How important is the Bible to Christianity?
This past week, in various ways I was asked the question, “How important is the Bible to Christianity? If the Bible is lost, how much of Christianity is lost? If the Bible is untrue or found to be myth and fable, does it impact Christianity?”
I would like to dedicate the next few weeks to discussing various aspects of this question. Simply answered, the importance of the Bible cannot be overstated. After dedicating almost two decades of my life to studying the Bible, I do not believe that the Bible is at risk of being undermined. I have yet to read a credible threat to the Bible’s truthfulness, and the vast majority of the comments that people levy against the Bible are dismissed with even a basic understanding of the entirety of scripture.
Comments about Old Testament laws are easily explained when you understanding the unfolding nature of the covenants. Issues of literary nuance become clear when you understand Hebrew genres. I don’t consider supernatural accounts as problematic because I believe that the supernatural is possible.
All of that being said, if something were to prove the Bible false, I think Christianity would be undone. I have no interest in following Jesus as a good moral teacher, a nice guy, or a philanthropist. If Jesus is not God in the flesh, then Christianity is a joke and I am wasting my life (and your time reading this column). If what we read about Jesus in the Bible isn’t true, why read it at all?
So, what do I actually believe about the Bible?
“God has graciously disclosed his existence and power in the created order, and has supremely revealed himself to fallen human beings in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by his Spirit has graciously disclosed himself in human words: we believe that God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both record and means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. We confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and obey the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.”
So how important is the Bible to Christianity? Quite!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 describes it this way, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Paul, in his letter to his disciple Timothy, explains that all of the Bible, the Scriptures, are inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. The same way that God breathed life into humanity, his Spirit breathes spiritual life into the words that were written. There is something quite supernatural, not just in the recorded stories of the Bible, but in the Bible itself! We will look at this next week as we talk about the miracle that is the Bible itself (its manuscript evidence, its historicity, its cohesiveness, etc).
In the verses above, Paul says that the Bible is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training. What does this mean? It means that God has given us this book to reveal to us himself. The Bible is profitable as it teaches us what we need to do, shows us where we may have gotten off track, acts as a road map to get back on track, and equips us with what we need to know as we strive to continue marching forward in the right direction. If we walk in its truth, we will be equipped for every good work.
The Bible is a spiritual book concerned with spiritual things. It may comment on scientific things, but it is not a science book. It may comment on history, but it is not written as a history book. It has poetry within it, but it is not simply a collection of poems and sayings. The Bible is a book about God’s redemptive work to save the world and to bring glory to himself, and without the Bible, Christianity is a hoax.
Next week we will look at why I believe that the Bible can be trusted.
Do you have a specific problem with the Bible that you would like to see answered or discussed? Let me know!