The Sin of Overstating Scripture

ONSERVATIVE Christians carefully avoid neglecting clear biblical truths. We Bible-believing evangelicals don’t want to ignore what is plainly in the Bible. But sometimes we go a bit too far. While we have an aversion to understating the truth, we can have an attraction for overstating it. And that seems to be okay.

It really isn’t okay. It’s as much a sin to go beyond Scripture as it is to fall short of what it tells us. I don’t mean having biblically informed values that are not themselves clear in Scripture. It’s fine to have personal or even institutional principles. I’m talking about being dogmatic about things that are beyond the biblical text.

The Apostle John addresses both understating and overstating Scripture when he writes, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, which are written about in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19, CSB). The Apostle Paul makes a similar point when he says that didn’t act deceitfully or distort God’s Word, but rather gave a clear and open statement of the truth (2 Cor. 4:2).

We’re not God’s editors. He’s not waiting for our subtractions or additions. He went to print a long time ago.

But sometimes it can feel spiritual to add to the Bible, can’t it? Don’t. It is isn’t. Jesus called those who added to Scripture vipers and white-washed tombs. Just stick with the Bible. As a friend of mine likes to explain it, “Say what the Bible says, not more, not less, for the same reasons the Bible says it.”