The Bible Is Essential
This Christ-Following Stuff Can't Be Done Without It
Over the years, there has been a steady stream of movements within the learned folks of the Christian churches, colleges, and seminaries which have tried to wean the Church from its dependence on the Bible. They've pointed to errors of facts and even of judgement by its human authors. They've pointed to its crazy illogic. They've applied all sorts of literary and historical criticisms to it, and said all sorts of things about the supposed motives of the very human authors. They've applied comparative religious studies to the Bible to show the many ways it is essentially like other religious books (and it is). They've condemned how it speaks of war, brutality (including that which appears to be required by God), slavery, gender, human goodness/evilness, progress, family, sex, commerce, cultures, other peoples, and just about everything else. Then they decided they can ignore those parts, or even that such things make rejecting the Bible an essential for a healthy mind. They've explained away all miracles, all demonstrations of power, all of anything that would make the leaders of the Testaments anything worth remarking about. They've read it through the colored glasses of the faith as they want it to be, usually according to a political philosophy or an economic status, which is today's essential measure of all goodness. They've selectively used it to try to get Christian believers to go along with the latest social trends of the day. They've blamed the Bible for nearly every ill that has ever beset any believers or any group of believers.
Still, in generation after generation, those who truly seek a relationship with God eventually stumble their way to the Bible. They find themselves touched, strangely warmed, dumbfounded, and even struck to the floor in tears. Even in the hard parts, the ugly parts, the bizarre parts, the parts they hate, and the parts they can't explain. They see a vision for a world that is strangely familiar yet starkly different than what we see today, and discover where the hints of this other vision are sprouting up in the world we know, through the pavement, in the cracks. In the Testaments, they find God there with us in our best and worst, in the kinds of happenings that make for life in the pivotal moments and in the day-to-day. They find the core, the grid, the backbone, the safety net, the substance, the meat, the direction of not just their relationship with God, but also their relationship with other humans, with all of creation, and with time itself. They find the untold depths of real-ness of prophets, chosen leaders, a chosen people, apostles, deacons, and sons of encouragement -- a real-ness they can't find in the increasingly false world they live in. They discover what changes, what is essential, and how the two are not mutually exclusive. They find what love really means and where its roots are. Most importantly, the Bible is the unique witness to the life of the One person on whom all of this hinges, the only One who gives the phrase "relationship with God" all of its true meaning. The One, Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed One of God. They discover what makes the Bible essential for the Christian faith.
The following words are terms that many Christians use when they try to describe the role the Scriptures play in shaping the Christian faith. None quite fit. All the terms lack something, or are easily stretched to mean more (or less) than they do. But you'll get the gist of what these words tell you about how important the Bible is to getting the relationship right.
When describing the Christian Scriptures, what do these words mean: