The Bible is not the Word of God

The scriptures are God-breathed but they are not “The Word of God”. The Word of God is Jesus. A person and not a book. The scriptures are about the Word of God (Jesus said so) but they are not Him.

Prove otherwise from the scriptures if you can.

Why do people refer to the Bible as the word of God? I don’t really know. It might be because people would prefer to read a book than rely on experiencing Jesus. A book is more controllable than a God 🙂

Heretic


90 thoughts on “The Bible is not the Word of God

  1. Yes a really good one. This is my understanding also. The Scriptures are God-breathed and they provide the keys for unlocking and knowing the Truth (which is Jesus).

    Doesn’t sound much different but the outworking of our experiences in Him (the Logos – blue print of life), in the light of Scripture becomes very different. Especially when dealing with different cultural and historical contexts.

    Again the relationship with the Word (Jesus) becomes more important than our understanding of the Word (doctrine). But a better understanding of the latter ignites the former.

  2. “Before He Became Flesh, John Called Him “The Word”
    John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    Why was he called “the Word”? One way to answer this is to ponder what he might have been called and why this would have been inadequate in relationship to “the Word.” For example, he might been called “the Deed”: “In beginning was the deed and the deed was with God and the deed was God.” One of the differences between a deed and the Word is that a deed is more ambiguous. If we think our words are sometimes unclear and subject to various interpretations, our deeds are far more unclear and ambiguous. That’s why we so often explain ourselves with words.

    Words capture the meaning of what we do more clearly than the deeds themselves. God did many mighty deeds in history, but he gave a certain priority to the Word. One of the reasons, I think, is that he puts a high value on clarity and communication.

    Another example is that John might have called him “the Thought.” “In the beginning was the Thought, and the Thought was with God and the Thought was God.” But one of the differences between a thought and a word is that a word is generally pictured as moving outward from the thinker for the sake of establishing communication. I think John wanted us to conceive of the Son of God as existing both for the sake of communication between him and the Father, and for the sake of appearing in history as God’s communication to us.

    A third example is that John might have called him “the Feeling.” “In the beginning was the Feeling, and the Feeling was with God and the Feeling was God.” But again, I would say, feelings do not carry any clear conception or intention or meaning. Feelings, like deeds, are ambiguous and need to be explained – with words. So it seems to me that calling Jesus “the Word” is John’s way of emphasizing that the very existence of the Son of God is for the sake of communication. First, and foremost, he exists, and has always existed, from all eternity for the sake of communication with the Father.

    Secondarily, but infinitely important for us, the Son of God became divine communication to us. One might say, in summary, calling Jesus “the Word” implies that he is “God-Expressing-Himself” – John Piper

  3. I have a relationship with Christ through His Word, that is how He speaks to me, and through preaching – which can bring great conviction through its supernatural power of the Word “rightly divided”.

    Amazing how you can be a Christian for 22 years and the gospel becomes even more relevant.

    I no longer or listen for “voices” that cannot be verified by that same Word. Even now after 2 years away from C3, I cringe when I hear friends claim personal revelation through the “audible” voice,(some are extreme Word of Faith, a thing I’ve noticed becoming more prevelant at C3). They make outrageous claims that can’t be held up to the light of His Word – the only standard He’s given us.

    I can’t separate the two.

  4. Teddy – does Christ speak to you through your experiences in life, everyday occurances, other people or His Creation (eg when you look at the stars)?

    Or is it solely throught the revelation of His written Word?

  5. Heretic, how do you “experience” Jesus? What becomes the measure to judge that experience? Do you have a high view or low view of Scripture?

    One of the major problems in the church today is that, Christian leaders (and Christians in general) have been conditioned to treat God’s Holy Word as a fallible human work — even though many would claim it to be the inerrant and infallible Word of God

    We have Franc’s “experience” and because I know him, I have no problem putting him in a category that refutes his “experience”. And I’m not doubting his sincerity that he believes it’s “God”.

  6. Muppet, yes of course He speaks to me through what I call His providence, something so wonderful that in the “looking for miracles” we miss the everyday interaction of His love and provision.

    But because we have a culture in the church today that allows experience to trump theology, people are becoming confused. Some seem to have the mountain top experiences all the time – there’s an addiction almost, to the “feelings”, yet the Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all else.

    We had a guy in church years ago who wanted to do what he called “flip-flops” in front of the church – a kindly deacon deacon took him aside and chatted with him. He was an emotional wreck but by his “experience” it was God. Would his experience bring people closer to God? – God did speak through an ass. But the truth was, drugs.

    We have had two young people come in and confess to murder. Was that God? Yes, there was repentance AND jail. Two totally different experiences.

  7. And Muppet, when I was 6 years old, I looked up at the stars and knew there was a God. I was from a totally non-christian family!

  8. Teddy – couldn’t agree with you more!

    Just asking, because I want to know where you’re coming from. Being new to this, I need to know where people are at so I don’t misunderstand a comment again.

    I spoke to soon on Saturday – it would be foolish to repeat the mistake.

  9. Heretic:”Why do people refer to the Bible as the word of God? I don’t really know. It might be because people would prefer to read a book than rely on experiencing Jesus. A book is more controllable than a God”

    You can’t have relationship with a book. I think the answer to your question is precisely because it is His Word.

    It is not God’s fault we don’t rightly divide it or understand it.

    The fundamental question you are really asking is how do we experience or perhaps more to the point know God.

    We know Him through His written Word, the leadings and directions of the Holy Spirit including personal revelations/encounters, and applying our God given intellect and heart to those things, and what the Spirit says to us.

