Saturday, May 17, 2014

Father, Son and Holy Bible?

Frequently the term bibliolater is leveled against people who believe in the authority of Scripture. The accusation implies that certain people, typically Cessationists, have replaced the work of the person of the Holy Spirit with that of holy Scripture. Hence why they condescend such people by flippantly saying they worship the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Bible.  Most definitely I would be one of the people accused of being a bibliolater. The question we need to address is not whether I am guilty of this but whether or not such guilt is even possible given the function of the Holy Spirit.

Bible worship or Bible study? 

Let us quickly extinguish the absurdity that is Bible worship as if the Bible in the physical sense is actually worshiped. I, nor anyone else I know, bows to the book itself. The book itself, that is the binding and pages and ink, is just a composition of man-made materials no different than any other book. There is nothing worthy of worship or supernatural about a Bible in its physical form. This would be akin to bowing to a golden calf or an image of the Mother Mary found in a piece of toast.

Now that we’ve tackled that straw man we can proceed without hindrance. Here is, admittedly, where things get a bit tricky and confusing. The Holy Spirit illuminates the believer’s mind to be able to understand the Bible. The Bible illuminates the believer’s mind to be able to understand the Holy Spirit. Both are true simultaneously. You’ll be very confused in regards to the Bible without the Holy Spirit and you’ll be very confused in regards to the Holy Spirit without the Bible.

Mitch Hedberg (a comedian, not a theologian) had this to say about pants and belts: “My belt holds up my pants and my pants have belt loops that hold up the belt. What’s really going on down there? Who’s the real hero?”

Immediately you are thinking of someone who knows a lot about the Bible but is still a very bad person. Of course such people exist. People can know a lot about the Bible (people, places, themes) without showing reverence to the text and can be learning more about God’s character while failing to emulate it. Just as people can be genuine believers doing good works while being Biblically illiterate. In fact, the norm is probably for people to be Biblically illiterate but comparatively moral.

The intention here is to discover what God asks of us as Believers and that is to be on fire, not lukewarm. Were the heroes of the New Testament balanced in their knowledge of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word? Or did they just have an extreme knowledge of the Holy Spirit but know very little about the Bible?

Did Jesus know the Bible? Absolutely! He was the incarnate WORD!
Did Paul know the Bible? Yes! He wrote a majority of the New Testament AND he knew the Old Testament extremely well.
Judge any of the most prominent Christians in the New Testament against this and you will quickly see they were extreme in both knowledges.

Does the person who is knowledgeable about Scripture but remarkably sinful excuse us from furthering our understanding of Scripture? Of course not. Does the person who is a really Godly person but holds to some really bad theology justify our willful ignorance? Definitely not. So, as Sye Ten Bruggencate would say, why are we arguing about something neither of us believe is true?

How can someone be guilty of bibliolatry? There must be some instance! There must be a way!!! Let us examine our motives right now as I go off on a rabbit trail. //Is this not our typical response to anyone that is too Christian? Do we not always seek to reduce them to our level? “Yea he’s got a great knowledge of the Bible but I just know he’s a terrible husband and father.” I know I have had those thoughts or similar thoughts. Then I get to know the person and I am completely ashamed to have ever had those thoughts. What it is, and I speak to my own personal experience with this, is that I do not want to see someone really on fire for Christ because I know that he and I have the exact same Holy Spirit and the exact same Bible and I have absolutely no excuse to not be as Godly as he is. None! Is that not just sickening? Does it not make you sick to know that we literally have no excuse to not be as Godly as the Godliest person on the planet?//

There is a way someone can seemingly be a bibliolater and that is if he believes his interpretation of the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit. That is to say that a person can incorrectly interpret the Bible and then hold firmly to that interpretation even though the Holy Spirit stands in opposition to it. Red-letter Christians, ironically, are guilty of this. They elevate the red letters in the Bible (those spoken by Jesus) as being more important than the black letters. They do not think highly of all of Scripture, just parts of it. This is just an extension of liberal theology as it paints an incomplete picture of Jesus that focuses only on the most palatable attributes of His character.

But honestly, that’s a bad example because those people only “worship” some of the text. Anyone who takes the totality of Scripture would come to a balanced view of God. His wrath and grace, justice and mercy, hatred of sin and patience with sinful men. Extrapolating a portion of the Bible is not bibliolatry but actually a hatred of the Bible and a violation of the 2nd commandment!

“The Pharisees, Tim! The Pharisees! They were surely guilty of this, right? The Pharisees emphasized the letter of the law over the spirit of the law. They were soooo guilty of bibliolatry!”
The Pharisees were indeed guilty of being more concerned about obeying the letter of the law than they were the spirit of it. The law was one of their own making though. Oh sure they knew the scriptures but their problem was that they added to them and took them out of context. What reverence can a man have for the Bible if he takes it upon himself to add to it (implying it was NOT good enough as is) and to rip it out of context (implying it is their prerogative, usurping God’s authority)? Their sin was not that they thought too highly of God’s word but that they thought too highly of themselves*. The Bible says to not add to it and to teach it accurately. They do not do either, how then can they worship the Bible if they show no remorse for blatantly disregarding what the Bible says?

I cannot come up with one instance where someone is genuinely guilty of bibliolatry. Why? Because no man in the history of the world has thought too highly or taken too seriously the Word of God! If you want to be filled with the Spirit, fill yourself with His word. It is so simple! Men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the Bible!

If you want to know more about the character of God, what book do you read? The Bible.
If you want to know more about the character of Christ, what book do you read?
The Bible.
So, logically, what book should we read to know more about the character of the Holy Spirit?
The only reason you would not answer the previous question with “The Bible” is if you reject the Trinity. And if you reject the Trinity you were not concerned with what the Bible teaches in the first place. I am assuming you do indeed know the Trinity to be true and you immediately knew the right answer to the question and thus you cannot refute that the book to read to discern and understand the Holy Spirit is the same book you would read to discern and understand God and Christ.

Do you think God would send us a helper in the Holy Spirit without instructions? Do you think He would lead us into confusion and disarray? Of what use or good would the Holy Spirit be if He is inscrutable? My dear friends, read the Bible and pray to God for understanding and He will oblige for it is the will of God for believers to know Him, for to know God is to love God and to love God is to glorify God and man was created for that very purpose.

*Jordan Hall of Pulpit and Pen broke this down beautifully the other day on his podcast

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