It was one of the toughest things to admit for me, going back an year from now when someone whom I deeply respect, said this to me in a forum, I was shocked and felt wronged. I felt it was necessary to object to this and I did. With fervor and passion I tried to argue that the Bible indeed is the word of God and to claim otherwise with however noble motivations one might have, would be a wrong presentation of what makes up the Christian faith.
But now when I look back, I see why I was wrong. With time and help from a couple of very good people I came to know and who helped me understand what real faith is, I slowly learned what seems now as clear as day but utterly felt wrong back then. The contents of this post are not original to me in the strictest sense, if it wasn’t for some people I could not understand this and write about it.
Sadly, most people and churches believe the Bible to be everything there is to know about God. And they validate everything they experience with what is written in the Bible. This however, in my humble opinion, is dangerous. Call it into practice and you get a proof-text approach to the Bible something close to ‘If its written, that’s how it is and that settles it for me’ kind of thinking.
But is the Bible the “Word of God”? No. There is only one “Word of God” and that is Jesus Christ. Even in the N.T, the Bible hardly calls itself the “Word of God”. Most of the time, terms like “scriptures” or “spoken by the prophet” or “it is written” are used. Much confusion comes out of the language and translation. The opening of the Gospel of John or 2 timothy are often quoted.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Important things to note is:
- Christ never equated himself with the scriptures or vice versa
- The original Greek words used for the English term “word of God” are “logos” or “Rehma”, and they do not mean the entire body of Scriptures as we know them form Genesis to Revelation. Instead what John wanted to emphasize on was that Christ was at the Beginning and he is the Word of God who came in flesh to us.
2 Tim 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
It is important to realize that when Paul wrote this, he was using the words “all Scripture” as in the old testament only. The new testament did not exist yet.
Consider Col 1:15:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
Notice, it doesn’t say scripture.
Paul clearly emphasized on the importance of following Christ. He writes in Romans 12:2
…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul does not say that the will of God is discerned by citing scriptures but by the renewal of mind in Christ and through that we must discern what is good and acceptable. It is an out-of-the-box approach, a radical approach which demands an active life in the spirit. Unfortunately in common christian practice, people have taken a wrong stance by thinking that the term “word of God” and “Christ” are synonymous. Usually what follows is that Christ is replaced with the Bible. And we start following a book rather than the authority about who the book speaks. There is no fourth position in the trinity for the scriptures and it saddens me when I see this happening. The bible is elevated at times to a position where the message given out clearly contradicts with the nature of God we experience with the Holy Spirit.
John Chapter 8 is a wonderful example of what I am saying. The Jews who brought that woman to be stoned to Jesus, were following a book – “The law and the prophets”, word to word, at least for the woman’s part they were. And even when they were following the scriptures, they were wrong and Christ showed them their error. They were dead wrong even when they were fulfilling what was written. Does this sound familiar? They had moved the words of a written document higher than God who had given those commandments.
Some people even go far as to think that the Bible is Christ in worded form, or the Bible is God or the Bible is an exact representation of God. A semantic circus is not helpful because it complicates the simple truth of the matter. And the truth is, the scriptures are not God, they are not Christ and certainly the Bible is not the complete representation of God.
Sadly, most people have made the Bible so central to Christianity that it has shifted our focus from Christ. The first century church did not have a Bible, their faith was centralized on Christ. For more than a Millennium, the Bible was only available to a selected society, the clergy and the royalty yet it was not where the reformations originated, instead they came through small and average men who were motivated by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus speaks in John 5: 36-40
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.39 You study[c] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Consider what Christ says, he says that the scriptures in themselves are pointers, they do not have eternal life, instead they point towards Christ who is the eternal life. It also means that the scriptures do not have the perfect revelation stored in them. That there is more to it than the book itself. The Bible is incomplete, yes you read me, it is incomplete without Christ. The Bible is not greater than Christ, not back then nor in the present age. Christ is the center of everything there is to our faith. Words separated from the truth of God’s nature means nothing. And it gives me the feeling that we have reduced God to ink and paper, a God who is not involved, who can not interfere with rationality, common sense and love above our intellectual commentary and understanding of the scriptures.
It is my contention that one can not truly understand scriptures unless he has experienced Christ. It is only when we read the Bible, having an understanding of God’s nature and Christ’s love, is when we begin to understand what do the scriptures mean and what motivates God to do what he does. Christ is the ultimate lens to read the Bible. We can be wrong following the Bible without having Christ at the center of it and that is because our subjective manner of interpretation and understanding of these texts can be problematic, not accurate and at times completely wrong. I do however believe that there are things which can be easily concluded compared to others. Christ’s authority above the Bible is clear.
The Bible itself is not a, pardon my use of the term, ” magical” entity that can work actively itself. And even when God uses scripture to help us in our lives, we must always remember that it is Christ at the back who is doing it and not the printed KJV Bible in your lap.
Anything that takes a level of precedence above Christ is missing the entire point of faith and scriptures themselves. And when this happens, men stand up and divide the Bible in whatever means and messages they like to and then justify their positions and acts accordingly to the isolated scriptures they were able to take out of the Bible. Why? because they do not understand God neither they know him and more often they do more damage than they do anyone any good. Stop reading and learning the Bible as such.
Always remember, the scriptures are there to show us Christ. They are never to replace an active spiritual relationship with God. They are not the word of God, Christ is the everlasting word of God, the word which became flesh who was also present in the beginning. And without the love of Christ and the Holy spirit’s guidance, any position we take on the Bible is wrong and missing the point of faith, entirely.
Only Christ is the true, complete, perfect, revelation and reflection of God, everything else just falls secondary.