In his book, Necessary Heresies, Peter Cameron writes the following:
If only we can bring ourselves to see the New Testament as a collection of human responses to God in Christ, on the same level in principle as our own potential response, only then will we be free to make our own response, uncontrolled by the expectations and presuppositions which are forced on us by tradition. —Peter Cameron – Necessary Heresies
Certainly sounds heretical to me…
But what exactly do we lose by adopting such a view? We lose the almost heretical worship of the printed Bible that in the early 20th century the Fundamentalists fostered. In the name of “restoring biblical Truth” and “protecting Christianity”, they managed to persuade generations to shift their focus from the Living Christ to the printed page.
Let’s simplify Cameron’s thought here: If we are to set — side-by-side — a printed Bible and the Person of Jesus Christ Himself, which would you pay more attention to?
Answer the question — don’t evade it. This is precisely the test Jesus set before the Pharisees when He challenged (mocked?) them for their intense study of the written Scriptures. He said that they studied the Scriptures diligently because they believed that in them they found life. But, in fact, Life stood before them in the Person of Jesus, their Messiah.
Choose… the printed Bible, or the Living Word.
Many churches and denominations avoid the same decision that Jesus presented to the Pharisees by simply stating: “Oh, it’s not the same; they had Jesus right in front of them but, for us, Jesus has Ascended and no longer stands in front of us. So there’s no choice — we have only the Word.”
But if these modern day Pharisees truly accepted what is in the printed Word, they’d understand that the Choice is still in front of us… Not that Jesus Himself stands in front of us. No, He doesn’t stand in front of us… Today, by the Spirit, He lives in us.
But biblicists disagree, some insisting that Jesus may be “within” us, but not in such a way that He can define church doctrine or establish “accurate theological positions”.
But my question is this: If Jesus wanted to clearly “define church doctrine”, is it impossible for Him to do so? He could, for example, speak in an audible voice to the theological Doctors of the Church and dictate doctrinal definitions till the cows come in. But He doesn’t.
Maybe He doesn’t because that’s not the purpose of the Word of God.
The Pharisees imagined that the “purpose” of the Scriptures was to define the Laws by which all men were supposed to live (but only they did successfully.)
They were wrong. The “purpose” of the Scriptures was to bring them to Christ Who stood before them. The Scriptures didn’t fail — they failed when they used the Scriptures to affirm their hypocritical righteousness.
Do modern teachers, theologians, preachers and such understand that the “purpose” of today’s Bible is the same: it’s designed to bring them to Jesus Christ Who dwells within them? But their focus is on using the Bible as a tool to demonstrate their righteousness by their accuracy in church doctrines. Why is it so important for leaders and teachers in churches to spit and spite and quarrel and fight, demanding that only “they” have understood God and the Bible accurately?
It’s because the definition of “righteousness” has become: he is righteous who most accurately understands the Bible.
But what chaos would reign if the Bible was no longer seen as ultimate Truth?If it were held to be merely a “tool” by which the Living Christ was revealed to many? What horrors would ensue?
Uh, that was a question, everybody. What “chaos” would “reign”?
Let’s see. Instead of quarreling over the Bible, spiritual leaders in the Body of Christ would make use of the Bible to point people to the Living Lord. If someone said, “I just won’t ever be able to buy into the whole Creation scene in the beginning of that book,” a spiritually mature leader would simply say, “h, that doesn’t matter — you see, no one’s asking you to believe the Bible, but to believe in The One to Whom the Bible points. Believe or disbelieve in Creation or End Times or predestination or free-will — but at all costs believe in the Person of Jesus Who love you today and longs for you to know Him experientially.
Even before I’m done writing this blog, some people will be crying out, “But if the Bible is ‘on the same level in principle as our own potential response’, then anyone could start adding to the Bible whatever they want!”
To which I ask, “Aren’t they already doing that? Haven’t people been ‘adding’ to the Bible for centuries?” Because, you see, anyone who wants can take their word processor (Word processor?) and change anything they want to in the Bible.
But just because they make changes doesn’t mean anyone else has to accept those changes. Anyone can re-write the Bible however they want (and many do), but if the Living Word is alive within, if the Anointing dwells within, then people will be kept from seducing teachings by the Indwelling Word.
If you have a problem with that, go to 1 John 2 and see that that’s exactly what John taught his “little children”, that they had “no need for man to teach them” because the indwelling Spirit of God kept them safe from spiritually seducing lies.
Actually, since the Bible does “point” to the Living Word, it’s invaluable to read, and to read carefully, accurately. But not if one’s “reading” becomes a tool of deception and self-righteousness. It’s valuable only because “reading” sharpens and clarifies, strengthens and purifies our Relationship with Christ Who is living within.
So let people “add” to the printed Scriptures all they want; let people add to their devotional readings other books and sermons and encouraging words. Those in whom Christ dwells will not be seduced — unless they’ve been “deafened” by church leaders to listen to man and not the Spirit.
Set the printed Bible free from the hands of those biblicists who think they “own” it and let it take its rightful place — a bit to one side of the Living Word (Who was with God, and was God, in the Beginning…) [John 1]
And instead chose to know Jesus — Who is alive and well in in the hearts of so many, today.