is the Bible the last word?

bible4In today’s Advent thought Bodenheim challenges us to think about the Bible, or rather how we view the Bible. She starts the thought with words from Eugene Peterson:

The simple act of buying a Bible has subtle side effects we need to counter. It is easy to suppose that since we bought it, we own it, and therefore we can use it the way we wish.’

I believe Peterson is touching on something quite serious here. How do we act if we BELIEVE that we own the bible? If we think this bible is mine? That mindset opens up the possibility of using it to back up our already held ideas. It allows us to pick and choose verses we like, while ignoring those that we do not. Many things have been justified by using the bible in this way, from slavery to domestic abuse. I think it is used in this way today in the news and in certain parts of the church with the condemnation of homosexual love and marriage. (this is another blog post for another time… but apparently the CofE is against gay marriage … I have never actually been asked … and there are very mixed views which I outlined earlier in the year here. )

On the other side of the coin, it leaves us with a choice … we can use the Bible as a weapon, to condemn, to control, to manipulate, or we can use the Bible as good news, to show how God accepts, how God loves and how God encourages us to be who he created us to be.

I believe the Bible is the word of God. If that is true, I have to ask, does the word of God condemn or liberate? Should the word of God condemn or liberate? Or does it do both or neither? Is it to be taken literally or does it need to be read in context? Is it the dictated speech of God or is it God’s word written in a particularly cultural way? Is the Bible the last of God’s words, or does God still speak today?

I wonder of we find it easy to elevate the Bible … and I fear that for some it may have become a god. Exodus 20 says; ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.’ Are we in danger of idolising the word of God?

I end todays thought with Bodenheims last words for todays reading. These words challenge me to think hard. I became a Christian when I was 17, and have been brought up mainly in the evangelical wing of the church … so I particularly find these words provoke me to consider my views more deeply:

If the Bible does not point us toward God, but instead speaks for God, then the Bible has become our god. 

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