From the Mystic Mailbag: “The Word”

 I received a question from a friend in the Philippines. I’ve paraphrased his question below.
thegospelofmark.jpg

Alex,

Last week, I had a conversation with someone. While we were talking, he asked me if my insight was biblical.

I asked him, why does my insight have to be biblical? Isn’t that being fundamentalist?
He said that if it’s not based in the Bible he won’t do it.

I told him that we’re not required to do everything in the Bible. Now, if you tell me that loving God and loving others as myself is biblical, then I want to be biblical.

My question is, why do Christians regard the Bible as “The Word?” Why do Christians act as if nothing bad happened in the Bible and that the only way to live is according to the Bible? Why do Christians pretend that the Bible is so holy that there is nothing wrong with it? Why do some say, that when John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word…” that he was writing about the Bible itself? Can that be right?

I don’t get it. There are so many things in the Bible that I won’t do. But Christians act as if anyone who says anything bad about the Bible is in danger of going to hell. Thanks for any insight you may be able to give me.

Jaime

Jaime,

Thanks for your email.

I read your email to my wife, Niza. Her first impression was that you are entering the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, she told me, that unless we become childlike, we would not enter the Kingdom.

I also thought your email demonstrated a humility before God and man.
I think a lot of Christians out there may actually be “bibliolaters,” that is, that they worship the Bible instead of God.

The idea that John was referring to the Bible when he wrote, “In beginning was the word…” is ridiculous and probably indicates that some have become bible idolaters. Humans seem to want to be able to hold God in their hands like an idol. It may bring them good luck in the hunt or on the job interview.

Of course, the Bible is a central conversation partner to the Christ following faith and cannot be put aside or disregarded. The Bible documents the ongoing conversation between man and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is man’s witness to this conversation, not God’s.

I have come to believe in this God that the Bible points towards. That’s different than believing IN the Bible.

Our trust must be placed in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ — The One who called Abram, led Israel out of Egypt, and raised Jesus from the dead.

The Bible is adequate for the task of pointing women and men to this God, but it is not to be mistaken for God.

I hope that helps.

Alex

I’ve just returned from Nashville where I spent a day with leaders whom I would gladly trust as spiritual guides for my family. Christ following lives even in the heart of the Bible Belt. At the same time, some of my conversations there, reminded me that bibiliotary lives. Becasue of that, I thought this exchange timely.

What do you think?

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23 thoughts on “From the Mystic Mailbag: “The Word”

  1. Alex

    I have to ask more questions. Is the Bible inspired? If so what does that mean? Is the Bible a yard stick that we can use to evaluate our lies? If not is it relative, it means something different to each person? Are the people listed in the Bible historical, or are they fictional characters whose stories teach us some spiritual truth?

  2. Alex

    Let me think about what my answer would be over night. Knowing this person’s sensitivities would have a lot to do with how I would answer. I would need to be faithful to what I believe, but at the same time not scare him off. I will respond tomorrow.
    I would still like to see how you answer my questions because I am really curious about what your thought process’ are.

  3. Steve,

    -> What do you mean by “inspired”? If by “inspired” you mean dictated or initiated by God, then no. If by inspired you mean that they are a human response to the initiatives and activities of God in History and in their personal lives, then yes.

    -> Isn’t the Bible also a weapon that we use to justify our lies?

    -> The Bible may mean something different to each reader, but it also had a meaning for the writers. That’s the meaning I’m after.

    -> Yes, the characters in the Bible are historical (vs. fictional but intended to convey some spiritual truth) except, of course, where they are a part of a literary device (ex: characters in a parable).

    I hope that helps.

  4. Alex

    If I had received and email like this, here is what I would reply:

