In areas subjects of theology, even a small change is formidable, and I believe we’re encountering the beginnings of such a change in how the people of God (or at least, for many of them) see the Bible.
And I’d appreciate you hearing me out
Now before we talk about what the Bible “is not,” it might be best to remember what the Bible IS.
First, let’s acknowledge that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and IS profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the servant of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible is the profitable foundation for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction so that we may be complete.
It is our only Sword of the Spirit, and is the best conceivable weapon against the enemy: it was for Jesus, and it is for us. It is a pillar of our faith, the indescribably precious treasure to all who walk in faith.
But there are some things that the Bible is not, which we have let it become. It seems to me that Father is correcting some of these errors in these days.
The first thing that I’m seeing happen is that the Bible is being removed from its traditional place in the Trinity. I know several denominations who have behaved (not taught!) that the Trinity was made up of Father, Son, and Holy Bible, that the Bible is itself, divine. They spoke and behaved as if their primary heavenly relationship was with the Bible, not with the person of God.
That’s actually a mistake, of course, and stopping to think about it will reveal the truth is that the Bible is not a person of the Trinity; it is not in itself, God. Rather, the Bible is about God, it leads us to God, and it speaks for God, which is to say that God speaks through it.
The Bible says of itself, as quoted above, that it is “given by inspiration of God.” Another translation reads “God-breathed.” Theologically, we say it’s “inspired writing.” Another way of saying that is to say that the men who wrote it were inspired by God when they wrote.
But let us acknowledge that while it is “profitable for teaching,” we might want to be careful what we teach and how we teach it, when we teach from the Bible.
There’s a fair bit of the Bible (most of the book of Job comes to mind) are accurate, inspired, infallible records of what people said, but the things that they said, though accurately recorded, are foolish lies about who God is and how he works. I advise not teaching theology from the lies that are accurately recorded.
A friend of mine – and probably some of yours have done this, too – once tested the “profitable” status of the Bible. She opened the Book randomly and plopped her finger on the page (I call this “Bible Roulette”), and read the verse she was on. It read, “and Judas went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:5) Since she couldn’t find anything useful in that, she flipped some more pages, and dropped her finger again, this time on Luke 10:37: “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise’.” She didn’t try that again. The Bible is not a fortune teller.
The point is this: while all of the Bible is inspired, and all of it is profitable to teach, it’s not all profitable to teach all things. My friend figured this out, and, fortunately, she chose not to go and hang herself.
I’m going to use a politically incorrect analogy. I am a huge fan of the glory that is embodied in the female half of our species. I’m constantly amazed by the richness of the difference between men (well, at least this man) and godly women. Women seem to have a better handle on gifts of mercy, of discernment, of encouragement. I’ve learned mountains from women pastors, women prophets, women intercessors, and at least one woman apostle. We could go on and on.
But there’s a phenomenon in our culture that does to women what much of the church has done to the Bible: we’ve objectified them. In our culture, the objectification of women shows up in glossy skin magazines, in a thriving porn industry, even in the use of unrelated pretty faces to get our attention in movies, advertisements, and the like.
If I may take a stand on that trend, I will say that this is NOT the right way to treat women, and for a whole lot of reasons. Not least of which, is that it completely denies the vast majority of the magnificent riches that women have and are. Brethren, it ought not be so!
But we do pretty much the same thing with the Bible. We look to the Bible to be our “quick fix.” We paste out-of-context Bible verses on pretty pictures and cover our Facebook walls. When we’re feeling needy, we look for fast answers from its pages; when we want direction, we search those pages for answers with the same attention that the followers of horoscopes search their own pages. Brethren, this, too, ought not be so.
It is not actually heresy for me to declare that the Bible is not a destination. God never planned that we’d use the revelations of his written Word as a replacement for a relationship with himself! That’s actually idolatry, or if you prefer, Bibliolatry. It’s a serious error.
The Bible is always a means TO an end. It’s a roadmap to understand God’s heart. It’s a love story from him to us, drawing us to him. It’s a garden, where we can sit with him under the apple tree and gaze into each other’s eyes. It’s a treasure map, showing us where to search out the treasures that he’s hidden, like Easter eggs, for us to find. It’s full of instructional stories, showing how many our brothers and sisters, our forefathers and foremothers discovered the riches of relationship with their eternal lover, or how they failed and fell short. All these are for us to learn from, not to be studied or memorized as a substitute for our won love relationship with God.
It is my hope that we’ll catch ourselves when our search stops merely at his Book, as wonderful, as powerful, as necessary as the Book is, and use the rich treasures of the Book to lead us to deeper relationship with its incredible Author.