Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jesus Versus Bible

As I read various Christian blogs, I hear talk that amounts to "Jesus versus bible." Both in blog writers and blog commenters, the statements boil down to the following, "I follow Jesus, not the bible."

Quite simply, I find this absurd. I've never in my life heard anyone say that they follow the bible (as in worship it). All Christians by definition follow after Jesus Christ. He is our God, our Lord, our Prophet, our Priest, and our King. He deserves all our adoration for who he is, what he has done, and what he will continue to do.

I know of no one who worships scripture. I've been in the church for as long as I can remember. I've lived in New York, Georgia, North Carolina, and the country of India. I've also traveled a decent amount. Never have I met even one Christian who said they worship the bible.

What, then, is the bible? The bible is God's special revelation to us. It is one way we know God. Frankly, it is the only way we can know certain specifics about God. For example, how could we know about Christ's virgin birth, Christ's miracles, Christ's teachings, etc. apart from scripture? We could not. The Holy Spirit certainly guides us each moment of the day, but the Spirit is not generally in the business of imparting specific information such as I've mentioned.

Apart from the bible we would know very little of God to distinguish him from many of the other gods the world has to offer. The bible is, therefore, necessary.

That said, we've all made numerous mistakes when trying to interpret the bible. This is our fault. As we approach the scriptures, we must do so with humility. We are wise to consult other older believers when trying to understand the more difficult passages. We will make mistakes in this. However, the bible is not designed to be some sort of tricky book. Rather, it is designed for us to be able to understand it.

In reality, there is no "Jesus versus bible" debate. If you hear anyone saying there is, you can be sure that they are talking about something else. Usually it is a matter of poor biblical interpretation on someone's part. Sometimes it is simply believers not liking a specific teaching that is in the bible.

God has provided us with the bible so that we can know him. Without it we would not know much of what we need to know. This does not, of course, suggest that we bow down to the bible or worship it. On the contrary, Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of that. He is the one the bible reveals in splendor to us.

Jesus Christ and the bible fit together seamlessly.


Nick Bekker said...

Its not a case of people openly "worshipping" the Scripture and certainly not acknowledging that somehow the scriptures are to be worshipped. But what I have seen countless times is that the Bible, and more to the point, people's interpretation of it, is given precedence over Jesus. In my experience, many Christians are reading their Bibles everyday and debating the doctrines and thrashing out the meaning of passages, but they're totally missing Christ. Jesus himself pointed that out to the Pharisees in John 5:38-40 "...nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life."
Its a form of dead orthodoxy and legalism and a classic case of not seeing the wood for the trees.

Eric said...


Thanks for responding.

I've certainly heard my share of poor scriptural interpretation in my life. I imagine we all have, and are all guilty of it from time to time.

Regarding the Pharisees, however, Jesus specifically tells them that they do not "believe the one he sent." In this post I'm referring to people who do believe in Christ. I see that as a significant difference.

You wrote, "what I have seen countless times is that the Bible, and more to the point, people's interpretation of it, is given precedence over Jesus." Can you provide some examples for me? I'm not being argumentative; rather, I'd really like to hear the examples for my own sake.

I always cringe when I hear Jesus pitted against the bible (I'm not saying that you are doing this, but that I read and hear it said by others). How could we even know about him if not for the scriptures?

Nick Bekker said...

I think Eric, that many people use the Bible as a kind of a 'handbook' for all of life's questions and problems and in applying it in a literal biblicist way, they miss out on Jesus, to whom the entire Scripture is actually pointing. You only need to look the lists of popular Christian books to see that - from "Biblical Answers for Starting and Operating a Business" to "Cooking with the Bible:Recipes for Biblical Meals" and "Scripture Based Solutions for Handling Stress".

In this way, the Bible becomes the focus, it becomes the answer and it becomes the object of worship and Jesus gets sidelined. It no longer becomes a matter of living by the indwelling life of Christ, but living by the latest interpretation of some (sometimes obscure) portion of Scripture - remember 'The Prayer of Jabez"?

My view is that the Bible was not intended as a kind of an "owners manual" for life, providing answers for all of life's problems - when it is viewed this way, it tends to be held up as the final authority on all matters - which it isn't. It is rather, God's special revelation of himself - pointing us to Christ in order that we may know and come to the Father.

This is very subtle and it is hard to fault people who turn to the Bible for all things, but that denies that Christ is able to speak to us and guide us in other ways. Jesus is the answer, not the Bible - it is merely the roadmap that points us to him.

Eric said...


Thanks for clarifying. I agree with you completely; when folks start using the bible as a handbook they miss the entire point of the bible.