I’m a Christian, a person of faith, and I have to say that my hope is not in the scriptures.
The story of Jesus that is told in the scriptures is the most intriguing story I’ve ever read. I believe that God has revealed something in the Christ that can’t be ignored for it’s importance and life-changing ability. I believe that, in the person of Jesus, God started something new in the world. So new, in fact, that people had to write about it in haste.
But you see, that’s just it. My hope is in God’s work through Jesus. The scriptures contain that story, but they aren’t the object of my hope itself. Somewhere along the line we’ve turned the scriptures into God…and then everyone who begins to question them, to delve into their historical context to weed out discrepancies and cultural trappings becomes “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”
This is excellent, and has been one of my main issues with evangelical readings of Scripture for a long time now. I had to sit through a sermon a few months ago where the pastor spent five or ten minutes making fun of people who major in religion (like me!) and choose to study the Bible through a historical lens. Ignoring the historical or cultural issues with the Bible because of some misguided sense of the inerrancy of the text is simply an intellectual cop out.
(I put the rest of my thoughts under the cut because of length)
In short, my question is: “If the Bible isn’t God, why are so many people worshiping it?”
As a Christian, a person of faith, a pastor, the Bible informs my faith. It is the feedbox of faith; not the fence nor the object of faith.
But we’ve turned it into the idol on a pedestal. We’ve claimed it as “infallible” and “inerrant.” My favorite variation of this claim is that it is “inerrant in it’s original languages.” Nice dodge, people. I hate to say it, but that’s not exactly how language works. It is not intellectually honest to claim that something is perfect in its original but long-lost form. It’s a quaint way of acknowledging that there are internal inconsistencies with the scriptures while escaping any need to take them seriously.
Infallibility and inerrancy are traits commonly ascribed to the Divine itself. But because we can’t see the Divine in the ways we want to, we’ve created this lovely Bible-calf out of the gold of our desire for concrete things, and think that full “authority” rests in it instead of the God it points to.
I was reminded of a post over on Rachel Held Evans’ blog a while back on the question of whether or not Christians are “People of the Book.” And in some sense Christians are focused on the Scriptures. They are the primary sources for not only the life of Jesus but also a number of the manuscripts of the early church, not to mention all of the books of the Hebrew Bible.
Biblicists are often so insistent that the Bible is God’s only complete, sufficient, and final word that they can easily forget in practice that before and above the Bible as God’s written word stands Jesus Christ, who is God’s living Word and ultimate and final self-revelation.
The Bible points to God. The Bible is made up of some of the texts written by people who fought with and followed God. It makes me sad that people make it into an idol.
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- undchris said: That was thoroughly wonderful. Thanks for the post!
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