Every generation wrestles with how to understand the Bible. Not just in terms of content (though there is that), but with regard to what the Bible actually is. And often, the wrestling winds up offering a take on the Bible that suggests we should respect and honor it, is doubtful as to its trustworthiness as a revelation of God’s will and character. Essentially, what you wind up with is a book that’s pretty much like any other. You can embrace the parts you find helpful and toss the rest.
But if the Bible is indeed the Word of God, that means what it says is what God says. It has authority. Correction: it is the ultimate source of authority for a Christian. It is truthful in everything that it teaches, without exception. It is a book overflowing with wisdom; it is “profitable” for us, equipping us in every way to live to the glory of God, even if that way seems strange to the world around us (2 Tim 3:17-18).
And this, I think, explains this tendency to redefine it. It’s an issue of authority. What this book says, God says. It tells us about how we were created to live, yes. But it does more than that. It tells a story about humanity. It speaks about humanity in a way no other book does. It doesn’t present us as being on a journey of progress, or as heroic figures, as any human author naturally would. Instead, when we read the Bible, we discover, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”[1. Walt Kelly, in the comic strip “Pogo”, April 22, 1971.] We don’t have all the answers. We aren’t good enough, smart enough, or doggone likable enough to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and realize our own potential. We need Someone to rescue us; to not just teach us how to be better people, but to make us new people. People with a desire to love, honor, and obey the One who created them. People who want to tell the entire world about Him!
That’s why this book matters. It is a book like no other. It’s the most humbling, frustrating, and awe-inspiring book you’ll ever read. But it’s the only one that has the answers to all the questions we don’t even know to ask.
Note: this post is part of an informal, periodic series exploring different theological concepts for another project I’m working on. As such, application is going to be limited. Hopefully the knowledge will be helpful.