Monday, February 3, 2014

Articles of Religion Revisited-- Part 4: The Bible

Article IV—The Holy Bible
We believe the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice. Whatever is not revealed in or established by the Holy Scriptures is not to be made an article of faith nor is it to be taught as essential to salvation.

Approaching the Bible has long been a delicate and essential activity of those who are in pursuit of God. Essential in that it is impossible to fully understand God, our ourselves without the Scriptures. At the same time it is delicate because of the great harm that has been done in the name of the Bible as well as the challenge of interpretation. We might recall the times when the preacher makes fervent claims being sure to add, "According to the Bible...." For some those words bring comfort, while for others they strike fear and anxiety to the core of their being.

For many years now it seems there has been two options, we either embrace the scripture from to a near literal point, or we minimize the message shared to the point of near irrelevance. Like most things there has to be a middle ground. Some places a middle ground is supported, however it seems with the Bible the middle ground is considered only a holding point until we gravitate to the appropriate ideology. Still the middle ground appears to be the most appropriate place to reside.

Let's be clear, the Bible, Old and New Testaments, contains all truth needed for all of humanity. This includes truth needed for salvation as well as for the ways to live as people of the Kingdom of God. The struggle comes in that we, humanity, do not have the ability to mine all of the truths from the Bible accurately or completely. Without the Bible we are lost as a people, however we cannot think that we understand all the Bible has to tell us. God as found in the Scriptures is some much larger than what our minds can discern or define. The end result is we often make claims about life and how to live it that are biblical in connection and in nature that might not be the complete picture of the bible.

The Bible contains all that we need, and nothing that is needed for life and salvation is found outside of the Scriptures. Too often we add to the scriptures the ideas we wish were there so we could live as we desire. In doing this we make ourselves higher than God, and create a limit to God. An issue with doing this is that we cannot possibly limit God. Or said another way, when we allow our desires to be greater than the desires God has for us we enter into idolatry. The Bible, and the way we interpret and apply it, can easily become the very thing it teaches us to stay away from, an idol. 

In it all, the Bible is the primary source of life for those who follow after Jesus Christ. It sets the boundaries of our lives and calls us to fulfilled Kingdom living. We must be on the lifelong quest to be in relationship with the Bible in such a way that our God is constantly expanding rather than shrinking. We must also be willing to subordinate our desires and ideology so that we can find all of God as possible in the words and pages of Scripture. The key is not to be rigidly fundamental, nor is it to be dismissive of the Bible's authority. Rather there is a middle way that has us in a dynamic relationship with the Scriptures as learners above all else.

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