This is Biblical, and I guess this is a 6th thing to reframe Christianity for me. (Click here for the first 5.)
How I got here
This thought (the Bible’s not the Word of God) came out of an irritation I experienced in my intro to Bible class at Bethel University. #goblueandgold
In the class we were reading How To Read the Bible for All its Worth. This is likely a great book in many ways. Unfortunately, only one thing stuck out to me. Between the book and class we were being taught that the only legitimate way to read the Bible was with proper exegesis and hermeneutics. (These are the studies of what the text said to people at the time it was written #exegesis and what it says to us now #hermeneutics.)
Don’t get me wrong. I think good exegesis and hermeneutics are of even greater importance now than I did then. The trouble I found was: If this is the Word of God, then it’s strictly for the educated.
That didn’t seem like the God I knew. The God I knew showed up to shepherds, crazies, lepers, and the poor. What about those who couldn’t go to college… or couldn’t read…
Somethings not right here.
When I started looking into it, the idea that the Bible is not the Word of God came rather quickly. John 1 helped. “In the beginning was the Word…” Everyone tends to agree that that’s talking about Jesus. Plus, It seems a little silly to think of an entirely empty universe save one KJV floating around.
Then I did a quick word study. If you have doubts, I suggest you do it too. Try going through every part of the Bible where it says or implies a “Word” is God’s. Then replace the word “word” with the word “Bible.” Some places it makes sense. (These are the places that are often quoted.) But many places it makes no sense at all. Do you really think the prophets received Bibles from heaven that they read to the people?
My favorite is John 5:37-40. Jesus tells the the religious leaders “…you do not have his [God’s] word…” Then in the next verse he says, “You search the scriptures…” They have the scriptures but not God’s word.
I’d suggest perhaps a better understanding would be: The Word of God is the revelation of God.
So, if it’s so obvious that the Bible is not the Word of God, why do so many Evangelical churches make that the first thing on their statements of faith?.. Are they all Pharisees? (That’s a joke… maybe…)
Really, I think it has more to do with the old split from the Catholic church and perhaps trying to distinguish between “Evangelical” churches from more “main stream” or “Liberal” ones.
The few times I’ve brought this up, I’ve run into people thinking I’m stripping the Bible of power. I’d say the opposite is true.
One big reason the Protestants broke from the Catholics was the church used the idea that God reveals himself through the church to abuse people and gain power. The protestants protested saying, No, God reveals himself to us here in the Bible. We can all read it.
Ironically, now protestants use the Bible as The Word of God to abuse and gain power. They’re able to do this because the Bible is never read without interpretation. And since pastors are (assumed to be) more educated about interpreting scripture, they have the same kind of power the ol’ Catholic Church had that drove the Protestants away.
Saying something has more power than it does strips it of it’s real power. The Bible has as much power as it says it has:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
(Note how without God’s breath, there is no scripture. It’s only a book.)
I read this post, and it gave me pause. If the Bible was proved a fake in one way or another, would you still have a God? Would you still know Jesus? Or is the Bible all ya got?
And finally, I’ll leave you with a humorous and grotesquely beautiful note. Thanks to nakedpastor.