Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is the Bible the Word of God? (Spoiler: No)

I wonder if that title is provocative enough.

I think it is.

I know this is controversial, and quite possibly angering to some, bear with me through the post if you would, and I really would like to talk about it more on what you disagree with, agree with, question, etc etc. This is not meant to be a "I'm right, so and so is wrong" kind of post. I'd love to spark dialogue and further understanding on this issue.



Why would I say that the Bible is not the word of God? Don't you have to believe that the Bible is the word of God to be a Christian? You're a heretic!

Let's calm down here.

The Bible isn't the word of God. Jesus is.

Jesus is the living, holy, inerrant word of God, and you can argue for little 'w' vs big 'w' all day long if you'd like, it's a waste of time. Jesus is the word of God referred to in the Bible itself. The Bible does not refer to itself as the word of God. That is an understanding based upon inference and 'reading into' the text what we would want.

The word of God is a living being: Jesus. It is not ink on a printed page.

Yes, the Bible claims that scripture is inspired by God, that scripture is useful, that it contains prophecy, that it contains truth, etc.

I don't argue any of those.

But what I do argue is putting the Bible--or especially our understanding of the Bible--on the same level as Jesus.

And we do. Constantly.

Some of us get a level where we practically worship the Bible. We defend it at all costs, we treat it as a holy object, where even constantly throughout scriptures we're warned against doing this very thing!

The Bible is not infallible, it is not inerrant, it is not written from the very hand of God himself.

It is written through fallible, fallen humanity. It is written by people of every social class from kings to the scum of the earth. It didn't fall from the sky in English for us in the 21st century in Courier New font.

This type of veneration of a holy text is a must in other religious systems. It is an important part of Islam, Mormonism, and others. This type of worship of an object is incompatible with Christianity.

However, the Bible contains quoted "words of God" as they were given to his prophets.

It contains the "expressed will" of God as we look through the Bible thematically. But it contains the actual words of humans. Of authors, scribes and dictators. People who claimed to speak for God at some specific points and at others made great point to let us know that what they were writing was NOT from God.

I certainly believe that the Bible is true.

That it is helpful.

That it will give us a better understanding of God, that it will help us in our relationship with Jesus.

That the Spirit of God uses the Bible to reveal God to us.

That all we need to know of how to begin a relationship with Jesus is contained in it.

I believe that when properly interpreted, the Bible is not contrary to reality. That it does not stand in opposition to scientific criticism, literary criticism, historical discovery or anything else.

And when it appears that it is NOT compatible with reality, there is something wrong with either A) Our understanding of reality or B) Our understanding of the Bible (it's usually B...btw).

I know this is a controversial stance...and generally unpopular. It's easier to say "The Bible says it, I believe it" and go about our business convinced of our superior knowledge or privileged revelation.

But life isn't that easy.

So as I said before...I'd love to talk about this more, expand on it, etc. But what is going through your head about this?