Thursday, March 23, 2017

How to Read the Bible 4 - What the Bible is NOT

This title is likely to come up over and over again, whenever I get to a point of needing to get something off my chest. OK, here we go.

The Bible is not a proof of anything.


Caps Lock and everything!

Let me put it another way: if no one had written anything Jesus said down, that wouldn't change the facts of what he said. If God did something amazing in and through Jesus, people writing about it doesn't change whether it really happened or not.

This is really important, because the Bible doesn't make things true, the Bible testifies to the truth. The Bible is not the thing that we are looking for, it's a window through which we can see the amazing work of God in the world. It's a gracious gift to us from our spiritual ancestors (and, we believe, God), it's the testimony of the founders of our faith.

Why is this important? Well, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that our current understanding is like looking at ourselves in a dirty mirror. So, we have to acknowledge firstly that what we see is not a perfect image. Then, we have to make sure that we are not distracted by the dirt and rust of the mirror, but see through it, at the image which is the real object of our attention. And finally, what we see is a reflection, not the real thing. It can help us know more about that real thing, but it's still an image.

In the same way we are looking through the window that is the Bible. We aren't seeing everything as clearly as we'd like, we're getting distracted by the crud on the window pane. What we can see isn't the whole picture, but the testimony of the church over 2,000 years is that what we can see is enough to give us an outline of the shape of God.

Jesus-shaped. God is Jesus-shaped.

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