Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Idolatry of Scripture?

A facebook friend, David Flowers, posted a comment on his profile that he'd be blogging about a matter that he "believes many Christians are "Bible-centered" instead of Christ-centered".

Many would find this abrasive and downright heretical. Is it really, or is it possible that we've been so trained in the ways of religious thinking that we don't hear what people like David Flowers are saying?

I agree with David's observation. I think this has been a problem since forever. The Scribes and Pharisees (the "professionals" and "clergy" of Jesus day) were chiefly guilty of this. They certainly revered the Scriptures more than anyone else, yet they missed the revelation of the person of God in Jesus Christ. Did they lack willingness or zeal? Did they simply ignore certain parts of scripture? Perhaps they just hadn't read Isaiah? No! They were experts in ALL the scriptures. They revered it more than anyone else - even refusing to say or write the name of God out of reverence. Understand that these guys had ALL the the scriptures of their time memorized!

I think many today, through ignorance and the semantics of the English language have come to believe that the "Word" in John 1.1 is the scripture. It's not, the "Word" in John 1.1 is Jesus!

The "Word" (gk. logos) in John 1.1 could be understood as God's "communication" to man. The scriptures are very clear here that Jesus (not the scriptures) are the essence of God's revelation of himself to mankind. Of course, scriptures too reveal God to man, but when God wanted to "encapsulate" Himself in a form we could understand and relate to, he chose the person of Jesus Christ.

Herein is the rub that I think guys like David Flowers have picked up on. Many seem to have missed this and are acting as if God's Logos is the scripture. To say so is NOT to dismiss the revelation that is in Scripture. But by itself (as many have pointed out in the comments to David's comment) is not sufficient for relating to God. Once cannot achieve eternal life from reading/knowing the scriptures alone. Why?! Because they reveal man's need to be restored to relationship to God, and further, God's single means of providing that relationship - Jesus Christ!

Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God. Yes! Agreed! Amen! However, the scriptures do not create a relationship with God, they only reveal how to have one through the single means God provided for relating to himself - Jesus the Christ.

Therefore, it can be said that we cannot relate to God outside of the Jesus Christ AS revealed in Scripture. However, it IS possible to know, love, and even idolize the scripture, but not have relationship. That's Bible-centeredness! That's "having a form of godliness but denying it's power".

Relationship with Jesus -- Scriptures = Unfruitful Life
Relationship with Jesus + word of God = Eternal Life.
Scriptire w/o Relationship with Jesus = Empty Religion.

A few disclaimers:
1. I believe that all scripture is God-breathed and inspired by God.
2. I don't believe that one can have Jesus, but reject the scriptures.
3. I believe that Jesus is the ONLY way to relate to God and have eternal, abundant life. This message is contained in scripture, the hearing of which must be united with faith in our hearts, confession with our mouths, and entering into relationship with Christ on the basis of his finished work on our behalf at Calvary.
4. I LOVE the scriptures, because they reveal the God that I am in relationship with.

1 comment:

Andrew B said...

Andrew,

Thanks for explaining this. I didn't understand why so many people got so upset at David's proposition.

Your set three equations at the end is a nice summary. But I wonder if the first one is true. Jesus is a living spiritual person who exists independently of the Bible. Why is it not possible to have a fruitful relationship with Him without access to the Bible?

Yay! Am I really the first person to comment on the first post of your brand new blog?