“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1, ESV
The Bible is not the “Word of God.” It is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It contains words of God. It even talks about the Word of God… but it is still not THE Word of God. The Word of God is actually Jesus Christ. Not the words of Jesus, but Christ himself. This little misunderstanding has created a whole heap of confusion about the point Christianity and how we are to use Scripture in our lives.
While I would like to claim I am being brave with this topic, I was actually inspired by Zack Hunt’s recent article, The Bible Isn’t Perfect And It Says So Itself. As he has opened the Pandora’s box for discussion, I felt compelled to chime in. My contribution to is not to question the inerrancy of Scripture, which I believe, but define differently from most, but rather it’s place in the mental, spiritual, and religious life of Christians.
The limitations of Bible worship
The perception of Scripture as an exhaustive divine legal tome from God has led to all kinds of insanity. Some people think anything is “OK” if they find a verse to defend it. Other people think they can’t do anything until they find a verse giving them permission. Throughout our history, people have used Bible verses and twisted logic to defend slavery, segregation, witch burnings, and all sorts of discrimination and persecution.
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On the flip side, I have known many sad souls who can’t buy a car or take a job without finding a Bible verse to tell them they are “OK.” As if thinking for themselves will immediately lead them to the gates of Hell. They are nearly paralyzed, incapable of growing or developing and live in abject fear of the world around them.
Yes, these are both extreme examples, but they illustrate the limitations of thinking of the Bible as the end-all-be-all of Christian thinking. At some point, we all have to use our own judgment. So just what should the Bible be used for? Scripture is a tool for our development and our growth It is not a divine legal document for us to justify ourselves or condemn others.
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 complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV
Scripture doesn’t tell us everything we need, it tells us only what we need
Do you have a favorite quote? I have many quotes I love. I collect quotes! Many of us have favorite quotes and expressions we treasure. We treasure them because one ounce of wisdom can be used over and over in our lives in many applications. It is so easy to understand this concept until you attach the word “Bible” to it. For some reason, at that point we decide to be like annoying school children literally applying everything, “But teacher! You never said I COULDN’T eat my glue.”
Christ spoke in parables which are infinite in application and deep in meaning. His life was an example of ultimate selfless love which this world still needs so desperately. I think our misuse of Scripture represents our discontentment with what Christ really gave us. Just as the disciples thought Christ would be a national military leader who would free Israel from Rome, so do we still wish Christ told us everything about everything. Instead, he said “love one another as I have loved you, ” (John 13:34) and we have been confused and frustrated ever since.
I believe there is divine wisdom in how little Christ actually said. This is because all the secrets of the Universe are useless without love, yet love reveals all the secrets of Universe. Christ didn’t tell us everything we needed, he told us only what we needed. Because if we obey the short obvious commands of loving each other and loving our neighbor, then everything else begins to become clear.
When the Word of God became flesh
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” – John 14:6a, ESV
In the time Jesus Christ became flesh, the Greek philosophers had a concept of “Logos.” This concept represented the “ultimate truth” of the world. When John says “in the beginning was the Word, ” which is translated from the Greek word “Logos, ” he is identifying Christ as that “ultimate truth” or meaning which underlies all Creation. Our faith isn’t built around the words of Scripture, or even the words of Christ, but rather the entire existence and being of Christ.
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The idea of the “Word” or “Logos” is that all of creation breathes a message. All the Universe is a testament to a truth. Everything has a point, a purpose, and a function. This concept, referred to by the Greeks as “Logos, ” was the term Christ himself choose as the best representation of how to explain his being to us.
Scripture points us to God, but God is not confined to Scripture
All of Scriptures help give us an anchor, a strong footing to begin our journey with God. However, God is too big to be contained in the Bible. Christ is too vast to be exhausted in text. Scriptures points us in the right direction, but the best of faith is what we discover as we live what little we already know.
Christ is not just a historical figure we read about. He is a living Word that we meet in the faces of one another. He is the truth, the way, the life that we discover as we take our small steps of faith. He is the new humanity waiting for us when we cast aside our hate, our fear, and our hostility to our fellow man. The Word of God is discovered through obedience, not meer study. That is why it is so important for Christ to be known as the Word of God, not Scripture.
Yaholo Hoyt is a practical mystic, a passionate writer, a paltry poet, and an old-school Jesus freak. You can find him at http://yaholo.net or read his blog at http://practicalchristianmysticism.blogspot.com
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