Posted by: alisonwalley | 29 March 2009

Do you believe in the Bible?

I hope that if you’re a Christian, your response to that question is, ‘yes of course I do!’ You might start talking about the Bible being the word of God. You might quote the Reformation cry of ‘Scripture alone’ (sola Scriptura) as a foundation of faith (not Scripture and traditions).

But I wonder sometimes…

When James talks about faith says that even demons believe in God. I wonder if they believe in the Bible? (Probably they do, because so many attempts are made to discredit it.) In thinking about the whole topic of Bible reading/study I started to think about how we actually treat the Bible.

Now don’t get me wrong. In our churches (I’m talking about evangelical Protestantism here), we do talk about the Bible a lot. We read it in our services, we preach from it, we teach children its stories, we study it together and we encourage people to read it. And that’s fantastic.

And in English we have so many Bible translations to chose from and so many different types of Bibles. We have study Bibles and annotated Bibles and youth Bibles and women’s Bibles (yes, I’m sure I saw a woman’s Bible in a Christian bookshop), and Bibles with cross-references and timelines and maps and overviews of the books and reading plans and more.

So yes, we believe in the Bible. But… with all these, what is it that we are relying on?

For instance, if I go to prepare a Bible study, shouldn’t I read the passage thoroughly first, before any commentaries or notes. Shouldn’t I really study it so that I know what questions I could ask so others can understand the text better? Why then do I sometimes (maybe more than sometimes), look at the questions in a Bible study book first, and think, ok that will do?

Isn’t it really easy to rely on what other people have said or prepared or thought? To read the Bible passage for today quickly, then the notes on the passage (assuming you use Bible reading notes of some kind), and allow those to think for you?

Surely believing in the Bible means taking time to study it. Maybe we don’t have time for study each day, but surely we have time to take something from a daily reading to meditate on? (I’m talking to myself here too.) Then we can hear what God is saying to us individually.

God in Christ has saved us by his grace, to do the good works for which God created us (Ephesians 2:10). And how do we learn what works he wants us to do? Through God’s word, which is given so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, TNIV)

So, we say we believe in the Bible, but do we really believe that it’s the Bible which enables us to be thoroughly equipped for whatever God wants us to do? If we do, what use are we making of it?

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Responses

  1. how about dealing with some of the problems? (from Phil via Facebook)

  2. It’s interesting the thought about demons and the bible. I’ve got a friend who struggles with assurance and one of the problems is the idea that “demons believe in god”. So I lokked it up and it actually says that the demons believe that there is one God. In other words, they know what is true (I guess they can actually see it). But I’m pretty … Read moreconvinced that they don’t actually understand a lot of what the Bible says. If Satan understood the message of the OT, would he have prompted all those people to conspire that Jesus be crucified? I think he doesn’t understand things like motivating love, or forgiveness, or suffering for what is right. This is a bit off your point, I know, but I thought it an interesting diversion… (from Mij via Facebook)

  3. This one is really from Alison: thanks for the comments! I hope to make this an ongoing blog so I do hope to deal with some of the problems. But as I also want to talk about Bible notes, studies, draw some links together, etc, it may take some time if I’m only posting once a week.

  4. I’ve been reading the Bible daily for about a year now, using notes which manage to be helpful and irritating at the same time. Helpful because they often point out something I haven’t noticed, irritating because they fail to answer some of my questions. (I’m afraid I’m far too argumentative to ever simply accept someone else’s interpretation!)

    It has certainly been an adventure. There have been days when the passage I’m reading doesn’t seem to say anything to me at all, days when I’m furious with God for acting in a way I disapprove of (leave poor Job alone!), and days like today when something wonderful I haven’t read before seems to jump out at me and change my whole way of looking at life.

    By the way, as a visitor from the ‘News from Farholme’ blog, I can’t help noticing a certain interest in the Puritans in your family:) I don’t know if Matthew Henry counts as a Puritan – maybe he’s not the right century – but I have a one volume edition of his Commentary and he is absolutely amazing! I don’t use him all the time, but when I do it’s like having a wise kind friend there helping me to understand. I wish I’d known about him years ago.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.
    With best wishes,
    Catherine


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