God Says it…That Settles it?

Bumper sticker theology?

Now truth be told, I must admit that I too am guilty of using the very same reductionistic argument in an adult church-school class or two in the past—and ashamedly, I believe it may have even made it into a sermon at one point! But can’t we do better? Doesn’t the Bible speak with greater precision, beauty, and delight than mere duty? Is there more to be said than “God said it, and that settles it?”

 

I’m sure many of us can recall the couple-decade old bumper stickers which read, “God says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Or perhaps fewer of us still remember the gospel recordings of 40+ years ago of Christian performers singing some variation of the same slogan. While bumper-sticker theology and cheesy Christian music of yesteryear isn’t exactly the highest hanging fruit on the theological tree, unfortunately the typical response to this Christian catchphrase still makes the rounds in reformed and evangelical churches today. When the, “God says it, I believe it, that settles it” cliché is trotted out in our churches, we typically hear the just as tired rebuttal of: “God says it…that settles it! Whether I believe it or not doesn’t change the fact.” Case closed, right? Bumper sticker theology soundly silenced with slightly longer bumper sticker theology. (Maybe we just need to reduce the font size so it’ll all fit?)

Now truth be told, I must admit that I too am guilty of using the very same reductionistic argument in an adult church-school class or two in the past—and ashamedly, I believe it may have even made it into a sermon at one point! But can’t we do better? Doesn’t the Bible speak with greater precision, beauty, and delight than mere duty? Is there more to be said than “God said it, and that settles it?”

Duty

Surely the scriptures speak with an authoritative voice, and that speaking is definitive. After all, Jesus tells a parable to his disciples in Luke 17 which is about a servant who is required to do all that the master commands, concluding with the statement, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10). Additionally, Jesus summarizes our love for him as an obedient love when he says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And if we can rightly be referred to as God’s slaves (Romans 6:22), will be welcomed into his glorious rest as faithful servants (Matt. 25:23), and are called upon to obey “because it is right” (Eph. 6:1, 2 Thess. 1:3), then surely there is a place for appealing to mere duty. But what I am advocating for in this post, and what the scriptures certainly advocate for throughout their pages, is a more robust rationale for our obedience than bare command.

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