Over the past two years or so I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my thoughts on the bible and what it is and my views on it. From sitting down with concerned pastors, questioning friends, seeking unbelievers to curious ministry partners I’ve attempted to explain my view on the Bible and the place it has in my life.
I’m going to attempt to explain it, maybe in a few posts maybe in one, we’ll see where the length takes me. The point though isn’t to through it up there so you can say ‘see, that’s what Nathan thinks, he’s a heretic.’ Instead it will be put up to challenge and for me to be challenged. So leave comments or challenges on the post and let’s help come to a better understanding of this wonderful book. I also have done a number of posts on the bible before, so I’m going to try and not repeat myself in detail, so you can check those out below. So this is more of a continuance of this series. There is also lots of discussion on those posts as well.
Going to York has challenged my belief on the bible even more than when I was studying it on my own. I am under teachers that don’t believe the bible is anything more than a fantastic story with tons of depth. They believe that it is very one-sided; meaning that whoever the author is was biased to their beliefs and their orientation. They point out contradictions all throughout the bible almost as to rub it in the evangelical face. They show the brutality of some of the stories, the brutality of our God and show how so much of the bible can be found in other ancient texts that have been circulating for much longer than the bible ever has.
Many people in Christian circles call the Bible the Word of God. This I think does not do justice to what the bible actually is. The bible itself never actually calls itself the Word of God, but instead refers to Christ as the Word of God (John 1:1). So it is not the Word of God as a text. However the bible also talks about the word of God as being some sort of message (Acts 11:1, Acts 12:24, 1 Cor 14:36, Eph 6:17, Heb 4:12) or ‘good news.’ This is interesting because if the Word of God is Jesus, well he is also the good news, so that makes sense to call the good news and Jesus, which is a parallel statement the Word of God.
So where does this leave us with the 66 books of the bible; the stories of the Israelites and the Torah. Where does this leave us with the Psalms and the Proverbs and the Prophets? Well if there is one thing that I absolutely love about the bible is that there is such a wonderful message through every single book. The message is redemption. The bible is a book of redemptive history. The bible shows us God’s interactions through history and his plan unfolding to the salvation of humankind. The bible is an unfolding story. The bible shows us God’s work from the beginning to now. If you study the Israel history, or character narratives such as Job or Esther, or study the Psalms or the creation account or the gospels or the Pauline letters it will be unmistakable that there is a point to each book and they each come together to present us with one message; more specifically, one person; Jesus Christ.
The bible points to Jesus Christ in every story, in ever genealogy, in every law. The bible itself is no more than a pointer to the point of itself. The point is Jesus. The point was never to be the bible. The bible has become an idol is so many churches today where we lift up its words higher than Jesus himself. The bible was never meant to be the cornerstone; Jesus was. I love how Rob Bell puts it: that the church suffers from biblidolatry. Where we have got the messenger and the message mixed up. We need to put the bible in its right place in our lives and within the church. Not to a place where we put it on a pedestal overriding all of our actions but where instead we allow it to point us to Christ where he teaches us what it means to truly live a life without the need for a book full of rules but instead live a life that is powered by Him.