Contrary to popular Christian belief, the Bible is not the Word of God. Where did I learn this? The Bible.
The Word of God
The Gospel According to John opens with the words, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Dropdown a couple paragraphs and John writes, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John then goes on to tell the story of Jesus who, according to the Bible, is the Word of God made flesh.
What is the Bible?
But if the Word of God became human in Jesus, then what is the Bible? Later in John, while talking to the religious leaders of the day, Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” This would make the Bible words about the Word of God. In other words, if we want to read the Bible as God intended, then the whole book is one giant invitation to get to know the unfailing love and faithfulness that is the Word of God who came to dwell among us in the man Jesus.
But there is another layer we need to work through. The core of the Bible is a narrative. It is written in time and space by flesh and blood people as they try to make sense of their experience with the Word of God. So more often than not, the Bible is their subjective description of what happened rather than God’s objective prescription of what should happen. The Bible is really about humanity wrestling with a loving and faithful God whose ways are often contrary to our own.
Why describe it as wrestling? Because there is a strange story in Genesis 32 where a guy named Jacob, one of the early central characters in the Bible’s narrative, spends the night wrestling with an angel. At the end of the night, the angel blessed Jacob and changes his name to Israel which means, to wrestle. Jacob’s descendants are collectively called Israel and take a central role in the Bible’s narrative. The story of the Hebrew Bible is the story of a people wrestling with God. That story continues into the Christian New Testament with Jesus and the Church.
The Key Point
If we want to find health abundance through the Bible, then we need to stop reading the Bible as if it is some sacred text that fell from the sky. It is not the owner’s manual to the human life or, as a pop Christian song in the late ‘90s described it, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.
The Bible is an invitation to step into the stories of other people who wrestled with a faithful and loving God so we can wrestle with that God too.
Article: Christianity vs. Biblicism by Brian Zahnd
Where did our understanding of the Bible go wrong? In this post, Pastor Brian Zahnd offers a beautiful analogy to explain how we got where we are. In the process, he contrasts what I call the Christian faith (and he calls Christianity) with a faith that mistakes the Bible for the Word of God (what he calls Biblicism).
Video: When God Isn’t Like God
While this video is part of a larger series I recorded on the Sermon on the Mount, it offers thoughts on what to do when the Bible reveals a God who acts in ungodly ways. Be sure to like, subscribe, and share while you’re there!
Book: The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Pete Enns (affiliate)
After a whole post arguing that the Bible is not the word of God it feels odd recommending a book where the author calls the Bible the Word of God, but the rest of the book is just too good not to recommend. For a free taste of Pete check out this post and his podcast, The Bible For Normal People.
As you read the Bible, what story do you find yourself wrestling with? Reply to this email and let me know. Let’s step into the struggle together. It is not about finding answers, but engaging with the story in hopes that we too might see the loving and faithful Word of God.
Just like the Christian faith often gets the Bible wrong, it also gets Jesus wrong. That is because while Jesus is God’s only Son, Jesus is not the only Son of God. More on that tomorrow.
This post is the first in a five-part series on rescuing Christian faith from Christianity. To receive the full series, sign up for our weekly email for spiritual misfits who realize that Christianity is broken but Christian faith doesn’t have to be.
All Bible quotes come from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.