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radical christians & the word of god (part 1 of 3): authority

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We believe in the authoritative, inerrant, infallible Word of God – and his name is Jesus.

This is the first of three blog posts on the authority, inerrancy, and application of the Word of God from an Anabaptist Christian perspective. Anabaptism is a 500 year old movement that primarily formed on the heels of the Protestant Reformation, and became known as the Radical Reformation. “Radical” is a good word to describe Anabaptists, since it comes from the Latin, radix, which means “root”. The Radical Reformers were and still are about getting Christians back to our roots as Jesus followers. If the Protestant Reformation was about getting Christians to rally around the Bible, the Radical Reformation was a further call for Christians to rally around the Jesus they read about in the Bible. (For more on the Radical Reformation, see our teaching series here.)

When Radicals (or, Anabaptists) hear or use the phrase “the Word of God”, we tend to think of three things in descending order:

  1. Jesus
  2. The message of God contained in the Bible
  3. The Bible

When Reformers (or, Protestants) hear or use the phrase “the Word of God”, they typically think of similar things as Radicals, but in reverse order:

  1. The Bible
  2. The message of God contained in the Bible
  3. Jesus

Ever since the 16th century, when the Protestant Reformers and Radical Reformers were differentiating from one another as alternative Christian expressions, this simple shift in emphasis showed itself to have significant, real world ramifications.

One critique that Radicals sometimes make of Reformers is that Protestants tend to talk about the Bible in ways that Christians should really talk about Jesus. Many Protestant Christians say things like “We follow the Bible”, or will talk about the “authority of the Bible”, or say that Scripture is “inerrant”. As a Radical Christian, these are things I would tend to say about Jesus first and foremost. I follow Jesus. Jesus holds all authority. And Jesus is the perfect one, without error.

Most Anabaptists combined a tremendous love for Scripture with a refusal to place it above or even alongside Christ as the Word of God.
~ Stuart Murray, Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Tradition

Sometimes when Protestants find out that Anabaptists don’t tend to use the word “inerrant” to refer to Scripture, they assume we must be theological liberals (where “liberal” is one of the worst things you can say about a fellow Christian). In their minds, there are only two camps: 1) theological conservatives who uphold the inerrancy of Scripture, and 2) theological liberals who demean Christian Scripture in order to import progressive (i.e., worldly) ideas into the Christian faith apart from biblical support. For many Protestants, it never occurs to them that there might be a third option: a group of deeply committed Christians who hold the Bible in very high regard as God’s inspired gift to the Church, but who also hold Jesus in even higher regard than Scripture and who use their language intentionally to reflect this. Maybe you’ve been part of this way of thinking. If so, I can relate.

This was me when I first heard about the Anabaptist denomination I am now a part of – Be In Christ Canada (formerly, the Brethren In Christ). I was an Evangelical with Reformed/Calvinist theology at the time I heard about the BIC. As a Baptist pastor, I had been slowly questioning some basic Evangelical assumptions, especially the role Jesus should play in how we interpret, understand, and apply everything in the Bible. It seemed to me that a Jesus-centred reading of Scripture should lead Christ-followers to fully embrace, among other things, the nonviolent, enemy loving, peace making way of Jesus. So when the leadership of the BIC invited me to dialogue with them, I was excited to learn about this 200 year old denomination, and to know that it was part of a 500 year old movement of Christians who prioritized precisely that – the nonviolent, enemy loving, peace making way of Jesus. But even though I was thrilled with what might become my new denominational home, as a transitioning Evangelical I remember being suspicious when I couldn’t find the word “inerrant” in the BIC’s statement of faith. “I knew they were too good to be true!” I remember thinking to myself. Inerrancy, I had been taught, was the litmus test of orthodoxy. Look for a clear and bold proclamation of the inerrancy of Scripture and you can be more assured that a church was preaching the true gospel. Today I’m so glad I didn’t run away from the issue or suppress my questions, but leaned into Scripture and the ongoing conversation around Scripture with my new Anabaptist family.

I learned that Radical Christians were far from theological liberals, but in fact the early Anabaptists would have considered the Protestants to be the liberal side of the divide, because they dismissed, disregarded, or otherwise excused themselves from following the most obvious aspects of Jesus’ teaching and example. Protestants were just as violent as Catholics at the time of the Protestant Reformation and the Radical Reformation, and they rationalized their violence by appealing to the Bible! Repeatedly, Protestants found biblical justification for violence which they used to overrule the clear nonviolent, enemy loving, peace making way of Jesus.

