Does the Bible seem like an intimidating book that is either irrelevant to our society or a tool for self-righteous people to beat others over the head? As a pastor and Christian teacher, the Bible is very important to me. Yet, I realize that many people that I teach do not have a basic understanding of this book. This post is a simple explanation of how I view the Bible and why I think it is important for our day.
There is a wide spectrum of opinions about the Bible. On one end of the spectrum, some people say the Bible is just another dusty old document that should be placed on the archives shelf next to authors like Homer, Plato, Confucius, Virgil, etc. It is a human document filled with ancient ideas about a mythical god that has nothing to do with the modern world.
What Lutherans Think about the Bible On the other end of the spectrum, some people say that the 66 books contained within the canon of Hebrew and Christian scripture, as determined by the Council of Nicea, is the definitive, infallible, Word of God, verbally dictated from the voice of God directly to the hand of the scribe, and passed down through the generations, unblemished by human contact, for the specific purpose of giving clear and definitive instructions on human behavior for every single person on the planet. Anything outside of the Bible cannot be considered the Word of God. This group’s favorite motto is, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”
My view of scripture will most likely offend both extremes on this spectrum. Many apologies.
This video provides a quick, visual history of the Word of God.
This is the working framework for how I approach the Bible:
The Word of God is defined as the direct interaction between God and humanity. It comes in many forms—as many forms as there are people and cultures. God is active in creation and calls all people into an infinitely deepening relationship. The Scripture of the Hebrews and the 1st century Christians is an accurate, reliable, formational collection of documents that records the authentic interaction of a specific group of people, operating within a specific social/political/theological framework (a variety of these throughout the 1400 years of its internal history) with the infinite God.
Why should we study it? Because it is real. It records the experiences of real people who encountered the real God and real things—wild and crazy things—happened. They set the example for us. These stories reveal to us aspects of God’s nature that we would perhaps never know. These stories create a common touchpoint to which every generation can refer and infer. These are our formational stories. They create who we are as Christians and teach us how to interact with the world around us.
The world we live in today is different than the ancient world. The specific issues of politics, ethics, technology, and knowledge have changed dramatically, and will continue to change. It is our job, as students of the text, to listen to God in the Word and in the World, and to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit, then and now. More than that, we are invited to follow where the Spirit leads as we listen.
With that said, there is a lot of Bible Study material on this site, and hopefully more will come. CLICK HERE to explore my illustrated Bible Bookshelf (yep, I cartooned my way through the Bible.
Enjoy the journey!