How do we view the Bible?

I was at lunch with a group of friends and one of my closest friends made this statment, 'The problem is that we have made the Bible the fourth person of the Trinity.'  You can imagine the shock on most of our faces.  After plenty of scrambling and conversation, we finally settled down.

But that really had an impact on me.  I just didn't do a lot with it -- just tucked it a way and thought on it from time to time.  That is until recently.

Our men's Bible study group has been reading through the Gospel according to John.  And there it was.  Jesus said, 'You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life.  But the Scriptures point to me' (John 5.39, NLT).  Jesus sounds a lot like my good friend.  Jesus said that the scriptures are a sign.  The Bible is not the answer.  The Bible points to the answer.  It point beyond itself to Christ.  We have made the sign the destination.

If we are placing the Bible in the spot of Jesus, then we have become idolaters.  Too often, in the Christian household (and this is probably true of a lot of other traditions were people use holy books), the Bible has replaced our relationship with Christ.  When we need direction, more times than not, we go to the Bible instead of going to Jesus.

Can you imagine being in a committed relationship with someone and all we do is read the letters that other people wrote when they were in relationship with our spouse/partner/significant other?  Instead of talking with the person we are in relationship with, we just go back and read the letter that their former lover wrote.  I guarantee you that your relationship would not last very long.  And yet, that is what most of us do all the time.  When we want to know what God thinks about any given situation we are facing, we read someone else's story and think that is what God wants from us today.  Has God nothing else to say to us?  Or is God only speaking to us through the writings of others who had a relationship with God?  Is our relationship invalid?

If we are going on a road trip, we do not pull out a map and claim that we have arrived at our destination.  We use the map as our guide in finding our destination.  We are using the map the way it is intended -- as a guide along our journey.  But what if the map is wrong?  What if the roads have changed since the map was made?  What then?  We are left to discover for ourselves the best way of getting to where we need to go. We have to write our own map.  In the tradition of the old map, we merge our map and find our new way to the destination.

Family, we have been robbed.  We have been told that the only 'safe' relationship we can have with the Life within all life is through the writings of others in a book that someone, somewhere in power deemed the only revelation.  We have been told that we can't trust what God, our Loving Father, tells us at a deep level for whatever reason (mostly because of Augustinian theories).

I say we smash our idols!  I say we put them back where they were intended to be all along.  I say we start afresh and ask God to forgive us for being idolaters.  I say we repent and ask for a fresh start in our relationship with the Eternal One in Three.  I say we start looking and listening to God speaking to us all day, every day -- in the words of other people, in ourselves, in nature, and yes, even in the Bible.  But, we must never let the Bible take the place it was never intended to have.

'The Scriptures point to me,' Jesus said.  I say we start listening to Jesus.

In the Grace of the One in Three,

OD

Comments

Robaigh said…
Amen! Very well stated, sir.
Michael said…
Amazing post, Jack. Absolutely on point.
Anglican said…
Excellent post, my friend! Reminds me of this puppet show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwLsvYmR4Mc

"Not this word, THIS Word!"
J.W.M. said…
It's been awhile since I stopped by hereabouts, so let me make only a brief foray. It's fine to say we should not substitute Bible reading for prayer, faith, and love of God. But it's a red herring to blame the problems here on an over-respect for the Bible.

God may use circumstances and other persons to point things out to us, but he only promises to speak to us in Scripture. The problem is not that we have made an idol of the Bible - the problem is that we don't recognize it for what it is, and so we aren't listening.

The Bible is not simply a collection of "letter[s] that [Christ's] former lover wrote." It is his Word to the church of all ages. You can't have a relationship to Christ if you aren't listening to his voice - and that voice comes to us through the Spirit speaking in Scripture.
odysseus said…
Thanks for dropping by, JWM! It HAS been a long time.

While I appreciate your position, it is not the only position on the table. Some people hold to the view you hold. But others do not.

Who says that '[God] only promises to speak to us in Scripture'? What did the people do before they had the Bible? Was their relationship with God invalid? What about people who do not have access to a Bible? Does God not speak to them? And which Bible? Since we don't have the original manuscripts how are we certain that the texts we have are accurate? For longer than ther has been a Bible, God spoke to his people. It is US who has now limited God.

That is the way I see it, anyway. I'm sure that there are other ways of seeing it, too.

In the Grace of the Three in One,

OD

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