Most of the people I hang out with love the Bible. They read it every day and promote it whenever they can. But lately I've been thinking about those who don't like the Bible. How should the Christian community respond to them?
In a recent interview in TIME Magazine, Ian McKellen, the actor who masterfully plays Gandalf in the new movie The Hobbit (as well as in the Lord of the Rings movies), said that as a long-time gay rights advocate he regularly rips Leviticus 18 out of hotel Bibles. A self-admitted atheist, McKellan has sometimes attacked the credibility of the Bible in his public interviews. So how should those who love God's Word respond to such high-profile opposition?
It's a tricky issue, but I believe if we respond in a Christlike way, Christians may be able to turn public criticism of the Bible into effective promotion of it. So let me offer three simple ways we can do this.
- First, we need to be regular Bible readers ourselves. It does no good to tell the world to do something the church is failing to do. And to honest, recent studies of Bible reading among church-goers show that we have a lot of work to do here.
- Second, we need to make sure the tone of our response is loving. I disagree with Mr. McKellen on his views of the Bible, but if I respond as an "angry Bible reader," then I've missed the point; I'm only a "resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
- Third, we need to pray for those who reject the Bible. In spite of how it appears, Ian McKellen may be spiritually searching. I'm no psychologist, but I know that sometimes external resistance can mask an internal question. I also know that if we ever hope to see "Bible reading revival," then Bible groupies like me need to become more effective at reaching out to Bible bashers like McKellen.
In an odd way, Mr. McKellen's interview may have promoted Bible reading. Thousands of TIME readers are likely to dust off their Bibles to find out what Leviticus 18 says. I admit, it's not the easiest place to begin, but it's a start.
So if you decide to watch The Hobbit over the next few weeks, use it as a reminder to pray for Ian McKellen and anyone else you know who's skeptical about the Bible. Ask God to reveal his love and truth to them, perhaps through you, in a fresh new way.