The issue can be settled into two terms: the Bible teaches truth but it does not teach thepath. These two terms are Bonhoeffer’s and emerged from the intense discussions in the Confessing Church on whether their pastors should pursue legalization under Hitler or remain “illegal” and dependent on free will offerings by the parishes that called them and would support them.
The debate was about what the Bible tells us about. Here are Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s salient words about the need for discernment on the basis of truth, but that discernment meant there was no fixed path:
The other misunderstanding concerning scriptural evidence stems from the same root: one now looks to justify our paths not for the past but for the future. We expect from Scripture such concrete directives that we are released from acting on faith; one wants to see the path before walking on it. One demands the certainty that the path will certainly be pleasing to God before starting the journey. One says: if we could be absolutely certain on the basis of Scripture that the path of the Council of Brethren is pleasing to God, then we would follow it. Demonstrate this from Scripture and we will follow. Thus I want to have the scriptural evidence in my pocket as the guarantee for my path.But the Bible can never fulfill this kind of request either, because it is not intended to be an insurance policy for our paths, which may become dangerous.The Bible does only one thing: it calls us to faith and obedience in the truth that we know in Jesus Christ. Scripture points not to our paths but to the truth of God.
Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.