Anabaptists, on the other hand, had been willing to die at the hands of fellow Christians for generations because they refused to bear the sword in self defense or national defense. Their kingdom was the Kingdom of God, the war they waged was not against flesh and blood, but against a spiritual enemy (Ephesians 6:12), and their only king was King Jesus. Anabaptists believed that Jesus was God’s ultimate self-disclosure (John 1:18) and that all of Scripture should be relentlessly interpreted through the Jesus lens.  I realized that, whether or not I would come to agree with Anabaptist theology on every issue, mistaking them as theological liberals would be insulting to this branch of the Christian family tree.


Well, that’s my introduction. (Thanks for making it this far!) Now let’s talk now about the issue of AUTHORITY…


 

Anabaptists have a high regard for the Scriptures and an even higher regard for Jesus. Jesus, even more than the Bible, is our final authority.
~ Palmer Becker, Anabaptist Essentials

Anabaptists (Radical Reformers) read the Bible, study the Bible, memorize and meditate on the Bible. And yet, we don’t think in terms of following the Bible – we follow Jesus.  Why do I think this distinction matters? Because I want to align my language with Jesus, as recorded in the Bible. Let’s flesh this out a bit more in three ways…

Firstly, Jesus-following is our identity as disciples of Christ. We are Christ-ians, not Bible-ians (Acts 11:26). This aligns with what Jesus himself said – “follow me” (Matthew 4:19). It seems to me that this should be Christianity 101 and not at all a controversial idea.

Come to ME, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take MY yoke upon you and learn from ME, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For MY yoke is easy and MY burden is light.
~ Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

Secondly, Jesus said clearly, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). He then went on to base his Great Commission to his disciples on this one tremendous truth, when he said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus then goes on to say that the the process of making disciples includes “teaching them to obey everything *I* have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This doesn’t mean we just read the red letters of the Bible, but it does mean we read the entire Bible differently, as a pointer to Jesus, the one who holds all authority over our lives. Radical Christians believe that, as disciples of Jesus, our central commitment is to learn from JESUS as his apprentices. And, catch this, what we learn about Jesus from the Bible should inform how we read everything else in the Bible.

Thirdly, in the Bible we see examples of Jesus taking authority over the Bible. Consider the six-antitheses in Matthew 5 (where Jesus six times uses the pattern of “You have heard it said… but I tell you…”). Also notice the reaction of the crowd at the end of the Sermon on the Mount – that Jesus taught with authority, unlike other religious readers (Matthew 7:29; also see Mark 1:22, 27; Luke 4:32, 36; ). Or consider Jesus’ statement that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24), which he does apart from the sacrificial system mandated in the Bible. Or consider Jesus’ authority to singlehandedly reverse the dietary laws of Moses in Mark 7:19. Or consider Jesus overruling Moses’ teaching on divorce and remarriage in his discussion with the religious leaders in Matthew 19:8-9. Or consider Jesus’ self-alignment with the authority of God who lives above the law in John 5, rather than see himself as merely a man who must submit to and live under the authority of the law.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. … And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:16-18, 27)

Later in this same chapter, Jesus challenges the religious leaders who loved and learned and studied and memorized and followed the Bible…

And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:37-40)

This is serious. Jesus says it is possible to follow the Bible, love the Bible, study the Bible – and never hear the voice of God. Furthermore, it is possible to memorize and meditate on the Bible, and never have God’s “word dwell in you”. Let this sink in. Unless we use the Bible as a pointer to Jesus, and then come to JESUS for our life, we are misusing the Bible.

As a Christ-follower, when I open my Bible I don’t ask “God, what are you saying to me through the Bible?”, but “God, what are you saying to me through Jesus in the Bible?” This simple distinction means that I read everything from Genesis to Revelation differently.