    How do I know about Jesus? Primarliy through a comination of the above, and through my being convinced of the historicity of Christ.

    If we separate the written Word out, slowly pick away at it, we are really saying we don’t trust you God, and imagining God in our own image even more than we do already.

    I take the written Word as the primary way God has given us to have a common understanding of who He is, and what He expects of us.

    And I have total faith in Him that He can maintain the integrity of that through the ages, even though I and most people I know are like Uzzah who thought God needed extra help, disobeyed the instructions on how deal with the Ark, and promptly died.

  10. It’s a safe place here, Muppet – we’re all opinionated! I love it – but it can take time to figure out where someone is coming from. Like Heretic’s point of view re the Bible.:)

  11. “If we separate the written Word out, slowly pick away at it, we are really saying we don’t trust you God, and imagining God in our own image even more than we do already.”

    So true MN!

  12. Teddy: “…because we have a culture in the church today that allows experience to trump theology, people are becoming confused. Some seem to have the mountain top experiences all the time – there’s an addiction almost, to the “feelings”, yet the Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all else.”

    I know what you mean Teddy. I spent well over 25 years in evangelical and reformed churches who in practical terms took a view that all manifestations of the Spirit were Satanic, with often an unholy pride in their knowledge of the written word.

    The way I have perceived is that as a generalisation Charismatics value experience over faithul Biblical expository teaching to the extent that experience always overrides the Word, and evangelical reformers deny the power of God in their lives by legalistic limiting what they think God can or should do.

    I can’t see that either is right, and that the purposes of God are being frustrated (if that is possible) by both tendencies.

    As you say I think there is an addictiveness to ‘experience’ that genuinely subverts and diminishes God’s written words to us.

    I agree with your quote where the heart is deceitful above all things.

    But I question if that is an appropriate place to live out of given we are also told: (2 Cor 5)

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

    If we are a new creation in Christ are not our hearts now also good in Him? To say otherwise is I think very dangerous leading to a failure to trust in what Jesus has done for us.

    My thesis on the broader issue is either we do not yield and submit our relationship and our experience of God to the rulers that we have been given to run these things over in the Bible to test their authenticity, and indeed whether it is the ‘old man’ here running away with ourselves, or the ‘new man’…..

    Or…we use Scripture falsely to try and exclude any additional direction from the Spirit because that might be too hard to deal with.

    For me again it comes back to the church collectively functioning as the body of Christ to help us work through to who God He wants for us, and how we should live, forming a vital linkage between Word and Spirit, individual and church, God and man.

  13. Heretic can’t comment right now, but I can vouch that he holds scripture in very high esteem, and is not trying to devalue it. For example, it is scripture which reveals to us that Jesus is the Word, which clearly he is respecting.

    We really need to be in relationship with Jesus to walk our way through scripture without becoming legalistic. Without that relationship, scripture can become rules, and freedom is lost.

    Plus while the Bible is extremely helpful to us, there are people who can’t access it for some reason, or who have limited access, and fortunately they can still have a relationship with the Word, Jesus.

    Someone can read the Bible, but have no relationship with the Word. Without that relationship, much of the bible will not be illuminated to them – unless by the work of the Holy Spirit, it becomes illuminating to them and leads them into relationship with the Word.

    There is so much interdependence, isn’t there.

  14. “For me again it comes back to the church collectively functioning as the body of Christ to help us work through to who God He wants for us, and how we should live, forming a vital linkage between Word and Spirit, individual and church, God and man.”

    Yes, I think that’s really important. After all, to some extent, Jesus is revealed to us through His presence in one another. We see Him in each other, and that also enhances our knowledge and relationship with Him. I’m not saying of course that we _always_ see Jesus in one another, but certainly it is a way that the church works. This can work in synergy with scripture as well.

  15. I agree, we are now found complete in Him, but we still sin “according to the flesh” – the one remaining domain, our flesh. We are putting to death the sins of our flesh. Paul is saying that the Spirit provides us with the energy and power to continually and gradually deal with our sins, a process not completed in this life. Romans 8:12-17.

    And though we sin daily, those sins are covered through our redemption. To me one of the most gracious “gifts” in my life is conviction! Without the Holy Spirit there’s none.

    Francis Schaeffer is someone I admire. Years ago, I read his books (I wish I had paid more attention!)- a lot of what he warned the church about 30 years ago has come to pass.

    “How Then should We Live”
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1998035952933796581

  16. RP, I understand what you mean about anyone reading the Bible. Case in point, my husband’s uncle, a very high degree Freemason. When we became Christians and were sharing that conversion experience with him, it was really treated with contempt.

    “I’ve read the Bible, I’ve read all the religious books, I know everything” – very condescending, very sad really. Really highlighted the fact that faith is a gift from God, a gift he despised.

    Well, he knows the truth now, sadly, as he died a few months ago.

    Is Heretic’s point, one of those moments where, he’s trying to say something but I just don’t get it?

  17. I think Heretic is refering to the Word as in – “In the beginning was the Word…”

    In other words the person of Jesus is being referred to. The Bible (the book) wasn’t in the beginning… ?!

  18. Well, we were always going to have the Word (the Bible), God’s revealed word to the elect OT and NT.
    All Scripture is God-breathed – I still think we are at cross-purposes here, pardon the pun.

  19. In the beginning Jesus was reading about Himself in the Bible??? Before He created anything?

    Cross purposes indeed – I’m confused also – best let Heretic speak for himself.