    Dear Jamie

    I understand what you are saying about the Bible. It is a book that is often misunderstood.
    The Bible was never intended to be just a book of dos and don’ts. I can see why just blindly following what it says doesn’t make sense to you. So if the Bible is not just a book of rights and wrongs then what is it?
    The Bible first of all is a history of God’s dealing with those who have chosen to serve Him. It shows these people as they really were. It shows their successes and failures. Some of the failures are pretty horrible. The Bible shows the history of some people who chose not to serve God also. This contrast demonstrates that following God leads to a happier and more fulfilled life.
    The second thing that the Bible does is give us a clear understanding of what is right and wrong in God’s eyes. Reading and studying the Bible shows us what pleases God, and what displeases Him. It gives us a basis to make morel decisions.
    The third thing the Bible does is show us how to get to know God personally. It shows us how to come into a personal intimate relationship with Him. The result of this relationship is that we fall in love with God. We begin developing a desire to please Him. The Bible explains that mankind currently has a nature that is contrary to God’s. It explains how God’s Son Jesus Christ came to earth and made a way for us to have our nature changed to be more like God’s. The Word mentioned in the first chapter of John is not the Bible, but Jesus.
    The forth thing is that the people who wrote the Bible wrote it because God instructed them to. It isn’t so much that he dictated a letter to them, it is more like he communicated a truth to them and had them write it down in their own words. One of the mysterious things about the Bible is that we cannot understand it with out God’s help. Once we develop that relationship with Him, He begins to reveal things in the text that we could never see on our own. I have many times read a familiar passage and had God give me a completely new understanding of that text. The word we use to describe this phenomenon is revelation. God revealed the truth to the writer and later re-reveals that truth and others to us as we read and study.
    I hope this brief summary helps. If you are interested I would love to discuss this in more detail.

    Sincerely

    Steve

  5. Through faith, I have come to accept the Bible as the inspired, written logos of God. Just like the gospel, he entrusted it to his human agents to write it down, preserve it and pass it along. It is not beyond God’s ability to do this.

  6. Steve, Thanks for offering a reply to Jaime. After your answer, I’m still left wondering why, though, some Christians have the attitude they do about the Bible. My thought is that some improperly elevate (to a divine status) the Bible somewhat like Catholics elevate the Virgin.

    Also, how do we know that all of the people who wrote the Bible wrote it because God instructed them to? Just for one example, Did Mark write his gospel because God told him to? Or…Since Mark is thought to be the teachings of Peter, did Mark write it because Peter (not God) told him to? Or…did he write it because Peter was old (or had died) and he (or his community of faith) thought it would be necessary to document Peter’s teachings? Or…some combination of other factors?

    Again, can we really say that “God had them write it down in their own words”? How would we know that?

    Steve, in my experience people who are not dependent on God can understand the Bible. And, people who profess dependence on God can misunderstand the Bible. I learned the heart and essence of the New Testament from a prof who did not profess faith in the God of Israel or trust in Christ. He understood the message of Jesus and of the Kingdom of God better than the pastors I had heard.

    Of course, intellectual comprehension is not salvation, but I would say that the Bible can be understood by most readers whether they are in the faith or not.

    The Bible is the creation of two communities: Israel and the Church. It is our explanation of how we came to be who and what we are. It is the particular witness of these communities about their God whom they proclaim is the God of all creation, of every human creature, of the future and the past.

    Steve, as I read your answer I find myself resonating with most of it while not agreeing with some of it. I picked on one little thing –namely, did God tell them to write it — as an example of one of the little quibbles I have with your reply. I think we can (and must) maintain the central place of scripture — as a historical and technological development — in the Christ following faith without ignoring the difficulties and humanity of the text.

    I also think we need to own that our faith is based on our thinking, experience, and context and not just on our scripture.

    Well done. Thanks for really contributing to this conversation.

  7. Mark, I agree. It is not beyond God’s ability to do this. But did He? It is also within human ability (flaws and all) to give a faithful and truthful witness to what is experienced.

    For example, I believe Jesus is raised from the dead and that this changes everything. I am not inerrant nor do I claim to be. I am flawed, compromised, biased, and bring my personal slant to everything. Still, my proclamation of the good news about Jesus may be right.

    The scripture follows this pattern, in my mind: human but truthful.

    I don’t think, though, that the proclamation of the gospel requires that we deposit our faith in the Bible. In my experience, the telling of the gospel brings faith in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    God in Christ is the ground our our faith, not the Bible nor the church nor the traditions. The scripture, the church, and the traditions are human responses to the activity of God as He (in Christ) makes the world right. As such all three are indispensable clues to what is going on around here, but not the things in which to have faith.

    Thanks for adding your voice to this conversation.

  8. Alex, I have to say I am very taken back by what I am reading. Maybe I haven’t been on the site as much lately as I should have, but your viewpoint seems to be opposite of the sense I got from your talks at Origins in 2K4. How do you reconcile your questions about the origin of scripture with 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”…. and 2 Peter 1:20 “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

    Not wanting to jump ship here, just trying to understand where you’re coming from.

