Thursday, February 23, 2012
God and the Bible
Someone asked me once why I say: “Listen now for the Word of the Lord,” right before I read from the Bible in worship instead of saying: “Listen now to the Word of the Lord.” First of all, the Holy Scriptures, written by human beings, are inspired by God, preserved in the providence of God, and understood by those who are filled with the Holy Spirit of God. The Bible is holy ground, and when we walk on this ground we should do so with fear and trembling waiting for God to speak, praying for the Spirit to bless us. So, I believe that whenever the Bible is read and interpreted, then God’s Word may be spoken and heard. But, it may not be. There is no other book that is this holy ground, and there is no other book which is the authoritative witness to God’s truth and work in this world. As I understand the Bible, it refers to Jesus as the Word of God. I cannot affirm that the Holy Scriptures are somehow equal in authority to the living Word, the Son of God. The Holy Scriptures are the witness to God’s revelation of himself in history, which is only made plain in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible shows that God gives of himself to redeem the world, going so far as to give his only Son on the cross to save the world. The scriptures bear witness to this glorious history, and reveal to us the living God, who guides us, judges us, heals us and saves us. The scriptures are that holy ground where we lose our footing and God questions us and we are called upon to answer. I fear that those who fail to distinguish the holy ground from the Holy One do so in order to escape the rule of God. I fear that those who call the Bible “God’s Word,” think that they have got God in a book, and can then utilize “God,” for their purposes. This book, which is meant to humble us before God and our neighbors then becomes a weapon to wield against the movement of God’s Spirit and our neighbors who disagree with us. Hence, God inspired the scriptures as a means of grace and freedom and humans often twist this by turning the scriptures into a means of condemnation, bitterness and division.