  20. Wow, really painted into a corner!!!!! Jesus is the Word made flesh. Funny thing though, Jesus could read about himself in the bible before the beginning if he wanted to – after all he knows everything, knew everything, ordained everything. Heretic, where are you?

  21. How could He read without eyes? Now you’re just messing with me and I’ve only had about 3 hours sleep since Friday. Time for me to go before my brain explodes!

  22. Sorry that didn’t make sense – I meant for the book to be read Jesus would have to be present in the Flesh. (ie He would need His eyes).

  23. “A book is more controllable than a God” – therein lies the problem for me. I believe God is in complete control of His Book which is why we hold it our hands today. Not the Message Bible or books of those ilk but the literal translated word preserved by God himself for the spreading of the gospel.

    Translated by those gifted in the ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to make solid, correct translations.

  24. Heretoc1: “Prove otherwise from the scriptures if you can.”

    NIV Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

    I believe ‘word’ here can be seen here to be Jesus. But not sure if this is what others may think.

    “Why do people refer to the Bible as the word of God? I don’t really know.”

    From my understanding, the bible was called “word of God” so that the speaker who was making his claims his claims in the bible, would not be questioned or challenged.

    I call the bible the “Word Of God” because when I have an encounter or get a word from God, prophet or teacher, I examine it to see if it lines up with the character of God.

    Now because I have read the bible, and I know His characteristics all the more, discernment has been inbuilt into me. It’s easy to spot dodgy ‘words’, doctrines and odd actions and know if they are of God or not because of my understanding of God’s character which He has revealed to me through His Word.

    Just as God said “I Am…”; just as Jesus said “I Am…”; so to does the Word/bible say “I Am…”. Their claims define the amazing attributes of God and continually grow me up as I adventure with Him and grow in experience with Him by my side.

  25. I’m not sure what “God-breathed” means when referring to the inspiration of the Scriptures.

    Does it mean something like dictated, or does it mean the writers heard from God but could have introduced some errors?

    There are well known passages in the Bible which conflict with others, also some that conflict with known facts of history or geography. Not major conflicts, but certainly show that the books are not perfect.

  26. Since God is responsible to provide man with the “perfect standard,” by which to live, He must be sure it is without error. A standard that has errors in it is not a standard at all.

    Basically, since God holds man accountable for his sin, then God is responsible to provide us with His “standard” for man. This “standard” must be readable, easy to understand, readily available, and accurate, or else God could not hold us accountable.

  27. I believe that Jesus is the Word, as revealed in 1 John 1:

    ” 1(A)In the beginning was (B)the Word, and the Word was (C)with God, and (D)the Word was God. ”

    Clearly, here, the Word is Jesus. The Word was (is) God.

    Scripture is different from ‘the Word’.

    2 Tim 3:16
    “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

    ***************

    Something that is inspired by God is different from something (someone) who _is_ God.

    So Jesus is the Word, and is separate from scripture, which is inspired by God, reveals God’s nature to us, but is not itself God.

    We don’t worship a book – we worship a Person. We aren’t created by a book – we have been created by a Person – the Word.

  28. God is not capable of error. However, translators certainly are. We certainly are too, in terms of our understanding. While scripture is a standard, the version of it we have is open to correction and improved understanding over time. This is the case with many standards.

    So it is a standard which is not entirely imutable – in that sometimes new understandings of the original Greek or Hebrew are ascertained or debated, or the world view through which it is being translated changes as our undrestanding grows.

    There are certainly better and worse translations of scripture.

  29. “Heretic, where are you?” – Teddy

    Heretic does not blog from work. It is verboten. But am now home hours early. Woopee!

  30. Would you agree that it’s the minor not the major issues that have been corrected over time? The purity is amazing overall.

  31. Teddy, it is amazing, and I do agree. But I’m open to anyone who can give examples of any big issues that have been corrected in scripture itself (not just the understanding of it). That would be interesting.

  32. Wewlcome home Heretic – time to put on the warm fuzzy slippers, pick up an adult beverage and answer some questions!!!

  33. An adult beverage! Oh OK – If I have to. 🙂

    There are well known passages in the Bible which conflict with others, also some that conflict with known facts of history or geography.
    Wazza2

    Since God is responsible to provide man with the “perfect standard,” by which to live, He must be sure it is without error. A standard that has errors in it is not a standard at all.
    Teddy

    Teddy your point above seems to be that the bible is infallible at face value in English to a normal reader (that is you don’t have to be a scholar). Does this extend to historical fact? As Wazza points out scholars believe the Bible contains historical inaccuracies.

  34. Well I was referring to things like the different accounts of how Judas died :

    “And he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple and departed, and went out and hanged himself.” (MAT 27:5)

    “And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all of his bowels gushed out.” (ACT 1:18)

    Even when I was a new Christian I read this and it worried me. There are quite a few of these types of inconsitencies and they do not appear to me to be due to problems in translation or interpretation.

    They can of course always be explained, if one takes the view that Scripture must be infallible. But the explanations become more and more stretched.

  35. If we separate the written Word out, slowly pick away at it, we are really saying we don’t trust you God, and imagining God in our own image even more than we do already.

    MN

    Not quite understanding your point here MN. Are you saying the bible is Jesus?

  36. Issues worth raising, wazza.

    I agree, these don’t seem to be translation or interpretation issues.

    In this case, well, at least they do agree that Judas died.

