Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Bible and the Word of God

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." -- The Lord Jesus

"The fish trap exists because of the fish.  Once you've gotten the fish you can forget the trap.  The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you've gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare.  Words exist because they capture meaning.  Once you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.  Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?" -- Chuang Tzu

It's been quite a while since I've written, so I hope you've enjoyed the break! So here's another honest expression from my (often imperfect) thinking, but beware....

For life-long, Bible-believing Christians who have already settled into the truth that they are willing to discover and don't want to figure out where they might be able to have a belief system that is a bit "truer" than what they already know, this email is rated R - Restricted. You're not even allowed to read it without me sitting there with you. This is one of those emails that if Jesus was writing, I think he would give us one of those, "He who has an ear, let him hear" things.

I have known what I am about to tell you for a long time. And I have lived by it much longer than I've been aware of it, more unintentionally by God's grace than by wisdom, smarts, and informed decision making processes.

To say it out loud, at least in the way that I'm going to say it to you in this writing, may be the most provocative way of doing so, but I want you to bear with me (because this is a deeply emotional part of my faith) and then read the explanation that follows (because, admittedly, it's not as heretical as it sounds at first). Ready? Buckled in? it comes...

The Bible is not the Word of God.

Okay, I said it out loud. I'm out there. Now let me explain.

The Greek word for "Bible" is "graphe". The Greek word for "Word" is "logos"The "graphe" is not the "logos". When you read "Word of God" in Scripture, that is the word Logos (except twice, where it is the word "rhema"). When you read the word "Scripture" in Scripture, that's the word "graphe". And graphe and logos are NOT synonyms.

The graphe is the book full of pages that you can hold in your hand and contains a collection of writings and letters that have been assembled and then called the Bible. I have read every graphe (scripture) there is in the New Testament that mentions the graphe. The graphe, according to graphe, is here to be read, to be known, and to be believed. We are to search them, fulfill them, reason out of them, and learn from them. Graphe is inspired by God, and they cannot be broken,  

As powerful as that is, the logos is more so. The Logos is what God is trying to get into your head and heart and soul and spirit in any way he can, which includes through the graphe. The Logos, according to the graphe, is what has power! The Logos (not the Bible) was with God in the beginning, the Logos was actually God! The Logos of God is what God means by the Bible, the Logos of God is what God is, the Logos of God is what He packaged in the flesh and told an angel to tell Joseph to name it Jesus. The Logos of God, the Word of God, IS GOD!!!

I don't know about you, but my mind has been programmed: When I read "Word of God," I think "Bible." As a tragic result, I started out my Christian walk relying on the Bible for things that I can only really rely on the Word of God for.

I know it seems a bit trivial, and God knows that I wish it was. But it is not...not for me, at least. When Scripture is relied on as "the Word of God" rather than as a means of pointing us to "the Word of God", we start elevating the Bible to a place that the Bible is trying to elevate Jesus to.

Don't believe me? Then go back to the top of this email and tell me why Jesus said what he said there?

The graphe, according to graphe, is the authority on (and one of many useful tools) for one ultimate thing...pointing us to the person of Jesus (the Logos) for salvation.   

So I am diligently studying Scripture right now to see what Scripture says about Scripture. And guess what? It is an invaluable, useful, potentially life-saving, life-giving agent for life transformation and eternal salvation! But only if it is used as words recorded for us from God which will point us to the true Word of God...Jesus Christ.

Here's the clarifying question...when you go before God, do you wanna go with your Bible in your hand or Jesus holding your hand? With one you can show God how you followed His rules. With the other, you can be saved.


Fajita said...

Back with a bang!

This is the post that counteracts the epidemic of Biblolatry that so saturates millions of Christians.

People do not realize the extent to which they equate the Bible with God. I understand it and have a sad history of it myself.

I know the temptation to use the Bible as the end all be all of autority on all things. And, if God meant to use it that way, it would have been written differently and much, much longer.

Our addiction to security, power, and comfort leads us to exalt the Bible to a place that only God belongs.

Thanks for this post.

And, for the record, your life may be in danger if you only post once every 7 weeks.

thepriesthood said...

Amen, Brian.

Melanie Morales said...

Wow! Hope I can wrap my brain around this one soon so I can actually get some sleep tonight! Thanks once again for provoking some serious thought on such a serious subject!

Anonymous said...

Through scripture we have chained others, yet through the word we have freedom. How can the "Word of God" expressed in John 1 be scripture...scripture that did not exist until long after the beginning of God. Scripture is only a method of expressing the Word.

Mr. Stumpy

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention at all the Greek words Biblios, Biblion (Biblia - Plural)or the Hebrew words cepher or (fem.) ciphrah. They are very important to the discussion st hand.

Brian Mashburn said...

Hey Anonymous:
I certainly don't want to leave those (or any) words out if they can contribute in any way to the conversation...and while I'm sure they can, those words are basically used in the Bible for anything at all that is a book...not exclusively for Scripture. I'd love an example of a text or two that use those words that would have a bearing on this conversation. I'm always trying to change how I think, you know. Feel free to leave your name, too, if you want to dialogue personally.

Anonymous said...

I've been chewing on this topic for a couple of weeks--nice to read your blog and think maybe I'm not that insane after all (at least not insane , alone). I was thinking that the graphe/logos thing is sort of like a woman whose hubby is in Iraq. She hasn't heard from him in a month because of his delicate location and duties. She needs a word. Re-reading old letters he sent to his mom from summer camp a million years ain't gonna cut it. In fact, reading them might just get depressing. But if he were to send an e-mail (or even better,call--or show up on the doorstep for a pesronal leave--woohoo!) With regards to our wonderful Lord--the graphe is fabulous, but it's not satisfying. A logos-filed personal visit is our heart's cry.

BTW--I've heard that the "man fully alive" is a quoite by St Irenaeus. If you're into that topic, check out the book Waking the Dead by John Eldredge.

Anonymous said...

You only seem to post favorable comments - did you get a lot of negative comments concerning this subject (the Bible is not the Word of God)?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous:

I don't control the posts at all. What you see is what I got.

Every now and then, I will recieve a private email or phone call asking for clarification, or taking issue with me. I recall one such conversation with a beloved sister of mine. It was challenging and fruitful.

Do you have a comment?

Brian Mashburn