The comments about my earlier blog are thoughtful, insightful and honest. How can I reply to each?! This blogging may be tougher than I thought. I’m going to put off addressing the question of “What’s up with the Old Testament and New Testament picture of God,” and talk a bit more about the Bible.
I’m a pastor. A pastor’s son. A pastor’s grand-son – on both sides of my family. A nephew of pastors – again on both sides of the family. I grew up in a home that not only had a Bible in every room but several Bibles in every room in every translation available. Our Bibles didn’t stay on the shelves. Ours was a home where the Bible was read, studied, discussed and, yes, debated.
We were taught to respect the Bible, not just the message in the Bible, but the actual book. You would never find my Bible left in the back of the car. It could be damaged by the sun. Each time I was given a Bible dad would show me how to “break it in” and how to apply mink oil to the leather cover.
I proudly carried my Bible against my chest, just like dad did it, as I walked into my Sunday School class. It was in Sunday School that I learned the song, “The B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the word of God. The B-I-B-L-E”
Oh, speaking of Sunday School, I rocked the Bible drill. “Bible Drill” was a competition to see which kid could find a called-out Bible verse the fastest. “Attention! Present Swords! Begin.” We’d be shaking like a thoroughbred waiting for the gate to open. Then we’re off! Seeing who could beat the rest of the field to Zephaniah 3:9 or whatever.
Yet. my parents taught me that while the “written word” – the Bible, was inspired, it’s primary purpose was to take me to the Living Word – Jesus (see John 1:1,18)
On Christmas, 1970, I received a Bible, titled, Reach Out, the New Testament in the Living Bible Paraphrase. “Reach Out” was a cool phrase for kids in the 1960s and early 1970s and this New Testament was “groovy”. Spiritually, 1970 was a big year for me. I was 14 years old. In the front of the Reach Out New Testament were written these words,
“To Phillip, who this year encountered the author of this book in a way that gives expression in his behavior.” Dad & Mother, 12/24/70
Lesson? One’s commitment to the Bible is measured by the reality of the presence of Jesus in his/her life.
C.S. Lewis was a popular author at our house. He said, “It is Christ Himself, not the Bible who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit, and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.”
The apostle Paul was also popular at our house. Paul did not teach that “every knee will bow and tongue confess that the Bible is the Word of God” (although I believe it is), but that “every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
We may have our differences on certain views of Biblical interpretation and how to understand certain texts, but on this we can agree: Jesus is Lord. He is the Living Word. He clearly shows us the Father.
I learned another song in my childhood – from “big church”:
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”