Bible Verse: 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
As we prepare to delve deeper into the Bible next year, I am reminded that not everyone believes it is the Inspired Word of God. If fact, two weeks ago, one of the assigned readings in my diaconal ministry course was written from the point of view of a theologian who didn’t believe that scripture was written by human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit, but rather by human authors who were reacting to what they saw God doing in the world. Therefore, he concluded, that hat was written in the bible was at best good moral teaching, and at worst an incomplete history book. I might be forgiven for being dismayed that this was required reading except that it was intended to raise awareness that not everyone held the Bible in high regard, even by some so-called theologians. For many people in the world, the reading Bible is like me standing on a windy corner reading Shakespeare aloud while inhaling helium.
However, for serious students of scripture, the Bible makes a unique claim. It claims to contain the inspired Word of God given to us in order to guide our lives, and which can penetrate into even the deepest depths of our hearts where no other voice can reach. Paul’s second letter to Timothy confirms that all Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
The Bible is a unique document in the world of religious literature. It comprises 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. It is written by approximately 40 different authors over the span of at least 1500 years. And it is the single most analyzed, dissected, and attacked book in history. It is revered by its adherents, and reviled by its detractors. Many people have sought to destroy it, failing spectacularly in the effort. Voltaire, the French philosopher, famously said he would rid the world of it, and yet within a few years of his death, his house had become the home of a Bible Society. It has been banned in many places and times throughout history, and has even been called hate literature, or a threat to the status quo of the established social order. And yet, it has survived and thrived for millennia.
Every worldview and religion has its sacred texts. Islam has the Koran, Secularists have the Humanist Manifesto, Hinduism has The Vedas, Upanishads & Bhagavad Gita, and Atheists have their Science. Yet, no sacred text has been challenged as feverishly as the Bible. It is the Benchmark to which all the other sacred writings are compared and contrasted. Unique among the world religions is its accessibility. Christians have always seen the need to translate it because we understand that the God of the Bible is an incarnational God. He entered into His creation as a human being in Jesus Christ, and therefore his Word should be readable and reliable for every culture. This has also made the Bible the most translated book in the history.
The Bible declares that God is Spirit, and, while people attempting to describe what God is like are akin to ants trying to describe General Relativity to a fish, the Bible also tells us that one of the ways God has revealed himself to us is through scripture. By reading our Bibles, we can know God! Furthermore, we can know the purpose and meaning of life through His Word. This Word will always be God’s Word, and as the Holy Spirit opens your eyes, your mind, and your heart to the message of hope and salvation, it will become the Word of God to you and for you.
So please join us at St. Aidan’s as we read through the Bible in One Year in 2021. Praise be to our eternally faithful Father in Heaven.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.