  9. Bryan, you got me. I don’t remember what I said at Origins 04. I assume from your comment that it was the opposite of what I’m saying here.

    Oops. [Read my disclaimer]. 🙂

    Ok, “Where am I coming from?”

    This is going to be a long comment, so let me say at the outset that I have immense love for and confidence in the scriptures, and think that they must be a –or maybe “the” would be better — central conversation partner for the Christ following faith. Having said that…

    Here’s what I’m getting at. Two decades ago, a non believer asked a believer why he believed in the Bible. The believer answered, because the Bible says it is the word of God.
    The non believer responded, it’s a good thing the Hobbit didn’t begin with the words “everything you read here is true.”

    Exactly, I thought then and I think now. Circular reasoning works for us, but it doesn’t work anywhere else on the planet, nor should it.

    I think this is in part why Christians think and talk about the Bible as if it were God. And this is in part what Jaime was asking about in his email to me.

    Well, you asked about Timothy and Peter. I think we can say that Paul held what we know as the OT to be “God breathed” and “useful” for “teaching,” etc (2 Tim). The way Paul wrote about his own letters indicates that he understood himself to be writing scripture. Talk about a robust ego.

    There are differing ways of understanding what Paul meant by “God breathed,” of course. Some hold it to mean a word for word transcription of God’s words into textual form. Others hold it to mean that God revealed truth and prophets spoke those truths in their own words but faithfully reflecting God’s revelation, and later others wrote it down faithfully reflecting the spoken prophetic words, and later these particular words were selected by the community of faith to be authentically from God.

    I suspect that Paul meant something like the first. If he did, I would disagree with him on this.

    [I know, I know.]

    I DO think that the scripture IS God breathed in the sense that it DOES NOT originate in man –I’m agreeing with Peter (2 Pet) here — but in the action of God in history among people. Without God’s actual prior activity, without his calling prophets and giving them messages or promises, there is no scripture. The authority of the scripture does not lie in itself, but in the active God behind it and towards whom it points. The scripture has a delegated authority not an inherent one.

    I’m fairly certain Paul would disagree with me here and I think he would be wrong. We would both agree, however, that Jesus is raised from the dead. And, that is something that not only forces us to re-organize EVERYTHING through it, it is also something to write about!

    The scripture is a residue of the activity of God, a clue. This clue resonates with those of us who hear God speak in Christ.

    Bryan, it may also help you to know that the theme for 2010 for the IMN 7-Day immersion MAY be the scriptures, and I’m working things out here as well as in conversation with others. But I am definitely in the “push the envelope” phase.

    Not that I think that what I’ve said here pushed the envelope at all.

    Jesus is risen.

  10. Alex

    I am just back from a mini vacation. I thought that there might be more discussion on this thread. I thought I would answer some of your questions.

    You said “Steve, in my experience people who are not dependent on God can understand the Bible. And, people who profess dependence on God can misunderstand the Bible. I learned the heart and essence of the New Testament from a prof who did not profess faith in the God of Israel or trust in Christ. He understood the message of Jesus and of the Kingdom of God better than the pastors I had heard.”

    It might be interesting one day to discuss the kingdom of God. I have a feeling that your perspective on what the kingdom is, is much different than what I believe.

    You said “I think we can (and must) maintain the central place of scripture — as a historical and technological development — in the Christ following faith without ignoring the difficulties and humanity of the text.”

    I think that The Holy Spirit should take the lead in our understanding. If we do not receive meaning of the scripture as revelation first then we are left to our own intellect to figure things out. In my experience that is seldom reliable or accurate.

    You Said “I also think we need to own that our faith is based on our thinking, experience, and context and not just on our scripture.”

    I will not argue that point with you, but again you never mention The Holy Spirit. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit as well as the fruits of the spirit are essential in answering and of the questions being asked here. The Bible says that the purpose of the gifts is to equip the saints. How can you accomplish the task of understanding with the proper tools?
    In many ways your answers here sound to me like Christian humanism. What I mean by that is that you are relying on your intellect more than anything else to bring understanding. I don’t see this model employed in scripture. In my experience it leads to many false conclusions.

  11. Hey Steve,

    Hope you had a good mini-vacation. I need one of those.

