Playing both ends against the middle: Part I
It wasn’t very long ago a fellow blogger wrote about Bible idolatry provoked by a sermon he heard.
I began to get very uneasy as he continued to exalt the Bible and blur the lines between what was God and what was the Bible. Finally, He held the Bible high in the air, quoted John 1:1-2 and said, “This is God, right here!” Wow. That was so wrong. Like so many Bible-idolizing preachers have done before, he took things way too far.
Intrigued by his take on errors in the Bible, I wrote the following:
The Bible is a book which is a collection of books by many different authors, but a peculiarity of the Bible is its underlying Authorship (Intentional capitalization). 2 Timothy 3:16 is a verse Christians typically refer to concerning that. Combined with other verses and theological reasoning, Authorship of the Bible is accepted as being God. All 66 books of the Bible are considered consistent with each other as sacred canon or authentic. It’s accepted, therefore, that the message, content and spirit of the Word of God (synonym of the Bible) speaks as God, consistently and without error. In John 17:17 Jesus refers to the Word of God as truth, and Psalm 19:7-14 gives further support to this. Essentially, to accept the Bible as having even one error would be a slope too slippery to overcome.
I’ll stand by that statement, and particularly because of the scripture references which bear special consideration as I continue. Mistakes in accuracy are one thing, errors as deviations from the truth are quite another. Some differentiate between Biblical inerrancy or infallibility, and some conflate them. There seems to be some confusion between the two, just as there is some confusion between the concepts of the immaculate conception and the virgin birth. Suffice it to say, I am of the opinion that the Bible is true in all points that matter, even though there may be particular inaccuracies or mistranslations which are but trivialities to the greater theme and points of faith. So I come to this point that the fidelity of the Bible as God’s word is, at least in my mind, without question.
On the other hand, there are those who seem to have proverbially thrown the baby out with the bath water, and believe me this is a particularly apt metaphor. Take note of the passage mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16 above. It seems there are those who are opposed to bibliolatry, but for a completely different reason.
The bible is not the WORD OF GOD. And if we believe it as such, then we have made the bible into an idol. The bible has become the Church’s idol.
There are few things more fun than a frank discussion of theology. Fun as in how to pick a fight. Making it plain that the Bible isn’t the Word of God is a great way to start one. That is if the other person is a serious Christian believer who takes the Word of God seriously.
The ancient Hebrews had taken the God of their forefathers and formed him into their image. They made him take on their identity because they could not grasp to what extent the WORD OF GOD was present with them. Yes, indeed it has been said for thousands of years that the ancient Hebrews were fools for doing so, but my dear friend so are we.
Actually, the Hebrews didn’t form God into their image, they rejected God and formed another one out of an image with which they were convenient. Besides the gobble-de-gook about the “extent the WORD OF GOD was present with them” is just an attempt to make it seem spiritual.
Just as the Hebrews, we have made the WORD OF GOD into our image – the bible. And by doing so have not elevated God, but relegated him to the lowliest place. Our misappropriation of authority has inevitably resulted in our inability to distinguish between what we THINK God requires of us, and what God ACTUALLY requires of us. This misappropriation has resulted in our use of superfluous language.
His assessment is interesting in that it’s exactly what evangelicals, particularly of the emergent variety, have done with the Word of God. So in some convoluted respect, he’s right. The Bible gets eisegeted not exegeted. The Bible is best taken as a complete narrative from the context of the author(s), but this is too difficult a task to employ and it’s easier to eisegete what are misunderstood passages. They instead love to constantly allegorize from it, and THAT is what relegates it to the lowliest place. That “misappropriation of authority” he mentions conveniently fits that.
So on the one hand there are those who inappropriately exalt or deify the Bible, the Word of God, beyond its station, and on the other there are those who degrade it beneath its proper significance. As I’ve stated in the previous post, I’m of the belief that the Bible is the Word of God because of its Authorship, from Genesis to Revelation. An important point. I’ll continue to dissect this Emergent Village post in a subsequent one of my own.