By Wayne Harmon
The early church creeds all started out with a statement about God.
For example, the Apostles’ Creed begins, “I believe in the God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”
Likewise the Nicene Creed begins, “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.”
Fast forward to today when most evangelical churches’ “Statements of Faith” begin like this:
“We believe that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God and that men of God ‘were moved by the Holy Spirit’ to write the very words of Scripture. The Bible is therefore without error (inerrant) in its original manuscripts. God has supernaturally preserved the Bible, and it is the sole and final authority for faith and life, providing encouragement, guidance, comfort and instruction for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).”
“We believe the Bible to be the inspired and only infallible written Word of God.”
“The Bible is the inspired and only infallible Word of God.”
“THE BIBLE. The Word of God, the sixty six Books of the Old and New Testaments, verbally inspired in all parts, and therefore wholly without error as originally given of God.”
I could go on, but my point is that rather than starting with God, they now start with the Bible. God is not their focus; the Bible is. They have replaced God with a book.
Look at the first Statement of Faith I listed above. It includes the references for 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
The people who wrote this “statement” blend these unrelated verses, written by two different men, Paul and Peter, to two different readers, to support their statement, “We believe that the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God and that men of God ‘were moved by the Holy Spirit’ to write the very words of Scripture.”
That is not what Paul and Peter are talking about.
When Paul and Peter wrote these letters, “Scripture” was what Jesus regularly referred to as The Law and the Prophets; what we call The Old Testament. Jesus referred to these Scriptures to show that He was the promised Messiah. That is the purpose of the Scriptures.
2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 are not referring to the New Testament. I’m not saying that the New Testament isn’t part of the Bible. I’m just being honest with what Paul and Peter are really talking about.
These people further state, “The Bible is therefore without error (inerrant) in its original manuscripts.” Since the original manuscripts no longer exist, what is the point of even saying such a thing?
Next they say, “God has supernaturally preserved the Bible, and it is the sole and final authority for faith and life, providing encouragement, guidance, comfort and instruction for training in righteousness.”
I’m not at all trying to take away what God has done in giving us the Bible, but there are many ancient writings that have been preserved over the years. The Bible is the most important book in human history, but it is not the source of life and salvation. God is.
Their claim that the Bible is “the sole and final authority for faith and life, providing encouragement, guidance, comfort and instruction for training in righteousness.” is where things really begin to get ugly. At this point The Book has replaced God in their lives.
Now let’s go back to 2 Timothy 3:16 and complete the sentence by including verse 17:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
They leave out verse 17 which shows us the purpose of Scripture; that we may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
By quoting only part of the sentence, they make this passage about the Scriptures rather than about its purpose.
Also, notice Paul says that Scripture is “profitable”, not authoritative. There’s a big difference there. To say that something is “the final authority” closes the door to further discussion and understanding. The book worshipers quote a verse declaring, “The Bible says!” and for them the case is closed.
It’s like the abusive authoritarian father who decrees, “Because I said so! My house; my rules!” How can children grow into thinking discerning adults under that kind of tyranny. They can’t.
It’s the same of those who are caught in a church that replaces God with the Bible. They aren’t allowed to grow into thinking discerning believers.
It’s a shame that the Bible has been so abused, and as is being used to abuse others.
Copyright 2015: Wayne Harmon