A PROTESTANT OBJECTION…

It’s worth pointing out that those who identify as Protestant are not monolithic on this issue. For instance, on the issue of biblical authority, NT Wright sounds as Anabaptist as he does Anglican. Still, some Protestants object: “Wait a minute! You Radicals are using the Bible to establish the authority of Jesus! Doesn’t that mean you treat the Bible as authoritative?”  Now let me be as clear as I can. In the category of written documents, the Bible is uniquely and absolutely authoritative (as our BIC statement of faith asserts). But remember, as Christians, no written document is our absolute authority – Jesus is! Because the Bible is uniquely breathed out by God we trust it and use it, as Paul recommends in 2 Timothy 3:16. So yes, as far as written documents go, the Bible is authoritative – as far as written documents go. But we have a relationship with more than a written document. No written document, including the Bible itself, created the heavens and the earth and entered into our human condition and lived the perfect life and died the loving death that brought us salvation, and rose again as Lord of our lives. The Bible says, “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9).

The Bible does not give us Jesus; Jesus gives us the Bible; and the Bible then points us directly to Jesus. The Bible is not a Christian’s ultimate authority, but our penultimate authority, pointing to Jesus as our ultimate authority.

The Bible is to us what the star was to the wise men.
~ Thomas Adams

This relationship between Jesus and the Bible is similar to the relationship between Jesus and the star that led the magi to Jesus. Or, to use another analogy, the relationship between Jesus and the Bible is similar to the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he pointed and cried out…

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ (John 1:29-30)

John didn’t give us Jesus; Jesus gave us John, and then John pointed people to Jesus. Again we read…

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37)

Because John’s disciples listened to him and followed Jesus, this doesn’t mean they saw John’s authority as absolute. They simply trusted John enough to listen to his insight and turn to follow Jesus as their absolute authority. Because they trusted John, they submitted to Jesus. And that’s what we do every time we read the Bible and follow Jesus.

When John the Baptist told his disciples to follow Jesus, no one played the word game of saying, “But if we listen to John’s word and we follow Jesus, aren’t we just following John? Doesn’t that mean John has equal authority to Jesus if we’re listening to his instruction to follow Jesus’ authority? So let’s just say we are equally followers of Jesus AND followers of John.” No. Please no. This is silly. Because they listened to John and trusted John and believed what John said, they followed Jesus as the authority of their lives. And yet today many Protestants make the same objection. When Radical Christians say, “Jesus is our sole authority” some Christians respond, “But you only know about Jesus from the Bible! So the Bible must equally be your authority!” No. We trust the Bible, like John’s disciples trusted him, and we do what the Bible instructs us to do – submit to the authority of Jesus.

SO WHAT?

So why is this way of thinking important? Is it all just word games and academic exercise? I wish it were. I love word puzzles, and academic exercise is the only kind of exercise I like. But this discussion is more important than that. History has shown us that when a group of Christians champion the idea of the “authority of Scripture” as did the Protestant Reformers, they get no closer to following Jesus on some very important issues, like the issue of the nonviolent, enemy loving, peace making way of Jesus. During the 16th Century, we might explain Catholic violence by appealing to the influence of the Pope, who represented (or should I say, misrepresented) the authority of Christ in the Church. The Protestants, however, rejected Papal authority and clung to sola scriptura, meaning “Scripture alone”. This is a real world case study. With the Pope’s influence out of the way and with Scripture as their sole authority, what became of Protestants? More unity? No, more division (there are now thousands of different Protestant denominations). More Christ-like enemy love? No, more violence (wars, witch-hunts, and heretic burnings were not abandoned by Protestants). The Protestant Reformers missed such central teaching of Jesus because they balanced it with every other teaching in the Bible as a way of maintaining their commitment to “the authority of Scripture”.

I recently heard a well known Protestant Christian pastor preach on the Sermon on the Mount. He expounded on the radical nonviolent, enemy loving, peace making way of Jesus. I was impressed. Then he made this maneuver – he said, “Now, we know this isn’t an absolute mandate for all Christians at all times, since we can see that God gave very different instructions to his people through Moses and David and other Old Testament saints.” Then he went on to talk about Old Testament examples of violence as justification for Christian participation in violence today. Why was this pastor trying to balance the teaching of Jesus with other teaching in the Bible? Because he was following the Bible, rather than allowing every teaching of the Bible to point him to Jesus. And today, if Christians are to truly repent of our religious violence, our national violence, and our verbal and attitudinal violence, we will need to go beyond just following the Bible and zero in on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Dear Christians, we are not “People of the Book”. This phrase is an Islamic designation of Christians and we are not constrained to adopt a Muslim misunderstanding as our identity. No, we are not “People of the Book” as much as we are “People of the Person”. We are not (or at least, should not be) a bookish faith, lived out primarily by reading. This approach to spirituality favours the academically and economically privileged around the world and throughout history. Yes, “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48), and so those of us who can read and can afford our own Bibles should make much of that privilege. And while we read the Bible, may it always lead us to Jesus, the living, active, and authoritative Word of God.