  37. Is Heretic’s point, one of those moments where, he’s trying to say something but I just don’t get it?

    Teddy

    Oh well. I guess I will never be a mega-speaker (actually given the froth that comes from some pulpits would that make me a mega-foam? (Sorry, I think I need that drink – Teddy’s cross-purposes pun was much better 😦 ) )

    My point is this. The bible does not call itself the word of God so we should not either. The term extra-biblical has been thrown about a bit and using the term “word of god” to describe the bible is extra-biblical. It is a dodgy practice and leads to dodgy confused thinking. As S&P points out the practice is used to manipulate.

  38. They can of course always be explained, if one takes the view that Scripture must be infallible. But the explanations become more and more stretched.

    Wazza

    (This does not pertain to my initial post but it is interesting – thanks Wazza)

    People used to tell me the Bible is infallible – That everything in it must be literally true; dates numbers, facts, quotes. And I believed them because I was child and tended to believe what people told me.

    These days I tend to want to see a belief supported in scripture before I pay it much attention. The fact that nine out of ten believers believe someting is so is not good enough if Father does not say it is so.

    Do we have any basis for saying that scripture is infallible? Does the scripture say it is infallible? If not why do we say it is infallible. Do we believe it simply because we feel it must be?

  39. OK, let me get this off my chest. We sit in church for years listening to the pastor preach his latest revelation (usually out of context). Then we suddenly have an epiphany (after 20 years) that’s there’s something wrong – we check the scriptures, it doesn’t line up. OK again, nothing new here, you know what I’m talking about.

    So let’s have a look at Paul in Acts 17:11 where he commends the Bereans for “receiving the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things (he speaks of)were so.”

    Is this a good example of the word being used as infallible?

  40. So let’s have a look at Paul in Acts 17:11 where he commends the Bereans for “receiving the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things (he speaks of)were so.”

    Is this a good example of the word being used as infallible?

    Teddy

    This is at least a really good example of what to do. Thanks for this Teddy. The picture this verse gives is:
    1. They had the scriptures
    2. They heard the word
    3. They received the word with eagerness
    4. They looked in the scriptures for confirmation of the word on an ongoing basis (daily).

    Just in case there is any misunderstanding here the “word” is not the same as the “scriptures” here. The word is “received” and the scriptures are “searched” – they are different.

    But to answer the question I don’t think this verse addresses the issue about the infallibility of scripture. It does address this one RP raised earlier

    2 Tim 3:16
    “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

    The passage from Acts is an example of teaching (about Jesus) and training in righteousness.

    I think we all agree that the Bible is scripture and so is inspired (God-breathed) and profitable for the purposes in 2Tim. But is it perfect? Is it without error as we read it now. Does it contain no historical or geographical errors as Wazza put it. Or zooological (if that is not the way it is spelled it should be) errors? The Bible says Jonah was swallowed by a fish. Does this mean he cannot have been swallowed by a whale?

    So, does the bible claim to achieve perfection or are we claiming this on its behalf because we think it should. I don’t think the bible claims perfection of itself.

    Clearly Father wrote the Bible (ghost-wrote it?). And he did not attribute perfection for it. If we then attribute perfection to it where Father declined to do so, we must be doing it for our own purposes and not for his.

    I am sure he has his reasons. Lets not go further than Father went himself.

  41. I find it interesting that there is no end to the searching of Scriptures. Even though there is nothing new under the sun, throughout history our understanding of them has improved. (References have previously been made of Luther and Spurgeo).

    In western society we are used to listening to one person preach from the pulpit. But I believe God designed Scripture to be discuss and chewed over like you all are doing. The process reveals more about Him.

    The Jewish teachers used to add onto one anothers teaching. They used the phrase “you have heard it said (by so an so of repute) but I tell you…” Jesus did the same – can’t add to what He says obviously.

    But the debate of Scripture prevents one person getting carried away by owning a specific revelation (usually how cults start).

    Such words have to be God inspired and cause us to know Him better, I think Scripture is perfect at doing that but not perfect of itself.

  42. Just reread the thread, and an aside for Teddy:

    BTW Teddy, I think I know the guy who did the flip flops (cartwheels); he was diagnosed later with schizophrenia, and had treatment. I think he got through it OK in the end. He was a sincere Christian who loved God well before his illness appeared. I think that he later would have acknowledged that his desires in that area weren’t from God, despite how he felt at the time. I can tell you, God was looking after him – the poor guy might have almost accidentally died one day, but the right person was there to stop him. Isn’t it good that God looks after us and loves us even when we completely misunderstand Him for a time?

  43. Great thread! I don’t look at the net for a few days and what happens? Heretic starts a great thread!

    What is the Bible?

    It is a collection of Books. Each book had a historic, real-life situation that it either reflected, or spoke to.

    Genesis is the creation account, not just of life, but the Hebrew people also. This is known to be written by Moses during the wandering in the Wilderness. Some scholars have suggested that this has been added to by others citing differences in style and so on. I disagree with such analysis, but am not a Hebrew language scholar. The rest of the Torah … Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are also written by Moses although the part where he leaves just before the Hebrews enter the promised land couldn’t have been written by him … so I have no problem with considering another hand finishing the manuscripts off or correcting some faded sentences and so on. Any differences can be explained by an editor coming along and tidying up the manuscripts a little.

    Joshua continues the narrative, and he would certainly have been involved in ensuring that no exaggerations found their way into the Torah.

    In the Old Testament we find historical narrative, prophecy, apocalyptic books (Ezekiel, Daniel), Story (Job … well known ‘person’ in the middle east), Wisdom Literature (Proverbs), Songs (Psalms … Song of Solomon).

