Reforming Our Understanding of the Bible

I think my use of the name The Bible to describe the Judeo-Christian canonical Scriptures somewhat begs the issue I intend to discuss. After all, the word bible is commonly used to describe any book containing necessary, useful and authoritative information on a given subject. And that is what the Bible does. The subject is, of course, our relationship to God.

The current American understandings of the Bible range from it being the writings of a few authors inspired by the Holy Spirit to it containing a mishmash of writings assembled, edited (redacted), copied, and rewritten for theological purposes. The first understanding has been severely criticized by the adherents of the second. The problem with the doctrine of the inspiration and inerrancy of the original writings is that these documents no longer exist. The problem with the second understanding is that it damages our trust in the reliability and authority of the Bible.

The error of the first understanding is that it assumes God could only have worked one way in creating the Bible. The second understanding thinks that if something is complex God is not in it. This thinking is the result of secular ideas that remove God from all the complexities we experience. Life is complex, history is complex, culture is complex, and nature is complex so they think that God cannot be in these things because what God is associated with has to be simple and have been done long ago.

It is better that, as the result of all the complexity we know, we expect the Bible also to be a complex object. Thus, if we trust that God is Creator of everything that exists, we should see the uncertainties and oddities surrounding the formation of the Bible as a positive thing. This is because the Bible fits into our world just like everything in the universe also fits together in complex ways, often in manners beyond our understanding. It is not necessary to know every step of how the Bible came to be as it is today to trust that this development serves God’s purpose that the Bible is as we know it.

What does the Bible do for us? The first, and most important, thing it does is authenticate the person of Jesus Christ. There have been people all over the world who have claimed to be gods. But they had nothing to validate their claims. It is different with Jesus, and far more complex. It took St. Thomas Aquinas five volumes to sum up the complexity of Christianity in his Summa Theologica. John Calvin also wrote a multivolume work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, to describe Christian beliefs. It is needless to say there are many, many other books on the subject.

A further thing the Bible does is to cut to the reality of what we are and then contrast that with what we should be. I think in reforming our understanding of the Bible we have to accept these two functions as necessary. We cannot show people, and ourselves, our need for faithful adherence to Jesus Christ until we recognize that we all have in us a spiritual defect that we cannot remedy on our own. If we are to be what we want ourselves to be, and what God would have us be, we must look to the Bible as God’s guide to the new spiritual life he will give us if we seek it. This new life comes from faith in his Son. With this new life we can learn how to relate as he would have us to the world we live in and the people we live with.

The Bible is not easy to understand and apply to our lives. Some of its instructions are for people in other times and places, some are beyond our ability to do without the gift of God’s grace, and others are for people in particular situations. That is part of its complexity. The good news is that the Bible speaks to us in our own personalities. There is biography, law, history, poetry, apocalypse, and many other genres. This means that we do not have to look at the Bible as a monolith and think that only one interpretive scheme will work. A reformed understanding of the Bible will celebrate the richness of God’s revelation and allow each of us to mine its wealth.

A reformed understanding of the Bible means that we cannot reject truths it tells us, as difficult as these may be for us.  We will acknowledge, as someone said, “God is God and we are not” and recognize that the Bible is an expression of God’s love for us. We will also accept that the Bible is a unique communication from God to humanity so what it tells us cannot be found in any other document. We will also put away any ideas we may have that the Bible condemns the world because it tells us that Jesus was sent to save the world not to condemn it (John 3:17). Thus the Bible tells us God’s mercy is available to all those who seek him. This is the great comfort we have however we may come to find God’s love.

 

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9 thoughts on “Reforming Our Understanding of the Bible

  1. FYI :
    # The word “Bible” means that , a compilations of many books.
    # “there are people around the world who claims to be gods”
    Why , what’s wrong with that ? have you not read John 10:33-35 ? “…..Jesus answered them , is it not written in your law, I SAID , ye are gods ? if He called them gods , unto whom the word of God came , and the scripture CANNOT BE BROKEN ; ”
    # “the bible is easy to understand”
    You are absolutely right there. Cause it is written in Daniel 12:10 ” NONE of the WICKED shall understand”

    I hope these verses will open your eyes !

    TO GOD BE THE GLORY

    • When I wrote “gods” I was talking about people who claim divinity without the authentication of the Bible. As for those people who have received the Word of God, perhaps they are called gods (Psalms 82:6) because they have become immortal. It is true that Scripture cannot be broken but it certainly can be, and has been, misinterpreted. I wrote that the Bible was not easy for Christians to understand and apply. Of course, it is impossible for those whose eyes have not be opened by the Holy Spirit to understand Scripture. By the way, what makes you think my eyes have not been opened and what gives you the authority to judge my understanding of the Bible.

    • Re: This is what is in my post”The Bible is not easy to understand and apply to our lives”.

      What if I will tell you that the bible is really easy to understand ? Will you believe me?
      You find it hard to understand , because it was never given to you to understand it.Because you are outside of understanding or outside of the church. The church of God.

  2. Re: “….what makes you think my eyes have not been opened ?”
    Well, its the way you explained about the topic. One will think that you are confused with so many complexities that you wrote. For example : you are worried if the bible is still true to its form and informations. To find it out , one has to go back to a nearest manuscript , like Greek manuscript and Aramaic manuscript, written by the those Christians of the first century.
    In some translations, the schoolars added some verses that is not written in the original books. Like Luke 16:9-19 which are added verses, and so many other verses in other book.

    Re: “What gives you the authority to judge my understanding of the bible?”
    Well, it is my higher understanding of the bible, which is more than yours, that gives me the authority to judge your understanding of the bible. Simple as that.

    Don’t worry, sooner or later, you will come to understand the knowledge of the truth. That is , if you opened up wide your eyes. And if you are willing.

    TO GOD BE THE GLORY

    • If the Bible is so easy to understand, why do you not understand Matthew 7:1-2 and all the other passages that tell us not to judge others? Your claim to have an actual understanding of God’s Word seems to be shaky but that’s just my observation and I may be wrong.

  3. RE: “If the bible is so easy to understand, why do you not understand Matthew 7:1-2″

    i have practically understand Matthew 7:1-2, and I know who are those persons forbidden to judge other. THEY ARE THE HYPOCRITES. But I don’t consider myself a hypocrite. When I said to you that my understanding of the bible was more superior than yours, I was telling the truth. And because of this knowledge, I was compel to correct wrong perception of what was written in the bible.
    (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
    CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS, and every high things that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and BRINGING INTO CAPTIVITY every thought to the obedience of Christ.– (2 Cor. 10:4-5 )

    Example of CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS :” You wrote It is true that Scripture cannot be broken ,BUT IT CERTAINLY CAN BE”
    Do you have the authority to BROKE DOWN the Scripture ? Jesus Christ said that ” Scriptures cannot be broken” in John 10:35, are you more knowledgeable and powerful than Jesus Christ ? How dare you !
    These are the reasons why the Bible are not easily understandable to people like you. You imagine things that you ought not.. THINGS OF IGNORANCE. You tried to change what were written already.

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