Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Doctrine of Firefly

A few years ago, there was a science fiction series on television called Firefly. It was highly entertaining, but the network quickly canceled it. It wasn’t perfect, but I won’t go into all of that. I do want to mention one episode, Jaynestown.

The B plot of this episode has the characters River and Shepherd Book back on the ship. Shepherd is a preacher. River is a super smart woman who has been driven to near insanity by the government. She gets a hold of Shepherd’s Bible and decides that she is going to fix it. She starts tearing out pages as she goes because she finds things that she believes are incorrect, things like creation and the ark protecting the animals from the great flood. Shepherd tells her that the Bible doesn’t have to make sense because it is really just about believing in something. Later, she tells him that she is sorry that she tore the pages out of his symbol and she wants to put them back.

Obviously, Shepherd is not a good preacher. Rather than showing River that her understanding of the Bible is flawed, he essentially agrees with her that it doesn’t make sense and tells her that it is about believing in something. From other episodes, we find that his doctrine is simply that everyone should believe in something. He doesn’t care what, but everyone should believe in something. That is a fool’s doctrine that will lead a man straight to hell and yet there are many people who have accepted that doctrine or something very similar.

Many people see Christianity as nothing more than a bunch of symbols and a set of rituals to follow. When a scientific theory appears to discredit what the Bible says, instead of taking the time to figure out what is wrong with the scientific theory or what is wrong with their understanding of what the Bible says, people assume that the scientific theory must be correct and relegate the Bible to being no more than a symbol of our faith. If that is what the Bible is, then what are we putting out faith in? Many people have the idea that it is okay to believe something that isn’t true. They seem to have the idea that the Bible isn’t really true, but we show our faith in God by believing it anyway. It is impossible for us to believe something that we do not believe and yet there are people who have the idea that if we put our faith in something that isn’t true then we will get into heaven. They have the idea that by going through the motions of worship they will somehow be pleasing to God. What God?

If the Bible is nothing more than the words of men, then what good is it? What authority did these men have to tell about God? Would it not be better to declare ourselves as gods? Even if the Bible is the inspired word of God but it is incorrect, what good is God if he can’t even give us an accurate history of the world? We might as well make one up that we like better. What good is a law given by an imperfect God?

Fortunately, the Bible is accurate; it is the inspired word of God. In its pages, we discover Jesus, the person we are to trust to save us from our sins. It isn’t about believing in something or anything, it is about believing in Jesus. We are not to believe because we are told to believe; we are to believe because he has the power to save us.