Friday, November 05, 2010

Something to think about over the weekend

Before I left town on Monday, I received an e-mail from Smyth & Helwys, a Baptist publisher. They were promoting their book of the month, Stand with Christ. I usually find their selected books to be thought provoking, and this was no exception. Here are a couple of excerpts from the featured chapter, but do read the whole thing.

As a child at Vacation Bible School, I pledged allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible—in that order. From an early age I was taught to cherish each of those, and I still love and respect what each of them represents. As I grew older, however, I learned to make distinctions and weigh values and the ordering of my allegiances shifted.

Today, my allegiance to Christ always comes first.

When I was a teenager growing up in an independent, fundamentalist Baptist church, we often sang a chorus I first learned as a child in VBS: “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes, that’s the book for me, I’ll stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” More often than that, I heard preachers pound on the pulpit and lift their Bibles high and forcefully thunder out rhetoric such as: “All we know about Jesus is in this book. If the Bible is not infallible and inerrant, then nobody, nobody, nobody can tell us how to get to God for sure.”1 At that time, it seemed clear to me that if you did not believe the Bible, you could not be saved. The Bible’s inerrancy served to “guarantee” that the Christian faith was true. Without it you could not be sure of your salvation. In essence, you had to pledge allegiance to the Bible before you could pledge allegiance to Christ. As I grew older and my faith and my thinking matured, however, the ordering of my allegiances shifted.

Today, my allegiance to Christ always comes first.

And, a bit further on

The developing sophistication of idolatry did not end in biblical times. Throughout the history of the church it has continued, in varying forms, to the present day. Its most recent modern form is the elevation of the Bible over Jesus.

Like the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple, and the Law, the role of the Bible in the drama of divine redemption is vital. But reverence for the Bible and its authority must never divert attention from the central and preeminent place Christ holds in the drama of redemption and revelation. There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). Jesus alone is the ground and foundation for our faith.

<idle musing>
Amen! This chapter sums up much of my problem with inerrancy and Bible worship. The elevation of the biblical text above Christ might not be intentional—and I suspect it isn't!—but God will allow nothing to come before Him—not even the Bible.
</idle musing>

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