Maybe you are or aren’t Anabaptist, but maybe you are “Anabaptish” – a growing Radical Christian who sees Jesus at the centre of it all. If so, I would love to hear from you. Comment away!

Peace,

 

 

 

NEXT POST – READ PART 2…
Radical Christians & the Word of God (part 2 of 3): Inerrancy

Tags : AnabaptistAnabaptistsAuthorityBibleinerrancyInerrantJesusProtestantRadicalReformationScriptureWord of God

110 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing about this. I hope that you will write about how you see the nonviolent, enemy loving, peace making Jesus in the following passage from the NIV in Revelation 19:11-21. Or if you’ve already addressed this, would you be so kind as to direct me to that writing please?

    11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

    king of kings and lord of lords.

    17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

    19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

      1. Hi Bruxy!

        I tried searching for the sermon you are referring to from the link you posted but found a list of 7 sermons in a series and couldn’t figure out which one covered the passage Phillip mentioned. Are you able to tell me which sermon specifically you were referring to? Thanks in advance!

        —Sephora

  2. Hi Bruxy,

    Love this post. One thing that’s bothered me for a while about even calling the bible the word of God is that it doesn’t seem to be biblical to do so – the writers of
    The New Testament had no concept of a Christian canon and couldn’t have known how their writings were going to be used! Do you know where and when referring to the Bible as the word of God started?

    1. Good question Matt. I don’t know when it shifted, I just know that you’re right about the language of the Bible.

      While writers of the Bible might call other portions of the Bible “the book/scrolls/writings of the Lord” (Isaiah 34:16), the early church seems to have used the phrase “the Word of God” to refer either to Jesus or to the message of Jesus or God. In other words, when talking about Scripture, the early church called it “Scripture” (John 5:39; 2 Timothy 3:16). So simple! When talking about the message of God contained in Scripture or delivered via a prophet or apostle or directly from the Holy Spirit, then it is called “the Word of God”.

      I’ll point out just one example for now:

      “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

      Note: the “Word of God” is the message preached and heard, not a book.

      Having said that, I know bad habits are hard to break and I understand if fellow preachers still, from time to time, point to the Bible and call it “the Word of God” – I just hope over time we will all try to do a better job of aligning our language with Scripture.

  3. Hey Bruxy. Great article!

    How would you define a Christian liberal, someone you speak of poorly in this writing? I am not trying to disparage you or your work. I like it. But, I’m wondering how you would demarcate liberal Christianity from your Radical Christianity.

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks Preston. In this case, most conservatives think of theological “liberals” as people who do not take the Bible seriously enough, allowing them to dismiss the parts they don’t like in favour of the bits they do like, rather than see every part of Scripture as valuable in pointing to the reality of Jesus. Radical Reformers never want to water down the wine – if anything, we want to spike it with maximum Jesus. (Weird analogy, but that’s where my brain went.)

  4. Hello Bruxy,

    I loved reading this. I was unaware of Anabaptists before reading this but I am intrigued. I was discussing this topic with a friend recently and will be sending a few more people this way to read it. Excellently worded my friend.

  5. Thank you for putting into words some of the concepts I am trying to explain to my mother. She brought me up with a loving, forgiving God, but all the churches in our area were Bible based. Then, about a year 1/2 ago my husband, an atheist, asked questions I did not have answers to. So I read the Gospels again, and underlined Jesus’s words as I did it. Jesus was first for the first time in my life. This changed everything. I thought I had lost my mind. I searched to find someone who agreed with what I found. I found Kurt Willems, Greg Boyd, and you speaking a Jesus centered message. I am training my kids up in this message. I discuss it with Protestant friends. And when he is ready, I have answers for my husband. Again, thank you.