    “It might be interesting one day to discuss the kingdom of God. I have a feeling that your perspective on what the kingdom is, is much different than what I believe.”

    I think you’ll agree with me that my “perspective” and your “belief” wouldn’t be the real issue. The more basic item would be, how do the scriptures describe the K of G?

    For me, in a broad stroke, the K is the way Jesus describes the relationship between God and everything else. God is king.

    “I think that The Holy Spirit should take the lead in our understanding.”

    With all due respect to the spirit of God, isn’t saying, “the Spirit” often a way most Christians justify the opinions they reached through reason and experience. I would rather point to the text and either agree or disagree, rather than say, well, “I feel the spirit…” I think expressions like, “I felt the Spirit…” is a way most of us seek to escape responsibility for our own thinking and our own actions.

    “…then we are left to our own intellect to figure things out. In my experience that is seldom reliable or accurate.”

    Steve, I think it is a fiction to believe that you are not responsible (“let to our own intellect”) to figure things out. The way you respond to the activity of God is exactly that…your “response.” You are left to your own faculties to make a response. That response includes your intellect but also more than that.

    “If we do not receive meaning of the scripture as revelation first …”

    I’m not sure what you mean by this.

    “In many ways your answers here sound to me like Christian humanism.”

    Yes, I could go with that in a qualified way. I often say that I am an atheist who is still surprised by his own conversion. Sometimes I say that I am a Christ following Secular Humanist. These aren’t supposed to be technical designations, just an indication of the fact that (1) I don’t ascribe to any particular party of Christian philosophy and that (2) I recognize that my pov has eclectic influences.

    “What I mean by that is that you are relying on your intellect more than anything else to bring understanding.”

    Guilty. (Actually, I tend towards the intuitive more than the thinking).

    “I don’t see this model employed in scripture.”

    What faculty did you use to reach this conclusion?

    “In my experience it leads to many false conclusions.”

    If I had a penny for every spirit led person that had reached false conclusions about something in the scripture.

    Ok, Steve. I think, and I know you will agree, It is God in Christ who reveals himself to us.

    That’s my experience. That is my reason. That is my intellect. That is my emotion.

    Thanks for the input.

  12. Alex

    I have been thinking about how to respond to you.

    “What I mean by that is that you are relying on your intellect more than anything else to bring understanding.”

    Guilty. (Actually, I tend towards the intuitive more than the thinking).

    “I don’t see this model employed in scripture.”

    What faculty did you use to reach this conclusion?

    Well let’s see what Jesus has to say about this.

    John 16:5″But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, “Where are You going?’” 6″But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
    7″But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8″And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12″I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13″But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14″He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15″All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

    I think that this passage clears up any doubt about how we are to know the truth including the truth in God’s word. It seems as though you have more faith in you intuition than you have in the Holy Spirit and His ability to guide you. This is contrary to Jesus’ words. Jesus also said that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us Acts 1:8.Paul commanded us to be filled with the Holy Spirit Eph. 5:18. In Acts 2 it says that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit before he delivered his sermon that “cut to the heart”. When Peter spoke to the house of Cornelius the Holy Spirit fell on all who were listening and caused them to believe Acts 10.
    This is the scriptural model. The Holy Spirit is to be our guide and power source in everything. There are many more passages that I could quote. If we open ourselves up to be filled with the Holy Spirit, all sorts of amazing things can happen including signs and wonders. I wonder Alex, have you ever been filled with the Holy Spirit?
    One more thing just because some people who claim to be led by the Spirit get it wrong, doesn’t mean that no one get’s it right.

  13. Steve,

    What faculty did you use to create this argument? What faculty did you use to ask yourself, Hmm, what did Jesus say?
    The answer to these questions is not about being filled by the spirit or not. It’s about being honest with yourself.

    Also,

    “One more thing just because some people who claim to be led by the Spirit get it wrong, doesn’t mean that no one get’s it right.”

    My point exactly. People get things right whether they say they are led by the spirit or not. Saying one is led by the spirit does NOT mean the person is right (or is even in fact keeping in step with the spirit). Of course, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
    However, you used it to mean that one’s judgment is more reliable and accurate if they say they are led by the spirit. This is false.

    Last,
    “I wonder Alex, have you ever been filled with the Holy Spirit?”

    Jesus is risen.

    Thanks for the input. Truly welcomed.

