From a rational and empirical perspective alone, it is possible to surmise that, if there are intelligent designers of our universe, they are indifferent to human affairs, at best. One of the primary themes of the Gospel, however, is that the Creator of our universe is neither indifferent nor sadistic, but cares deeply about all humans, desiring the best for each of them. This theme, I think, is one of the themes that sets the Gospel aside as relatively unique for its cultural milieu, and relatively unique in contrast to currents of human thought in general.
The Gospel is not something that could be deduced via rationalism and empiricism alone. It is, I think, for that reason, many people consider the Christian Bible to be a vital source of knowledge. It is for that reason, I think, that many people elevate that collection of texts to a lofty place that often approaches, if not entirely becomes, a sort of deification of the texts. That is what I call bibliolatry.
The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. While I believe that the Christian scriptures are, in fact, a vital and divinely inspired source of wisdom, my personal panentheism requires that other sacred texts, natures itself, the human conscience, intuition, and many other such abstractions are also divinely inspired sources of wisdom. The Christian Bible stands unique inasmuch as it tells the story of Jesus Christ. As Jesus himself was quoted as saying, “39You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, 40yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.” Indeed, eternal life is a quality of life, not a duration of life. It is the quality of a life that is in communion with the Eternal. This is how Jesus is quoted as defining it: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Thus, many Christian elevate their scriptures to such a degree that they term themselves, “Bible-believing Christians”, and the assumption, I believe, is that there is really no such thing as a Christian who isn’t “Bible-believing”. By Bible-believing, people almost invariably seem to refer to the belief that the Bible is the literal, inerrant, infallible Word of God. They seem to believe that the voice of God can actually be contained in dead human symbols: in a human language.
But in fact, if one actually believes the Christian bible, they will tell you that only one thing is required to be a proper “Christian”. “. . . the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who trusts in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.18Whoever trusts in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not has already been condemned, because he has not trusted in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Thus, while the Christian scriptures do point to Jesus Christ, it is completely unnecessary to believe that the sacred texts themselves must be considered the inerrant, literal, infallible words of God Himself. That is not listed as a requirement for one to gain eternal life.
In fact, the Christian Bible itself makes it clear that Christ himself is “the Word” (Logos). Elsewhere, it makes it clear that the Word of God is Spirit. Thus, the Christian Bible clarifies that God Himself is the Word of God. That is another reason, I believe, why even referring to the Bible as the Word of God is a form of idolatry.
But this is a subject I’ve discussed elsewhere, and that I will explore later in this series.
Next: Part III