  6. Thank you Bruxy. This paragraph for me is like gold:

    When John the Baptist told his disciples to follow Jesus, no one played the word game of saying, “But if we listen to John’s word and we follow Jesus, aren’t we just following John? Doesn’t that mean John has equal authority to Jesus if we’re listening to his instruction to follow Jesus’ authority? So let’s just say we are equally followers of Jesus AND followers of John.” No. Please no. This is silly. Because they listened to John and trusted John and believed what John said, they followed Jesus as the authority of their lives. And yet today many Protestants make the same objection. When Radical Christians say, “Jesus is our sole authority” some Christians respond, “But you only know about Jesus from the Bible! So the Bible must equally be your authority!” No. We trust the Bible, like John’s disciples trusted him, and we do what the Bible instructs us to do – submit to the authority of Jesus.

    Keep doing what you are doing 🙂 Grace & Peace

  7. I am soooo enjoying this path of Jesus! I have been ‘coming out’ of Religiousity for a long time and am so very refreshed to read my heart in print! This Jesus stands alone! I so appreciate your encouragement to BE !! FIND Jesus in your every moment! CHOOSE The Kingdom and watch yourself, and itself, Grow!! Love it, B!! Keep letting the Rivers flow from your heart!! They are HIM, and we ALL need to be encouraged to BE in the PRESENT!!

  8. This is a great series, one that I am very glad to have come across. Thank you for the scholarship in your work. How you speak about Jesus as the perfect, inerrant Word of God rather than the bible is very much how this liberal protestant pastor understands and has understood for decades.

    I would like to invite you a explore little more nuanced language regarding your two labels “Protestant or theologically liberal Christians” because it feels like you perpetuate a false dichotomy for how these two groups (not entirely accurate labels) relate to the Bible. First, you use the term Protestants as if that is monolithic when the group you seem to be speaking of are a subset of Protestant Christians (who might not even use the word Protestant to describe themselves) – Evangelicals or Conservatives. You seem to not be making a distinction between Conservative Evangelicals and Mainline Protestants (such as Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, UCC and so forth whose congregations and practitioners fall all along the conservative to liberal spectrum).

    It just feels a tad too tidy for human reality to dived the rest of the Christian world except Anabaptists into Protestants (and taking the bible seriously) and liberal Christians (who demean the bible). There are liberal Protestants, many of us, who hold the Anabaptist view of Jesus and Scripture AND are socially progressive and still “hold the Bible in very high regard as God’s inspired gift to the Church, but who also hold Jesus in even higher regard than Scripture and who use their language intentionally to reflect this..” The whole denomination that I am part of aligns with this description – the United Church of Christ.

    That is in fact why I am here – it has been a while since seminary and I am working on a piece of my own about the fallacy of biblical inerrancy, it’s danger and how to provide pastoral care for people when this thinking begins to crumble.

    Again thank you for your scholarship – I look forward to reading more of your cogent and faithful work.

    1. Thank you for this helpful nuance Kimberly. You’re so right – I have been using terms like “Protestant” Reformers and “Radical” Reformers in the more classic sense of who we were at the time of our beginnings, and focused on those Protestants/Evangelicals who have endeavoured to maintain (or increase?) a conservative position, and in the process I did not take the time to nuance how some strains of both Protestants and Anabaptists have evolved and adapted (I trust with the help of the Holy Spirit) and, in many ways, become more similar. Thank you for bringing this to light! I wish you well in your research. If you’re open to sharing, do send me a link/copy at bruxy@bruxy.com.

      1. Bruxy,

        Thank you, that clarification helps. I realize that as writes we often must use shorthand or what we think are commonly understood terms to help keep our blog posts from turning into thesis papers – 🙂 I myself have wandered into creating false dichotomies, sometimes on purpose but usually out of a sense of brevity and over estimating my readers’ theological background.

        and as I look back over my comment, I see an odd phrase or two (misspellings I hope) that are clear evidence that not nearly enough coffee was yet on board. What on earth was I trying to say with “It just feels a tad too tidy for human reality to dived the rest of the Christian world except Anabaptists into Protestants (and taking the bible seriously) and liberal Christians (who demean the bible).”

        I will indeed share what ever I end up sussing out. I am lucky to be in conversation with a lot of lovely, bright people and am grateful to count your voice among those with me on this journey.