    Each of these books had a protagonist who usually spoke with the Authority of God into a real-life situation. As such, we will never understand what God had to say to the people in the life situation, and we will never draw the lesson for ourselves.

    In the New testament we mostly have letters from an Apostle to a church member (e.g. Philemon) or to individual congregations (e.g. Corinthians), or to the regional church (e.g. Ephesians – sent to the collection of churches in Asia Minor i.e. Laodicea, Smyrna, Ephesus, etc) We also have the Gospels, Acts and Revelation.

    These were not lofty theological treatises. (Romans and Ephesians maybe the exceptions) They were letters sent by an Apostle to deal with a a real-life situation. We wax lyrical about Hillsong and CCC, but if given the choice, we would prefer them to the Corinthian church or to the church in Galatia. No question in my mind. Paul was so scathing in his comments … when I read those letters, I read the thoughts and feelings of a real man. Not so different to me. But a man with a deeper sense of God, a closer understanding of reality and the deepest appreciation of the spiritual.

    But Paul commended the searching of the scriptures. These days, since we have put chapter and verse number in, we don’t search the scriptures … we simply look them up.

    Why do we read the Bible?
    We read the New Testament to find out about Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We need the new testament also to check if any new doctrine comes in is of God. Why? Because we believe that the whole Bible is written by people under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (The Torah aside, no one was writing scripture. They were writing letters or prophecies and so on. But they didn’t know they were writing scripture!)
    Since the Bible is the words of the Holy Spirit (which, when understood in it’s original context is not self-contradictory!) we can assess what people claim is from the Holy Spirit in the light of the Bible. We can then test the spirits with an unchanging and unbending objective written work.

    Have you noticed that with every heretical movement, the very first thing that is attempted is to either add or take away from the Bible. Then they try to undermine the authority of the Bible. (I am not pointing any fingers here … we are all seekers of objective, not subjective truth after all.)

    When we say the Bible is Infallible, we forget that we are fallible and our interpretations of it very often fall short of perfection. The only authority we have for claiming that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God come not from our Spiritual Experiences. They come from our spiritual experience being confirmed by God’s Written Word. (which points to the Living Word, the LOGOS, Jesus who is God, pointing to the Father.)

    The Bible (breathed by the Holy Spirit through human hands) points to Jesus and to the Father. Jesus words on earth point to the Father. The Father chose us to belong to Him, through the blood of Jesus.

    The bottom line is … once we start to think that the Bible itself is fallible … it produces subjective interpretations and we can make the Bible say anything we want it to at the best of times.

    Regarding contradictions:
    Judas went out and hanged himself.
    Or
    He fell down and his body broke apart etc.

    Which is true? Well they can both be true.
    When a person is hung, if the drop is too short, they slowly choke to death. If it’s too long the rope decapitates the person. If it’s just right, it merely snaps the neck and kills instantly.

    So, you are Judas, you want to hang yourself. You take a very long rope and put it round your neck and jump off a cliff. When it gets taught … it’ll snap your head clean off. The body will shatter upon the rocks. So an observer at the top of the cliff will see Judas hang himself, while an observer at the bottom will see the body brake itself on the rocks.

    Neither contradicts the other. Both are true.

    The same can be said for all other seeming contradictions.

    Shalom

  44. OK – here’s what I believe.

    I believe that the Bible is infallible, and I believe it contains some discrepancies.

    I don’t think there is a problem.

    🙂

  45. “Such words have to be God inspired and cause us to know Him better, I think Scripture is perfect at doing that but not perfect of itself.”
    – Muppet

    Thanks Muppet your explanation works for me.

    Wazza said:

    I’m not sure what “God-breathed” means when referring to the inspiration of the Scriptures.

    Does it mean something like dictated, or does it mean the writers heard from God but could have introduced some errors?

    There are well known passages in the Bible which conflict with others, also some that conflict with known facts of history or geography. Not major conflicts, but certainly show that the books are not perfect.

    I guess it depends what we mean by “perfect”.

    Scripture tends to be written when Father inspires a person to write something down for other people. The inspiration is God-breathed at that point and must be true from the perspective of the writer who received the inspiration.

    When he writes down the message the writer uses words that mean something to the people that will receive the message. He uses their language (usually), uses the phrases they use as they would understand them, uses allusions and metaphors that they use to understand their world.

    Is the scripture perfect for that particular person writing to the intended recipients. I think we all agree it is.

    Does this mean we can translate the message into English and have that message apply perfectly to us the way we use English and the allusions and metaphors we use and the way we see the world. Not directly no.

    Can we expect to use the message for a purpose other than that for which it was written. Not usually no.

    We have to understand what the message meant to the person who wrote the message. We have to understand how they saw the world because their words only make sense in that context. Only then can we start to see how the message might apply to us now.

    Can we assume the translator will translate perfectly? Of course not. Can we assume the text the translator translated is identical to the one the writer wrote? Of course not.

    Can we assume that Father is able to explain his meaning to us personally anyway? Of course. Jesus says “my lambs know my voice and they follow me” and John says “the anointing teaches us all things”.

  46. Teddy – I certainly do remember them. I didn’t know them as friends (I was not a peer of theirs), but remember Greg as a pastor/preacher.

  47. Ta very muchly MN!

    Heretic wrote: “Can we assume the translator will translate perfectly? Of course not. Can we assume the text the translator translated is identical to the one the writer wrote? Of course not.”

    Hang on a minute. Teams of people translating is better than one person translating … granted.

    Inaccuracies can enter the text through scribes over the centuries.

    The New Testament we can be very sure is as accurate as the day it was written. Why? We can construct almost the entire new testament from quotes contained in the letters of the Early Church fathers.

    The Old Testament is another thing entirely. However, when they found a complete copy of Isaiah dating back to 100 AD amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, it meant the translators of (I think) the Good News Bible had to stop and grab that version from Qumran. They found they only needed to change a few words from the largest book in the Old Testament (is it the largest? Correct me if I am wrong in that.) and those changes were not important theologically or doctrinally in any way.

    So what have I shown? We can have a great degree of confidence that while there may be a few words here and there that are not the same words written down thousands of years ago, the content and doctrine contained in the Bible is as put down by the original authors.

    We can therefore find out who Jesus is, how the Holy Spirit is now our Paraclete, our standby, our companion and friend. We can also find out the character of the Living God, the Great “I Am”.

    Heretic is right but is making too much of the point. However, even those of us who hold the Bible to be binding on believers don’t hold it in the same High Regard as Muslims hold the Koran.

    When was the last time you saw a Muslim put a Koran on the floor? Or to save the coffee table, and in lieu of a table mat, put a hot cup of coffee on their Koran during Koran study?

    yet I put a cup of coffee on top of my Bible in Bible study so I don’t damage the coffee table.

    So the Bible is not a holy relic. We must treat it correctly. We are not too far away from each other in this chit-chat really. We all know whom we love because the Bible tells us who He is!

    end of story.

    Shalom

  48. Bull: “When we say the Bible is Infallible, we forget that we are fallible and our interpretations of it very often fall short of perfection.”

    Great point, Bull!

    RP: “I believe that the Bible is infallible, and I believe it contains some discrepancies.”

    I would say say that God told people to write things that, if anyone examined them, would prove that if all the writings of God were collected together, would be infallible.

    I would then suggest that sense man assembled certain books and documents to make the bible, that occasionally, some things may not have been of God.

    If you talk to a scholar about the book of Isaiah, it suggested that his disciples would have assembled his writings together. Some scholars believe that there was a second ‘Isaiah’ that prophesied in the midst of the book.

    I have trouble accepting the book of James as scripture even though it is one of my favourite books in the bible. I love making faith practical and I like his strong statements against the rich. >:)

    So if disciples determine what scripture goes ‘in’ to a book, and if people in the early church choose what goes ‘in’ to the bible, we should examine if some things in the bible line up with the character of God. As long as relationship with God comes first before we approach scriptures he’ll help us understand His practical wisdom and who He is as a person.

  49. I think we basically agree on this subject where it matters.

    The initial question was to do with the misapplication of the phrase ‘Word of God’ – it wasn’t trying to say that scripture was unimportant in any way.

    There seems to be a fear that if we maintain a view that Jesus is the Word, and therefore try not to name the Bible ‘the Word of God’ in the same sense, that we somehow take an extreme stance and want to undermine the authority of scripture, in order to have our way in an imaginary relationship with no scriptural guidance. I don’t think anyone here is wanting to head in that direction!

    But we’ve really covered a lot of ground here, stating the obvious need for both, while we have a relationship with Jesus the Person, not a ‘holy relic’ in His stead (good phrase, Bull).

    My explanation of my shorter earlier comment above, is that while some might argue that any discrepancies in the Bible can be reasoned away (and possibly they can; I haven’t tried), to me this is not a worry, because scripture is perfect in what it is trying to do.

    I mean, how can man have created a book from so many books, that tells such a story from beginning to end, with so many authors from different eras? How can we have Jesus taking the Old Testament Law, and taking us through it and beyond it, then illuminating the entire thing in his two pivotal commandments to love God and to love one another as ourselves? And showing this in parables, in his actions, and even in actions that are parables as well? This consistency, and climax, is too perfect to be man made. It is awesome.

    In a sense, any discrepancies underline this perfection, because here again, we have God using imperfect men, with their limitations, to tell the perfect story and reveal His ultimate plan and grace.

  50. unfortunately, S&P, we can make too much of that and then say “hey, I don’t like the God of Wrath and Judgment … I want the kindly Father of Jesus.”

    Hello Marcionite Heresy.

    Marcion was the first to take a pair of scissors to the Bible and he cut out the Old Testament. He then realised he had to cut our bits of the new testament as well.

    We cannot take the bits we like and leave out the rest … that is not how we are to understand God, it is not the Full Gospel, it is not the full character and mind of God … and we are to present the full character of God to the world, otherwise we are no different to the rest of humanity … who have itching ears, and are blown about by every wind of doctrine.

  51. When there is something that doesn’t seem to ‘fit’, then I think we have a wonderful opportunity to learn something new. It’s an invitation to examine the subject matter more thoroughly and seek further understanding.

    We don’t want to leave any bits out; but we can certainly hear alarm bells and ask God about any bits that disturb us. It’s a great way to learn, albeit challenging. The apparent contradictions about the character of God for example may mean that we don’t understand the character of God, or if examined, might reveal something deeper about the character of God.

  52. Bull said

    The bottom line is … once we start to think that the Bible itself is fallible … it produces subjective interpretations and we can make the Bible say anything we want it to at the best of times

    It depends what one means by “fallible” and also what one means by “perfect”. Teddy believes it is our perfect standard. Teddy I presume you mean we measure ourselves using the Bible.

    Fallible means “able to fail”. Can the Bible fail me? Can it fail to apply to my situation. Can it fail to provide me information I need. Can it fail to provide me a standard in such-and-such situation. Is it “perfect” for every situation and every need – to tell me right from wrong.

    This is my understanding of what Teddy is saying. Have I got this right Teddy? Is this what you mean by “perfect standard”.

    I think the answer to these questions is an emphatic “no”. I think people who answer “yes” to these questions are deifying the book.

    The bible only talks about a limited number of situations. If you try to expand these limited examples to real-life you will probably get it wrong. You will get it wrong because you will end up with a new written law. The law written on paper.

    Jesus is the standard and he is in us. He is the one that does not fail. We have the law written on our hearts. Jesus died so that this could be true. Are we then to say that the written law of the Bible is better that the law written on our hearts because the one on our hearts is subjective? Surely not. We had the written law before in the old testament and Jesus died so we could have him in our hearts instead. How much better must that be?

    Are we really saying that Jesus in us is fallible (subjective) so we use the Bible which is not fallible.

    We all get lots of good stuff out of the Bible. But it is not us getting stuff out of it at all. The Bible teaches us nothing. Holy Spirit teaches us everything.

    Surely everyone has has the experience where you have read the same passage year after year after year getting the same meaning. Then you read a book, or have a conversation with someone or hear a piece of music and you read the scripture again. Then some revelation of that passage hits you and you move to a new level of understanding.

    Did the bible teach you the new revelation? Of course not. If it was the bible you would have got it the first time. It was HS interacting with you to let you know what you needed to know.

    We can read the same thing over and over and not get it until Holy Spirit tells us. He is the one that is infallible, not the bible.

    Then there is the case of the “mature man” that “distinguishes between the things that differ”. In other words making the really fine judgments of what to do (wisdom). Can the bible help? No because these things are spiritually discerned. Discerned by Jesus the law in our hearts who is able to judge the fine lines we have to decide every day.

  53. Heretoc1: “Prove otherwise from the scriptures if you can.”

    Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.

    There ya go Heretic!

    From what I said above, I pulled out a book called ‘Prophets’ by Robert Crotty.

    R.A.Anderson, professor of Old Testament studies had to say this about the canonising of OT scriptures:

    “What we readily recognise as prophetic books make up the other part of section two. These books are: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial and the so-called Twelve Minor Prophets. You will notice immediately that the Book of Daniel is not included among the prophetic literature in the Hebrew canon as it is in the bibles that we are used to reading. The reason for this is two-fold. First of all, there came a time, probably about the year 200BC when it was virtually decided that the writing of prophetic sayings had come to an end. With the ‘canonising’ of the Torah the role of the traditional prophet came to an end.

    What developed in post-exilic times was the interpretation and teaching of the Torah along with another form of proclamation known as apocalyptic. This is a descendant of biblical prophecy but it is also a departure from it. The second reason why Daniel did not find inclusion in the prophetic section of the canon is that, in its final form, it is the latest book in the Old Testament canon and was produced in its extant form several decades after200BC. In style and content it is apocalyptic rather than prophetic.”

    What other written literature of God wasn’t canonised?

    In pg 49, Crotty says:

    “Chapters 13-23 … Certainly not all these oracles were delivered by the historical Isaiah. As time went on the collection must have been expanded by many hands. Many of the references in the oracles can only be guessed at by us today.

    He wrote somwhere else how prophets had followers and disciples who actually assembled the prophets written work or the prophets scribes’ work. Can’t find that though…

  54. RP says people might equate what I am saying with the practice certain pastors have of saying “HS told me this so this applies to you” when “this” has nothing to do with scripture.

    I certainly don’t think the practice above is a valid one. Teachers should certainly be teaching from the scripture as that is one of its purposes. If they get it wrong then the scripture can be used for reproof (faint chance of that in my experience).

  55. I updated my post above.
    And I’ll be fasting for Signposts02 for a week.

    So keep pumping out good articles peoples and someone do a dukebox! 😛

    S&P

  56. Regarding Isaiah,

    it has to be true that close associates put the ‘finishing touches’ to some of the prophetic books … especially as they were usually executed for speaking God’s truth.

  57. Doesn’t the Catholic Bible have a couple of extra books in it? If so, is that the perfect Word of God?

  58. So the Bible is God-inspired, but when spoken and acted on in faith it is upheld and proven to be truth by all the creative life of the “Word of God” – Jesus?

  59. Can you imagine the horror that must have been felt within the RC church when the Protestants removed the Apocrypha? (I think Apocrypha means ‘of doubtful origin’, or some equivalent expression.) Imagine how we would feel if someone got rid of Paul’s letters for example.

    It’s worth noting that we continue to receive new translations of the original texts every few years. That in itself is evidence that the translations we use should be compared, and we need to seek understanding rather than just assume that we ‘get it’ immediately.

    Surely that the book we hold in our hand is not in a perfect form, even if the inspiration of the original words was perfect. If it was in a perfect form, we’d not have a need for the continual runs of new translations.

  60. “Doesn’t the Catholic Bible have a couple of extra books in it? If so, is that the perfect Word of God?”

    Yeah. I’ve read them and the book of Jasher and Enoch.
    I was hugely inspired by the last two books.

    Some of the catholic books, Apocrypha, are weird though.

  61. God can use those books, I believe, to speak to his people. The same way a movie can speak into our lives or the same way our non-Christian friends can too.

    I think if the word is living, He can use anything to speak to His people: Apocrypha; neighbours; donkeys; backgammon; crabs; pomegranites; seagulls; stars; dandelions; soccer… You name it.

    We need to remember that in the last 2000 years, many people couldn’t read. So why would God only reveal himself to those who people who can read? That wouldn’t be very Godly and be showing very unfair favouritism. He lives beyond the written.

  62. If you are reading the written ‘word’ and it tells you to act in a way contrary to the example set by the living ‘word’ the you are misreading it, misusing it or having it misquoted to you.

    You can’t be mistaken if you decide to love your neighbour as yourself. You can be mistaken if you decide to wave a placard declaring “God Hates Fags”
    (although, I would accept a placard declaring “God Hates Figs”.)

  63. “If you are reading the written ‘word’ and it tells you to act in a way contrary to the example set by the living ‘word’ the you are misreading it, misusing it or having it misquoted to you.”

    I think that’s a really important point, adhd.

  64. Although, in Britain a Fag is a cigarette. So in that sense, you might agree that “God hates Cigarettes” …

  65. Emergent Church theology … does the emergent church undermine the authority of Scripture and add to or take away from scripture?

  66. I’m not sure a new thread is needed, but obviously others will decide. Probably worth a look at the emergent church in general and what does it all mean – I don’t know much about other than what I read on here.

    But I read through some of the comments at the link you referred us to and found this:

    “…they [Bell, emergent teachers] say we need to balance everything with tradition, reason, experience, and scripture. However, they have done just that which is a fatal flaw – equated the other three on the same level as scripture.”

    Isn’t that what we’ve just been discussing? That balance?

    If the emergent church is not teaching the depravity of man, original sin, repentance etc there are major problems. But on the other hand I’ve listened to a bit of Rob Bell and I find him quite good. Is the saviour of the world?……no

    But…in terms of the Scripture argument…. I like to think that I have a very high view of Scripture but take the point that it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us.

    I wouldn’t dream of trying to make sense of how to be a Christian without the Bible, but I can’t de-couple my life, history etc and make sense of it either.

  67. Well ….

    ok, we have historically had a pop at the prosperity people, the WOF people and the NAR people.

    The emergent church people have not been looked at … the original Signposts was, I guess wanting to be a a part of the emergent movement. I may be reading too much into that.

    But to have integrity, we need to hold all teachers to the same standards.

    If it is true that Rob Bell et al, downgrade the Bible and say that the Bible is not infallible and therefore we can (in an unmentioned sense) choose the bits we like and discard the rest … it means that the Emergent Church is nothing more and nothing less than gnosticism. It may not have discarded notions about the deity of Jesus, yet, but it would not be too hard to separate Jesus and Christ … then we are in the same realm as the NAR who believe we will manifest the Christ on earth in the new God-men (mormonism here as well?)

    These are all independent, humanly speaking. They are not, as far as I know, in contact with one another. However, even I, in just a few minutes, can join the dots and see a spiritual linking of all these groups, all of whom at best downplay the Bible, and at worst add to it.

    The Church is at the edge of the abyss. We are called to hold out for the faith, even if we become the last of the hold-outs.

    Time for a nice hot chocolate … which must annoy McLaren during ramadan. (Wet summer in Wales and it’s still daytime!) MMmmmm … Chocolate.

  68. Bull: “pulling one through the eye of a needle is gonna hurt … the camel. Emergent church post: Need a new thread for this.”

    Was this meant to be a pun? I laughed when you said that Bull!

    And adhd Librarian, please watch your attitude towards God in relation to Figs. I had to censor your comment due to all the fig lovers out there… lurking somewhere. Same goes for cigarettes.
    True. Every cigarette is doing us damage, but we have no right to damage them due to our religious prejudices.

  69. I thought there was a very wide array of different things grouped under the heading ’emergent church’. Makes it hard to generalise about it.

    Some people might even call this blog a form of emergent church.

    So maybe what we need before anything is a post asking what on earth it is??

    As for the history of this blog – we are not the original signposts and the people who did that one have no involvement with us, so there is no conspiracy theory to be found (not by me, anyway).

  70. I would prefer the title “emerging” – the emergent church is always asking that age-old question “Did God really say that?” And we know where that originated.

  71. Well, there you have my confusion – a post where everyone could explain to me the difference between emergent and emerging would be good.

    There’s always something new emerging.

  72. That did help, Teddy.

    So there is a definite distinction between the terms ’emergent’ and ’emerging’; things like this blog would as you say, have to be ’emerging’, not ’emergent’.

    OK, now I think I know how it can go.

    So, I’d like to start by looking at typical emergent theology, to educate myself in what actually distinguishes that movement from other movements.

    Will put something up.

  73. We should remember that the majority of those in ancient israel couldn’t read or write, so the spoken word was what they relied on more than the written.

    If the word ‘word’ is associated with the spoken word, it places huge emphasis on the importance of words to be honest, active, practical, accountable, living, life-changing, wisdom and knowledge-filled and true testimony.

    While Christ is the word, their oral culture truly would have seen Christ fulfill these attributes of the spoken word. The spoken word should ‘do’, build, engage, teach, interact, live, grow, comfort, heal, restore, advise, guide, love, etc.

    It’s only in the last century that we’ve associated the word ‘word’ to the written.

  74. Nice points S&P.

    If our words express Christ, then they become an expression of the living Word. It’s pretty important that we be careful and seek to have a heart abiding in Christ.

    Matthew 12:33-37
    “33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

  75. Thank goodness for His grace! Otherwise I’m sure I’d have problems here at times. Who among us hasn’t been careless?

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