Using the phrase, “to google something,” has become a commonly accepted figure of speech for “searching for something online,” whether someone is actually using the Google search engine or not. It carries with it the meaning of seeking to find information from a massive online database whereby questions or curiosities may be settled.
While this usage is of immense value on many different levels, there is one area that one should be immensely cautious in “googling:” the area of religious doctrine and practice. You see, it has become commonplace in today’s society to simply look across the broad spectrum of information available through massive online databases in search of the preacher, commentator, or author that is going to give someone the answer he or she desires to the question under consideration. The reasoning may be lousy, the logical processes non-existent, and the arguments may simply be a re-hashing of what one person has heard from another; but if it gives the answers one is looking for, it is too often considered sufficient.
When it comes to matters of belief and practice, should we not be much more careful in our quests for discovery? Should it not be the case that, instead of travelling into the endless shallows of man’s wisdom, we delve into the depths of God’s? It is about time we stop worrying so much about what so-and-so says about it and instead focus more on what God says.
When was the last time you “googled” God’s Word first in seeking the answers to Biblical questions? If you have access to the internet, you have access to the greatest level of biblical resources in the history of mankind. Your ability to understand God’s Word is limited only by your own desire and the amount of time you are willing to devote to it. There are many good translation tools, language tools, dictionary tools, and others as well (many of them free) that make it possible to read, study and understand God’s Word as he gave it.
If you want to know what a word means in Scripture: do not go to Mr. I’m-Smarter-Than-You-Because-I-Have-A-Ph.D., find the word in the original language by means of a concordance or interlinear translation and look it up for yourself. If you want to understand a concept or topic as used in the Bible: do not look up what “[insert religious group] preachers say about [insert concept/topic].” Look up what God said about it. See what the words pertaining to that topic mean, where they are found in Scripture, what the Bible says about the purposes, applications, and interactions of the concept/topic, and whether or not they are always used in the same way for the same purpose.
These things can be done with every word, phrase, or topic in the Bible. This does not mean that commentaries, articles, and the like do not have their place (hence the reason for the writing of this one), especially in areas of background knowledge about ancient societies that are foreign to us today. However, if the only reason you believe something is because a preacher or commentator said it, your faith is not truly in God and his Word, but in the preacher or writer from which you read it.
I have found over the years that the Bible is its own best commentary. God has given us everything we need to be able to know and understand his will for us. Some areas are more difficult than others, some require more time and effort to understand; but we have to be willing to overcome our own tendencies toward laziness and study it for ourselves, not rely on someone else’s studies for our own pseudo-understanding.
So, have you “googled” God’s Word recently?