  14. Alex

    It appears that we might be trying to say some of the same things, but we are saying them in really different ways.
    It appears that you view me as saying that you can discover the truth only by a “thus sayeth the Lord” kind of revelation. I am not saying that at all. Of course you have to think and reason with your mind. My point is that the process has to start with asking God for guidance through the Holy Spirit and then listen for His heart, study the Bible, and finally reason using what information God has given you in the process to come to a conclusion. Will that sometimes lead to mistakes? You bet! Each mistake is a learning experience. With practice the mistakes will become less and less frequent as we learn the difference between what God’s voice sounds like and our own thinking.
    On the other hand I was thinking that you are trying hard to not sound like an evangelical, or even worse a charismatic. Your language to me sounded like you were trying to say that the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with the process for you. I am kind of stepping back here and trying to see if I am missing something. When you mention intuitively understanding, I suspect that you let the Holy Spirit get involved in that process. Alex am I getting warm?

    One last thing you said

    “However, you used it to mean that one’s judgment is more reliable and accurate if they say they are led by the spirit. This is false.”

    It is not what people say that matters, but what they do. I don’t just believe, but I know that when God is truly leading a person, his judgment is more sound. I think that is part of what Jesus was talking about when He discussed the wise and foolish builders. I have known many people over the years who speak christianese really well, however there was no evidence of Christ in their lives what so ever. That is not the kind of Christianity that I practice or advocate.

  15. Alex I appreciate your movement with origins and bringing “church” back to a relational daily walk with others rather than a building for Sunday morning. However, I do not agree with the way many churches are letting secular culture change the church body rather than the church body change the secular culture. About this blog. The bible should not be idolized but I do believe that the bible is God’s word to us. You wrote, ” The Bible is adequate for the task of pointing women and men to this God, but it is not to be mistaken for God.” Do you not believe that it is God’s word spoken through the writers’ of scripture? The word adequate means, “barely sufficiant”. I believe the bible is more than just adequate for our daily walk. God is not a God of confusion. He provided us his word and Holy spirit to guide us to be more like him in this crazy journey called life. We confuse ourselves when we stray away from the teachings of the bible and his holy spirit, and focus on ideals that are more appealing to our secular views. At what point do we stop accepting every idea thrown to us and take a stand for what is Gods viewpoint on issues? Are we afraid that it may cause others to change their ways? My fear is that we are letting secular culture influence the way we view God.

  16. Steve, Thanks so much for your generosity towards me. I love it when I am given the benefit of the doubt. I think you’re right. Some of it is just a matter of emphasis. A little of it is a difference of substance. Wow. you touch on a lot of stuff. Ok, let’s see…

    —– I agree about the wise and foolish builders en toto. My point, as you noted, is that “saying” or even “believing” that one is led by the spirit does not mean that one is more likely to be in touch with God and God’s ways.

    —– My understanding is that God is always involved in the process. You’re right, I tend to use God rather than spirit. I must be quick to say, however, that this isn’t because I’m trying to avoid sounding like a charismatic. I love my pentecostal tending brothers, and, even though I am not a charismatic, my mission and ministry experience are sprinkled with the miraculous activities of God. Nor am I trying hard not to sound like an evangelical. I don’t aspire to be an evangelical. Neither am I an undercover evangelical. I am an atheist surprised by his own conversion to God through Christ. I am a secularist who aspires to cling to Christ because Christ rescued me. I am a humanist who thinks the Bible is the most important literature on earth.

    Steve, It’s no wonder you find yourself disagreeing with me. With the self-identity I have, I find myself disagreeing with myself plenty.

    Finally, I totally agree with what you’ve said about reason. Often, we can seek to avoid responsibility for our part in the human divine relationship by not acknowledging that we engage God and the scripture with all our heart, soul, strength and mind.

  17. Shawn, Thanks for your comment. I’m grateful when secular culture changes a church if those changes reflect the heart and mind of God. To me the tug of war is not church against the secular culture. The war is God calling both God and secular culture to Himself. Sometimes culture responds more quickly than the church.

    I tend to view the scriptures as the human part of the God – human interaction. About the word “adequate”…this word means “to make equal” or “equal to the task”. “Sufficient” is a synonym.

