Here’s the post that started our conversation, “Is the Bible Trustworthy?”
So, I wrote a response to Gabriel’s thoughts, “Why Should I Trust The Bible?”
And looked forward with avid anticipation to Gabriel’s further thoughts, “Continuing the Conversation”
Wednesday, I began to work through the compelling arguments Gabriel brought to the table, in “Who Does God Punish?” Next came “Pick Up Sticks, Pluck Off Grain,” then “Blessings and Curses,” today is the last section, .
Gabriel quoted a part of what I had originally written,
…what we know of Jesus’ presence and reality we know through our own subjective experience of Him, for some more vivid than for others. Some have seen Jesus with their physical eyes, spoken with Him, been touched, even embraced by Him, spent significant amounts of time with Him. They didn’t need a Bible for that, for Jesus was there Himself.
But, to know what Jesus said 2,000 years ago, to know what He did, to know about the cross and the resurrection, we look to the Bible. So, we ask, is this a reliable witness to those millennia-old events? Can I trust this document to be truthful?”
Which gets us to the crux of the matter. Gabriel stated, “Here I believe you have stated that the Bible is how we know Christ today,” then quoted himself from another blog, “This presupposes the Scriptures as our ultimate authority and as our primary way of knowing God, and that Christ is limited to them. Someone is only limited to a set of writings after they have died. Only after the person themselves has diedis your primary way of knowing them merely through written texts. This seems to lead us to a dead Christ and a denial of the Resurrection.”
Here’s my answer:
To know someone encompasses far more than the words they say. Words are not enough to know someone. The words written in the Bible are not enough to know God. To know God we must meet Him and spend time with Him in Person. This is a spiritual experience, that happens via God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself appears to people, physically, and in other ways, all the time, across the globe. He speaks, touches, comforts, encourages, informs, and so on. Today.
Here are ways Gabriel and I completely agree (in his words):
1. The Bible is in some sense intellectual knowledge or information based on the fact that it’s a book and not a person.
2. The kind of knowledge that saves us isn’t information but relational knowledge which only happens in and through Christ.
3. Christ may meet us in and through Scripture since He is Incarnational in nature, but even then it is not the book in and of itself. But Christ is using the book as a platform or context in which to meet us.
4. Although the Bible may be used by God it is always God in whom our trust is to be placed.
5. When we do encounter Christ in and through Scripture it is always Christ in whom we place our trust.
The vital part the Bible plays is to provide an accurate record of what Jesus said and did two thousand years ago, and what God said and did before that. The Bible also records various people’s engagement with God, and a historical narrative that begins at the dawn of time itself, moves through millennia of God’s activity with people, and projects forward to a time beyond today when God will bring everything to one great climax in which all evil is finally, permanently, dealt with.
I believe the Bible provides that consistent, cohesive, accurate record. It may have many writers, who wrote from the perspective of their culture and time. Each perspective may emphasize some aspects of God’s nature and de-emphasize or even miss other aspects. There may be passages that are difficult to understand. But I trust the record is true.
The reason people like me believe these things is because we trust God would oversee the writing of this document to remain a trustworthy witness. Otherwise, it becomes a subjective judgment call every time–do I like this passage? Does it match my view of God?
I don’t think the Bible -alone- is adequate to know Jesus. I do not believe knowing Jesus is limited to Scripture. He is visibly, palbably active in the world today and has been so since His resurrection. I do think the Bible is the only document, and therefore the final authority, that gives us the kind of information we vitally need to know about Jesus, and about God, about the Gospel, about the things of our faith. It is the measure we use against all other statements about Jesus, about God, about the Gospel, about the things of our faith.
That said, if you had to choose between having a Bible or having Jesus Himself (let’s say, deserted on some atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean), there is no comparison. Choose Jesus!