Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Bible Is God's Word!

I have never had a problem with the reliability of the Bible. I know it contains God's message of Good News to man. As I mentioned Sunday, if you believe there is a God, it's reasonable to expect him to communicate both his will for us - as the only part of his creation made in his image, and his directions for how to have a relationship with him. When we understand that he created us to be in a relationship with him, the meaning and purpose of the Bible is clear, and it changes the way we interpret every word of it. His Spirit inspired or guided the writers, and protected it from destruction or alteration through the centuries.
I have never really had any problems with the canonicity of the Bible - that is, are the right books in there or did something get left out that should have been in there. One of my standard "religious jokes" through the years has been, "We don't agree with the Catholics on hardly anything, yet we believe they did a perfect job of deciding which books belong in the Bible." I called it "selective trust" or maybe "grudging admiration" since we traditionally believe we have "all the pieces of the puzzle." The truth is, nearly the entire list of books that made the final cut had been considered "canonical" decades, even a couple centuries, before the formalization of it around 400 AD, and it involved a lot more scholars and theologians than a council of Catholic leaders.
What I have had problems with for several decades, is the assumption that God intended for his church to have access to all the pieces of the puzzle before we can know the truth. Because - as our traditional interpretive methodology has declared - you need all the parts to put together all the doctrinal patterns that complete the picture of what it means to truly be Christians like they were in the New Testament (aka - Restoration Theology). If that was the plan, it was poorly executed - especially when you consider how few people over the last two thousand years have had access to all the pieces (i.e. all twenty-seven NT books). How long has it been available to anyone who wanted to see it? Maybe the last two to three centuries? And how many of those first or second century brethren had access to all the parts.
I believe THE Gospel - the good news of Jesus - saves. Jesus is the truth. The truth is not having all the pieces of the doctrinal puzzle figured out. Consider this, if you only had a copy of one of the Gospels, would you have enough to become a child of God and be pleasing to God? I think you would. Everything else is great, but it's the tool box to help, not the law book to make us righteous.

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