Those who know me well realize that I'm not particularly a fan of Christian culture. There I said it. Some of you may think less of me now and I am truly sorry to disappoint. But please, for your own safety, don't suggest to me that Facing the Giants is great cinematography or even good theology. It's neither...and I happen to take it a bit personally (which is another story). Likewise I won't be offended but neither will I be impressed if offered Testamints as opposed to secular Altoids. There are no Jesus fish on my bumper. Christian t-shirts with messages like "God said it. I believe it. That settles it!" aren't really my thing either. In fact since I brought it up I find that particular slogan especially disagreeable. The more accurate statement is "God said it. That settles it." I am that picky.
Honestly the real reasons I am so persnickety are my unfounded pride and self-righteousness. But I also hope (there's that word again) my pickiness has something to do with a particular reverence for what God has chosen to make known about himself. In spite of my aversion toward Christian propaganda I am in fact one of those nuts who thinks that the Bible, the whole thing, was ultimately authored by God. I don't recall reading anything in it that is only validated by my belief. Whether I choose to believe it or not the Bible still makes the same claims. One of the most prominent of those claims is that the Bible in all its parts is in fact divinely inspired (2 Tim. 3:16). Thus the Bible is God's Word...because it says it's God's word.
Yes, I do realize what I just wrote. It's God's word because it says it's God's word. What else would skeptics rather hear me say other than I admit this is circular reasoning and therefore will end this whole charade right now? But as God's word the Bible possesses authority the likes of which belongs to no other written document; ultimate authority. Thus the only manner in which to prove the Bible's authority is to refer to more Bible. Maybe it would be nice if I could point to a half dozen other ancient documents attesting to the truth and authority of the Bible. Skeptics and believers alike might appreciate that. But if I could do it then the Bible wouldn't be the ultimate authority; those other documents attesting to the Bible's authority would be the ultimate authority.
We are in some deep weeds here. But before you are tempted to insert a mind-numbing Christian movie into your disc drive, hold on. We do this whole "self-attestation" thing, albeit to a lesser degree, with other documents all the time. Consider for a moment the Constitution of the United States. It is for all intents and purposes the ultimate authority with respect to the laws and governance of the United States of America. This authority is derived from the Constitution's authorship by "We the People." Clearly not every citizen of the United States participated in composing the document. Rather a select group were so inspired by the people as to create on behalf of the citizenry a democracy as described within the Constitution. There is no other legal document by which one can prove the authority of the United States Constitution. If there were such a document it would have more legal authority than the Constitution. The Constitution of the United States of America has authority as the Constitution of the United States of America simply because "We the People" in our authorship of it said that it does.
I think that's a pretty good analogy, except for the fact we are able to amend the Constitution. I don't believe we get to amend God's word. But if one were to protest that there are a bazillion different ways in which to interpret the Constitution I would agree that is true. The Bible suffers from the same problem. One might protest that the courts sometimes mishandle, misinterpret, or ignore the Constitution altogether. Churches, regrettably, do the same thing to God's word all the time and it rarely ends well. Individual American citizens may choose not to recognize the authority of the Constitution. When they do the result is, generally speaking, either imprisonment or a very lonely, isolated existence in someplace like the wilderness of Montana. Individuals may also refuse to acknowledge the authority of the Bible and like any decision that one will have its own consequences.
Things being what they are there exists a whole host of other issues associated with understanding and interpreting the Bible. But all this really boils down to one pivotal question: Can you trust it? That's the real question on the floor. There is a direct corelation between the depth of one's trust in the Bible and the depth of one's faith in Christ; and it's believing in Christ, his death, resurrection, and the forgiveness of sin that is the crucial thing. For all of the Christian ghetto's cheesy slogans, self-help gimmicks, and attempts to pass off propaganda as art, the Church's hope is not in any of that drivel. Our hope is in nothing less than the good news of Jesus Christ contained within the pages of what we believe to be God's word, the Bible.
Tim's preparing for a mission trip in the near future. Then he's going to take a little vacation time with the family. After that high school football season begins. Otherwise there is some classwork to be wrapped up. All this is to say that the blog is going on a little summertime hiatus, but it will be back...probably near the end of August. But don't let that keep you from posting comments, posing questions, or throwing rotten tomatoes at your own PC or other device as you read this or previous posts. Enjoy the summer!