Q.: Are our thoughts about The Bible more important than what it says about us?
My answer would be Both “Yes and No.”
Really? Yep, really.
First, the “yes”, why I say it- and what I or someone else may consider more important.
As has often been argued with great sense and reason (yeah, yeah, modernist and Greek philosophy ‘eh…?:) our own individual and/or shared interpretation of the Book absolutely renders it -in practical terms-, true or false, beneficial or ridiculous, helpful or harmful.
There are any number of verses that bring one to the same basic conclusion regarding our own motives for quoting or living by a Bible text… or not.
Satan quotes scripture to Jesus Who responds to him with scripture. Ponder that for a bit and you realize two very different beings, attitudes, motives and outcomes are at work in the process of both the key fallen angel of note and God the Son referencing scripture.
Many and most likely most followers of Christ refer to this collection of books and letters as The Word of God. I think it is, though I won’t bother to argue infallibility as I think the argument is moot. In my view, studies and experience there is simply no other book that tells truth with as much authority or purpose, all pointing to the God you and I, dear reader, are not.
Because we ourselves are -not- God… and therefore are not infallible -our individual and even corporate, shared interpretations of the very Book are likewise not infallible. We are, even as Christ-followers, flawed, imperfect, prone to mistakes. He is not.
As I often ask, what does HE think, feel, care about, want, desire for and in us, in His creation, in our relationship to Him and one another? How can we be fairly sure?
Many will argue God speaks outside the Bible and I fully agree. I also believe one must begin with Jesus’ Own words about scripture, including His often quoting it. This one can easily study via the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), next the many quotes cited by the rest of the writers of the New Testament.
I fully admit (and why not, truth is truth!) -humans- wrote these texts.
Scripture itself tells us “holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit” as they wrote. Hmmm. Now we are being called to believe, in faith, that such was the case.
Certainly the matter eventually comes to faith. Yet I argue the most disturbing thing about it is the fact we cannot believe this Book and apply it with perfection as Father, Son and Spirit do.
The Word Who “became flesh and dwelt among us” is Jesus Christ, the Person Himself according to the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Written characters (language on a page) do not equal a person and certainly not God.
Further, anyone who follows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in genuine relationship has learned perhaps 90 percent or more of what they believe about Him based on the Bible. Personal experiences are amazing, not uncommon and they are truly important, even essential to experience life with the risen Christ.
But if there were no Bible, what would anyone know or believe about Him? How would one have any clue if what they believed was true, accurate, solid WITHOUT the Bible?
There are plenty of “God/god/spiritual-whatever experiences” had by all sorts of people who believe all sorts of things about Him/Her/It through the ages of the human race. So… what?
One cannot give solid argument disconnected from the Book as to Who Jesus was and is… and not eventually suffer at least elements of disconnect. There are only a couple reputable ancient documents outside of the Bible that speak of Him and they do not even come close to clarity such as the Bible gives in the four Gospels alone.
The “no” comes now:
You and I may BELIEVE truth or untruth, that the sky is falling when it is not, that we are experiencing an earthquake when those standing right next to us feel nothing at all… and we would be flat wrong to say X is happening when it simply isn’t.
EXPERIENCING God based on His Word is indeed a matter of faith, but it is also a matter of humility. We may well make mistakes with His written Word and all of us do at times… but it speaks not only of God, it brings strong, thorough and direct as well as parabolic judgment on humans in terms of their relationships and treatment of both God and one another.
The Bible reads us… and there are plenty of sections that call us out in quite negative terms. Oh, The Gospel is Good News… but it’s also bad news to those disinterested in brutal honesty and it’s insistence that only Jesus Christ is sufficient for life, now and in eternity, commanding repentance and a life of loving obedience to Him. Commands, not mere options. Yep, lotsa peeps recoil at all this.
I find nearly zero issue with what it says though I do not always like it, sometimes do not understand why God did this or said that in the sense of my own ability to “enjoy” it. On occasion I literally pray “Lord, I trust You are kind and good, that You are love itself… but as you know, I would not have done that the way You obviously did!”
In other words, I may dislike what I read but I find it nearly impossible to judge either God or the Old or New Testament writers with regard to what it’s words say about myself and the rest of humanity. I find myself asking forgiveness, cringing and coming to Him like a pup with tail between legs plenty often.
Jesus’ apparent attitude and dealings with people versus many of my own and plenty of others -are quite different!
The Bible brings us to a view that is often difficult to either counter or frankly, argue against re. scripture speaking about the human condition without surrender to God versus what an authentic follower of Jesus thinks, says and lives out. I mean, the contrast is pretty obvious and not always a pleasure to notice as we study the Bible!
So there is in this sense a matter of truth and reality, not mere perspective that sorts us out and at times “puts us up against the wall” in a rather uncomfortable way.
“The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” is one phrase that comes to mind in such a moment of careful consideration.
In this sense, what I or you or any human thinks about the Bible, how we judge it is far less important that how God judges us as we read, respect and apply or ignore, disrespect and/or do not apply its teachings to our relationships.
If it -is- the Word of God and not merely the words of humans on some sort of “spiritual philosophy kick”- and indeed I believe it is the Word of the One True God, what we think about it is far less important than what He thinks about our response to its words.
What we think about Him and whether we truly know and walk with Him is the deal.
The Bible clearly defines both believers and unbelievers in rather stark terms.
Sheep/goats, followers/non-followers, obedient/disobedient, those who love with His love and those who do not.
Something to consider as you consider the Bible’s place- or lack of it… in your own life.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn