Let me begin my opinions by saying I am no expert on the history or the development of the Bible to the point that we know it today. I hope to keep this topic reined in to general observations that I am making and nothing incredibly in depth beyond my scope of knowledge. That being said, allow me to repeat my question… what is the Bible to you?
I grew up in what most would consider a “Christian” environment, one that taught me the Bible was the written word of God, and the Scriptures were infallible and consistent, having no mistruth or error amongst them. I would say that I still hold to this belief today, in the matter that I have yet to believe there are any errors among the passages in Scripture when I’ve looked at the document and message as a whole. However, is the Bible the only word of God available to us today? I would submit that it is not.
Now, such a comment can incite a riot in some religious circles, I understand, but let me make my point. I would carefully observe that our Bible is to the disciple of Christ as a comprehensive history book is to a student. While a cornerstone and thorough knowledge of God can be gained through study of the Bible, there is much more to be revealed on a personal level in regards to many specific issues the Bible merely touches upon. The same could be said about the example of the history book – though one book could summarize, say, American history, it may only briefly expound upon any one particular item. Take for example, the pandemic flu of 1918. Though I took history core classes all through high school, it was not until college age that I ever heard of the pandemic flu that swept through the United States almost 100 years ago. I was able to find much more detail and information on the subject through books and articles dedicated to the subject, but aside from them, I would only have a tidbit of knowledge that the event ever happened, let alone the specifics of the entire ordeal.
Thus, I would argue that the Bible is much the same. There are so many other books, articles, and messages out there pertaining to our life in Christ, some very detailed and probing on particular issues. Many believers have expressed their concerns with such a proposition, and when I hear them out, I ask the same question: Do we not have the Spirit of God dwelling within us? The Bible itself teaches this very thing, that believers in Christ all share the same Holy Spirit which Jesus left us upon His ascension into heaven. Are we not encouraged to be mindful of the Spirit’s leading and direction when we encounter any information… including the Bible itself? What difference is there between what “Apostle” Paul has to say that God has laid on his heart, and say, a man like Tony Evans, or Billy Graham? Do not both people speak precisely what they believe that God has revealed to them, and will or will not God’s Spirit agree in our hearts that the message is consistent? Even the Bible can be taken apart, verse by verse, and create messages entirely aside from their original intent in context, and does not God’s Spirit speak out in our hearts when this happens?
Most importantly, I would ask which would be more relevant to our everyday lives, a book that is hundreds of years old, translated through various languages, and by various people, and pieced together from a variety of authors who wrote their letters to a specific people in a specific time; or God’s Spirit himself, dwelling in us and living through us for every situation, every thought, and every conversation? Yes, we do have to discern what is God’s Spirit speaking to us, and what is our own human intuitions. Yes, I believe the letters contained in the Bible were inspired by God on the hearts of the men that wrote them, but another topic altogether could be the question of if all those letters were meant to be one group document. I’m not saying that the Bible is untruthful, and in fact, I believe God’s Spirit will even make that written word alive to us as we learn and grow and mature in our faith.
But I would submit that most believers should turn their idea of the Bible on its head. Instead of stressing that daily “devotions” or readings from the Bible are of importance, and wait for God’s Spirit to bring some message forth each day, why not listen instead for what God through His Spirit lays upon your heart in daily situations, and be trained to hear what that voice has to say? What if we keep to a general knowledge of the Bible, and let the Holy Spirit direct us back to its pages when specific weight on an issue is placed on our hearts? Would we then be a truly “spiritual” people, and not just a people with Bible knowledge?