    I think the Bible is equal to the task the church has for it…i.e. to tell the story of how we became the community we are, and point the world to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Since I came to know about Jesus Christ through the telling (verbally and via reading the Bible) of that same story, followed by an experience of encountering Christ in the context of that story, I believe that this story has a way of opening people’s eyes so that they can see God at work rescuing the universe through Jesus.

    Shawn, my experience seems a bit different than yours. Life made sense to me. The Bible and the spirit are what made my life crazy. I was fine until Jesus messed everything up.

    You ask, “At what point do we stop accepting every idea thrown to us and take a stand for what is Gods viewpoint on issues?”

    I will never stop accepting any idea thrown at me that helps me lead the world to Christ. Never. I will Always stand on what I believe God is doing in the world.

    You say, My fear is that we are letting secular culture influence the way we view God.

    Ok, I hear you. I say let the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our conversions to God through Christ influence our view of God. Never fear again.

    Thanks. I hope that helps clear some things up, even if we don’t agree.

  18. Alex,

    I appreciate your response. I know that it is sometimes difficult to express our feelings or point of views in writing instead of face to face. I hope that I did not sound like I am not open to change in church culture. Church culture is many times the problem and needs changing! That is why I enjoy the church I attend. We focus on being the church 24/7. We focus on building relationships in the marketplace and community. I just feel that many times we avoid issues that the bible clearly identifies as right or wrong, in fear that it will not be accepted by all. The problem with much of church culture is they feel that protesting and isolating themselves is the answer to these issues against the “secular” world. My pastor made a good point that we must not focus more on legislating morality than encouraging it through living sent in our daily lives by loving others and loving God. Thank you for your response!

  19. Hey Shawn. No worries. Good interaction. Here’s the one thing I would say, my argument deals more with the responsibility (i.e. response – ability) of Christ following people. Believing something is right or wrong because the Bible says so is like believing something because a parent says “because”. We need to move beyond this by taking responsibility: believing something is right or wrong because I believe it is right or wrong.

    Sometimes, the way most Christians relate to the Bible one of two negative things happen. First, we disengage our thinking and accept “because” as an answer. Or, second, we do what we believe whether it is healthy or not and put the responsibility on God. I think following Christ requires that we engage Him and the scriptures with our thinking and accept our responsibility for the meanings we extract.

    You’re comments are always welcomed.

  20. Alex,
    I tried to track this topic, I really did. but I’ve come away confused. Why is the Bible being minimized and why sre man’s reasonings being emphasized all in order to understand God? Wasn’t faith supposed to be by hearing (the gospel), and hearing (the gospel) by the Word of God. How then shall we hear if no one is to share the Word of God, found in the Bible? Dare I quote the Bible? (Romans 10:8-18) …maybe not here. But then, we do have the witness of creation whereas all men are without excuse. (Romans 1:16-32) …oh, there’s that pesky Bible again. Forgive me of my own foolishness. I’ll leave you to your thoughts, Alex.

  21. Hey Tim,

    Yes, you can quote scripture here.
    We like it.

    Ok, you asked, “why am I minimizing the Bible?”
    I want to (1) emphasize my thinking about the Bible and also to (2) point out when people confuse their own thinking with the Bible.
    I do this because trying to understand God is something I consider very important.

    If I might make my point with the scripture you used. When you quote Romans 10, you seem to think that this says, that we hear the gospel via the Bible. Is that your thinking about this verse or is it what the verse is saying? I think Paul’s saying that people hear the gospel through the ones who tell it. (versus through the Bible as you suggest). I don’t think Paul proclaimed the gospel as he traveled from town to town by turning to scripture passages. He proclaimed it by telling about the resurrection of Jesus. Of course, this doesn’t exclude the use of scripture or any other form of supporting evidence.

    You also quote Romans 1.16-32. It makes my point exactly. According to the Bible, the creation gives us a witness that leaves us without excuse and that quite APART from the Bible itself.

    I may be wrong, but it seems that you seem to think that the creation gives this witness because the Bible says so. The creation doesn’t give a witness because the Bible says so. The Bible says so because quite apart from it, the creation gives a witness that leaves us without excuse. Now I depart from the Bible to my thinking– I think this means that we have sufficient intuitive, psychic, genetic, or rational powers to be made responsible for what creation tells us.

    You’re right. The Bible is pesky. That’s why I tend to like it.
    No need for forgiveness. This is a touchy one and I get that. Thanks for your thoughts.

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