        Best,
        K

  9. May I say a few words as simply a 67 year old follower of Christ with no formal education in theology but a lifetime of growing as a Christ follower. As a child my family raised me in the Lutheran church and I learned to reverently and fearfully seek Gods blessing on my life as I was a sinner. After marrying my husband we joined a United Church that was close to our home and heard that the Word of God was too different an interpretation than I was comfortable with. We moved to a Baptist church where I began to leave behind my roots of condemnation as a sinner( Lutheran) and find a loving Jesus who died that I might live free of that burden of guilt. I was made right with God through Jesus completed work for my salvation.At the Meeting House I am learning each year(12 years now) more and more of the greatest love I have ever known as I grow to love and understand Jesus love for me and his commitment to help me to grow as his follower and get out of my comfort zone and love others as he did and share the good news of Jesus Christ. I am not eloquent or a brilliant student of Gods Word but when life throws me curve balls (as it always does) I have learned from Bruxy’s teaching to truly look to what I know about Jesus and what he would lead me to do. I have such peace in my love and trust in my relationship with Jesus. I trust I will continue to grow in this loving relationship with Jesus till he calls me home. It is Jesus whom I look to and I learned about through the bible. But it is to him that I turn to for he is the vine and I am a branch needing sustenance from him.
    I am thankful you have helped me to see Jesus more clearly and trust him with my life and my loved ones.
    Yours in Christ
    Jane Hune

  10. You say that the bible doesn’t gives us Jesus but that Jesus gives us the Bible. Jesus gave us a church that by orthodox teaching for hundreds of years was believed to be founded on Peter. I find it difficult to reconcile when you consider Church history and it’s view of Scripture and Jesus but seemingly evade it’s view on Church and Church authority. Jesus has all authority of course but he didn’t leave it to us 2000 years later to figure it out. He left it with the disciples who had authority to teach ad let writings of Christian fathers. How do you pick and choose which part of Church history you find valid or relevant? In my observation you haven’t solved the problem of interpretation and authority but just narrowed the playing field. After all, we either trust those Jesus left to teach and his spirit in them, or we just trust our communal interpretation of Jesus’ words because he is infallible and he would never guide us astray… seems naively hopeful considering all the globsl chuech division on doctrine doesn’t it?

    1. Naively hopeful – that’s me! Thanks for this comment Evan. I also wonder if part 3 of this series might be of interest to you, where I talk about how the people of God should use “the book of the church”. Peace.

  11. This blog helps me to understand why it is so important to follow God and not the Bible. The Bible was given by God, not the other way around. I’ve come to love and appreciate the scriptures deeply, and to hide them in my heart. And yet I’m also painfully aware that Bible knowledge alone can bring me (or anyone else) only as far as the Pharisees. And in my mind this is not a pleasant or comforting place to abide!

    Jesus is the true radical reformer. He came to turn the religious world on its head by overturning tables and establishing a completely new way of relating to Father through His shed blood and enemy love.

    Bruxy, based on your experience why do many people prefer a rule-based religious approach to Christianity as compared with a direct, relational kind of intimacy that Jesus and the NT writers describe and model? What are the major impediments to this sea-change (or C-change) preventing us from entering into the freedom of living in community as God’s beloved family? And what is one step we could take to help shift our focus and become more aware that all scripture points to Jesus?

    1. Hi Doug. You’re asking a terrific question here. In brief, I think rule-based religion is attractive to some people because, unless the Holy Spirit truly reshapes our hearts to align with the will and ways of Jesus, rules are all we have to guide our steps. So, perhaps at the root of it for some people is the fear that maybe their own hearts are not actually made new or that the Holy Spirit is not actually indwelling them, helping them make Christ-like choices, or maybe it’s the fear that their temptations are just too powerful to be overcome through anything other than strong, sturdy, clear rules.

      I once had the chance to have a one-on-one lunch date with Ravi Zacharias, and I learned so much in that short period of time. When I asked him what he thought was the greatest truth that sets the message of Jesus apart from every world religion, he said that it would be the idea of rebirth and renewal of our minds and hearts and spirits in this life. The idea that we are reborn anew now, at the start of our life of faith, and that the rest of our spiritual lives is simply learning how to be the people we truly are – that is our challenge.

      How can we reinforce this truth? No one single step, but an ongoing life of reading, listening to, and fellowshipping with Christians who have found the freedom of New Covenant living and can reinforce this reality in your life. We were made to live this life in partnership, with God and with God’s people.

      Peace Brother.

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