What is the Bible?

I have always had an appreciation for the Bible. As a kid, I was a beast at Bible Bowl, which was a thing our church would do every year, where we would study a book of the Bible and then travel to churches in our area to compete against other churches in a 100-question quiz.

I took Bible Bowl very seriously. My brother and I would practically memorize the books we were supposed to be studying so that we could claim as many awards as possible at the various competitions. We always placed in the top 5. Our team won first or second at nearly every event that we went to.

When I was in Junior High, I helped start a “Bible Club” at my school. We would meet at lunch once a week and talk about the Bible.

When I was in the youth group at my church, if anybody teaching the class made any statement about the Bible that was even slightly factually inaccurate, I was always willing to raise my hand and correct their error.

The Bible has always been important to me.

But honestly, I didn’t always know why it was important to me.

I mean, I knew what the Bible was. My whole life I’d been told that the Bible was the foundation of may faith. I’d been told that it was the Word of God. I’d been told that the Bible was a Christian’s most valuable possession. And I believed all of it.

But I didn’t know why.

Until I went to college, and I was blessed to have several professors that helped me to deconstruct my faith and reconstruct it back again, this time making me answer the question, “What is the Bible?”

And I think that’s an important question. One that I think the church needs to ask itself.

Because sometimes I feel like some Christians and churches have given the Bible a role it doesn’t deserve. Sometimes I feel like the Bible has taken on a central role in our faith when it actually only plays a supporting role. Sometimes I think we’ve spent so much time honoring the Bible that we have turned an incredible collection of ancient experiences of God into a divine object in its own right.

And I think when we do that, we make the Bible say things it doesn’t say. When we do that, we make the Bible be something it can’t be. And I think such an understanding of the Bible can actively prevent us from coming to know God better.

So over the next few weeks, I want to spend some time deconstructing our view of the Bible and trying to find a better role for it in our faith.

Because I do think that the Bible is important. I do think that the Bible is helpful. I do think that   the Christian faith is greatly enhanced by a strong knowledge of the Bible.

But I also think in order for it to truly be important and helpful, we have to understand it on its own terms, and not on the terms we’ve assigned for it.

So over the next few weeks, I want to examine the role and nature of scripture in the life of the Church. I hope that this will be a dialogue. That we can discuss the Bible together. Because I don’t think I have all the right answers. I imagine that not everything I have to say about the Bible is correct. But I hope that the conversation will be helpful in giving the Bible it’s proper position in the Church, not as an object of faith, but as a tool to bring us into better and deeper conversation with God.

If you have any input or questions, please sound off in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “What is the Bible?

  1. Not quite sure how these blogs work so posted my Facebook comment here too.

    Tyler, I probably would be wiser not to jump in here but I believe you are asking important and difficult questions that more and more believers in Scriptural authority are asking. I certainly am. I have come to believe the authority of the Bible must be understood in the context of what it actually is, an historic inspired testimony to the authority of Christ the Word, not an inspired blueprint or pattern, a kind of N. T. Leviticus. IMHO the Protestant tradition in reaction to the misuse of ecclesiastical authority understandably tried to find an alternative, more objective authority in scripture but in fact only created a veiled ecclesiastical authority under the cover of Sola Scriptura, but that only resulted in multiple authoritative (authoritarian?) creeds. I believe the authority of Christ over the Church comes from the ongoing interaction of the three works of God the Spirit: the initial work of Revelation in Scripture, the ongoing work of Interpretation in the Spirit filled community of faith and in the consensual proclamation of the overwhelming agreed upon orthodoxy of the Church historically, what C. S. Lewis called that great common ground which we so undervalue in a divided Christendom. To place all authority in sola Scriptura ignores the interpretive process not to mention the widespread unavailability of personal access to Bibles for the vast majority of believers both in historically, linguistically and geographically. I believe we must learn to trust the Spirit of God more than we typically do at least in most Protestant traditions to work in the Church’s ongoing understanding and proclaiming of the faith once delivered. The scandalous division of believers contributes to the crisis of authority at all three points. For what it’s worth, DL
    Like · 1 · Reply · More · 3 hours agoTyler, I probably would be wiser not to jump in here but I believe you are asking important and difficult questions that more and more believers in Scriptural authority are asking. I certainly am. I have come to believe the authority of the Bible must be understood in the context of what it actually is, an historic inspired testimony to the authority of Christ the Word, not an inspired blueprint or pattern, a kind of N. T. Leviticus. IMHO the Protestant tradition in reaction to the misuse of ecclesiastical authority understandably tried to find an alternative, more objective authority in scripture but in fact only created a veiled ecclesiastical authority under the cover of Sola Scriptura, but that only resulted in multiple authoritative (authoritarian?) creeds. I believe the authority of Christ over the Church comes from the ongoing interaction of the three works of God the Spirit: the initial work of Revelation in Scripture, the ongoing work of Interpretation in the Spirit filled community of faith and in the consensual proclamation of the overwhelming agreed upon orthodoxy of the Church historically, what C. S. Lewis called that great common ground which we so undervalue in a divided Christendom. To place all authority in sola Scriptura ignores the interpretive process not to mention the widespread unavailability of personal access to Bibles for the vast majority of believers both in historically, linguistically and geographically. I believe we must learn to trust the Spirit of God more than we typically do at least in most Protestant traditions to work in the Church’s ongoing understanding and proclaiming of the faith once delivered. The scandalous division of believers contributes to the crisis of authority at all three points. For what it’s worth, DL
    Like · 1 · Reply · More · 3 hours ago

    Like

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