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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What is the Bible?

Christians call the Bible "The Word of God." We do this because we believe it is revelation. What is not always so clear is what we mean by this short phrase. We trust that God is speaking to us through this book. We believe that the authors of the book are inspired by the Holy Spirit. We know that the teaching of this book is the foundation for constructing our doctrines and dogmas. It is pretty easy to make generic statements about 'The Bible' and to engage in wonderful debates about 'the Bible.' The Liberal/Modernist vs. Fundamentalist battle for the Bible has certainly been a mainstay of my Christian experience.

However, in my years as a Bible teacher and a Bible reader/studier I have personally found that the claims and counter claims do not ring true. It seems that Modernists and Fundamentalists are making claims that are based on assumptions which I do not embrace. In other words, I think that they both are missing the point. In the days ahead I am going to investigate some of my thoughts and beliefs about the Bible and how to read it. This book (Bible means book in Greek) is actually a library. It contains a wide variety of writings covering a long period of time (creation to the end of the world). There were numerous authors. Authorship includes multiple editors in some cases. In some books (Genesis) God walks around and talks to people. In other books (Lamentations) God is silent. In the Bible it is not uncommon to find different details and varying explanations of the same story (resurrection of Jesus, Chronicles//Kings). In Letter and Spirit (available through the St. Paul Center For Biblical Theology, or go to on page 11 of the Introduction we read "Truth is symphonic, especially divine truth." I think that is a good starting place. God is much larger than our beliefs. God is eternal. Whatever we say about God (or His revelation) needs to be humble. The enterprise of Bible reading is a more complex process than we sometimes admit. The Bible is God's word. We should work hard to learn how to read it!

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