Guideline 5: Avoid “The Bible says” . . . because it doesn’t.
This is the one that stood out to me. This phrase is an obstacle to faith that is unnecessary. Do people need to believe in the inerrancy or infallibility of Scripture to be saved? Actually, no. People were becoming believers before the Gospels were even written. In Acts 15 the Gentiles were not given a requirement relating to the Scriptures for their salvation. They were not even told to read the Old Testament, in fact, quite the opposite in some respects.
I hope that you believe in inerrancy and have a high view of the Bible, but that is not a pre-requisite for faith. Most unchurched people are bombarded with a very negative view of the Bible in popular media.
So Andy Stanley suggests a fresh approach to talking about the text that doesn’t make it harder than necessary for the unchurched to come to faith. He suggests not referring to it as a book, since in the minds of the unchurched the Bible is not a book in the normal sense of the term (and God didn’t write it in the way that a normal author writes a book). Stanley suggests developing terminology that refers to the Bible as the miracle that it is – a collection of documents by over forty human authors written over more than fifteen hundred years and yet telling one coherent story.
A large part of why people think the Bible is full of contradictions and unreliable myths, etc., is because they have only heard Christians refer to it as God’s book (when it is obviously different authors in different times writing in different genre). If we start to explain the reality of what it is, people are more likely to engage it and realize how good it is, instead of dismissing it based on “insider” terminology. So Stanley writes, “Don’t talk about it like it is a divinely inspired book. It’s not. It is a collection of divinely inspired manuscripts.”
This means citing authors rather than simply, “the Bible.” So instead of saying “The Bible says Jesus rose from the dead,” why not list the eyewitnesses that saw and recorded accounts of their seeing the risen Christ? The first statement is a claim dismissible due to the prevailing view of the Bible. The latter approach draws people into the reality of the evidence that we have in the Bible.
Stanley is not showing a low view of the Bible. He is arguing that we should do nothing to keep people from hearing the gospel. Part of that process is making the Bible as accessible as possible so people will hear what it says, rather than creating an obstacle that hinders hearing. I think he has a point.