ‘BOYD’ city. From government people to Christian leaders extrapolate this into all kinds of support of collectivist policy…a big one.

      1. Yes, these verses in Daniel 9 are VERY uncertain as to their translation or meaning. However, many people have taken them and combined them with other unrelated verses and come up with a great tribulation of 7 years in the future where a world leader will make a contract with Israel and break it in 3.5 years. This set of doctrines resulted in a series of best selling books called ‘Left Behind’ that many people read as telling the future history of our planet. Very unfortunate.

      2. Mike, Dan’s reply to my clarification request sheds an interesting light on your quest for examples of Christians passing off their omissions or commissions of unbiblical boy’ding. What I mean is that it seems to me he and I stand on opposite ends of the eschatological equation. I cannot speak for him but I have spent years studying prophecy both fulfilled and yet to pass. If boyd behavior is a presumption of things or a perpetuation of traditions without seeking the Lord’s face on the matter, scouring scripture and settling it for ourselves, then eschatology is a dicey topic. But this raises a question: How much do we assume (key word there, assume) others blindly commit or omit without being Bereans? Assumptions are curious things.

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