Oftentimes as discussions begin about the Bible, whether they be among brethren or with the non-Christian, it has become commonplace for Christians to use certain phrases that simply should not be a part of our vocabulary when discussing Scripture. If we are going to be credible servants of God, we must stop using these phrases in our religious discourse. Please consider them with me.
“I Think…” On almost every occasion where a Bible discussion starts, someone opens up with the phrase “I think ______,” or “I believe ______.” Allow me to be candid, with all the love in my heart, and inform you that, in matters of religious discussion, nobody cares what you think. Peter stated: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). We are to be able to answer the reasons we have hope within us, having sanctified (set apart) God in our hearts.
If our answers to religious questions or conversations begin with “I think” we have just told the person that what we are about to say carries no more weight or impact than what they already believe, because it is simply our opinion. “I think” bears no authority, it gives no incentive to listen, or consider more carefully. It does not matter what I think, what matters is what God says. If I am proclaiming what God says, then what I think does not enter into the equation, nor should it be used to tarnish the message being presented. When we seek to present God’s Word we must hold it up as such; show the evidence from Scripture where God says this and why it must be so, but let it never be said that the reason for my hope is because “I think.”
“My preacher says…” Equally as bad as telling someone you are going to present them your opinions is telling them you are going to present them someone else’s. Preachers are often held up as the sources of understanding and wisdom: they are not. They are men, no more, no less. They may, in some instances, be highly educated and highly intelligent men, but they are still only men. Therefore, their thoughts alone carry no more authority behind them than anyone else’s.
Preachers can also be wrong. Paul stated, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Just because a preacher says it does not mean it is true; hence the reason John admonished, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Nothing you tell someone religiously should be because that is what your preacher says; it must be because it is what the Scriptures teach. If what the preacher says is the Word of God, he is nothing more than the mouthpiece presenting it and as such the acknowledgment should go to God, not the preacher. If the preacher’s teaching does not mesh with Scripture, then man is under obligation from God to ignore what man says and cling to the truth of his Word. Arguing religious matters by invoking a preacher (and the same holds true for commentators and “scholars”) is fallacious and dangerous, for it tells others we are basing our beliefs on those of another man.
“That is just your opinion.” This has become a frequent rejoinder for many Christians when faced with lessons on difficult topics or moral issues. The obvious intent is to show the statements presented to be without authority and thereby non-binding. This response is especially frequent in matters of modesty, moral righteousness, and daily Christian living. The problem is this response is ultimately useless and shows lack of care or consideration on the part of the speaker.
If the things stated by the preacher, or anyone else for that matter, are stated with the weight of Biblical evidence, having shown with Scripture and proper application God’s judgments and decrees on the matter, then it is not the presenter’s opinion: it is the Lord’s; and to try to relegate God’s Word to man’s opinion is disingenuous and foolish.
If the speaker states something with no Biblical evidence or authority, responding with this phrase is equally useless. One has done nothing to teach, correct, or provoke thought, but simply been dismissive and aloof. If an individual is teaching his opinion, not Scripture, and misapplying or distorting truth; it is our responsibility to provide the Scriptural evidence to show why those things are opinion and not binding by Scripture. However, it is useless to simply cry out, “Opinion!”
These three phrases must disappear from the Christian’s vocabulary and be replaced with a solid vernacular based in Biblical authority; for it is our influence and reputation as God’s people that is on the line. Additionally, and of even greater importance, we will be held accountable for the way we have used God’s Word and upheld him before men (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Therefore, let us always remember the inspired statement of the apostle Peter, when he wrote: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 4:11).