Why The Bible Shouldn't Be Worshiped

The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.

You’ve heard that phrase before.

You’ve read it on bumper stickers.

You may have even said it a time or two.

It’s an odd little religious mantra that perfectly captures the strange, often paradoxical relationship we modern Christians have with our mysterious ancient text:

Many of us have made The Bible the central pillar of our faith, while not really knowing what it actually says. (especially not the earlier, weirder stuff).

We’ll claim without question that it is filled with words “from the very mouth of God”, and yet we can’t really be bothered to crack it open all that often (and then, definitely not the earlier, weirder stuff).

We want it to be the clear, consistent, unquestioned, unfiltered voice of Truth in all matters, but to do that we often have to avoid, discard, or talk around a whole lot of it (absolutely, the earlier, weirder stuff).

We so crave a Bible that we can use quickly and neatly to support our various arguments and discussion points, when that Bible doesn’t really exist.

The Bible we do have, is an incredibly complex library of writings, culled from thousands of years and multiple, very human writers; books that cross genres and native languages. Understanding the cultural layers piled upon the words over time, and finding the irreducible core and practical application in any given passage is a monumental challenge, even for those who spend the majority of their lifetimes deeply devoted to study.

Try putting any well-meaning, good-intentioned, faithful handful of seminary students, pastors, or pew sitters in a room, and you’ll be hard pressed to find any two who can find unanimous agreement on very much, let alone the totality of its 800,000 words.

Rather than admit and wrestle with the obvious challenges we face in historical context, writing style, and author intent, too many Christians simply hide behind some incendiary, line-drawing, black and white, all-or-nothing rhetoric: You either believe it or you don’t.

Maybe that’s because the Bible has become for so many believers, a fourth addition to the Trinity; something to be blindly worshiped, rather than something to help us better seek the One worthy of worship. We’ve come to treat Scripture as the destination of our spiritual journey, rather than what it was for the earliest believers: essential reading material on the way to the Promised Land.

You can see this misplaced worship everywhere; on message boards and on talk shows and from pulpits and in conversations over coffee, when so many of us wield the Bible like a terribly oversized power tool that we couldn’t be bothered to consult the manual for.

We just fling it around wildly and awkwardly, stuff starts flying—and then people start getting hurt.

Studies show that even though they might claim it to be of vital importance, the average Christian doesn’t read the Bible regularly. Yet those same people (as poorly versed in the Scriptures as they admit to being) will violently defend them when they perceive them to be under attack. With only a cursory, peripheral understanding of the text at best, they’ll use it to form an iron-clad, irrefutable worldview on everything from war to money to guns to sex to love to politics.

So many of us casually throw around the phrase “God’s Word”, as if we all agree on what the Bible actually says or is. I’m here to tell you, we don’t all agree on what it says or what it is and that’s okay. When a Christian accuses another believer of misusing Scripture, they’re essentially claiming sole ownership of its only interpretation, conveniently setting-up the dissenting opinion as the enemy of God.

The difficult reality to come to terms with for so many who claim Christ, is that those who have come to a different conclusion about the Bible, in both large and small ways have done so through the same thoughtful study, the same prayerful reflection, the same sincere desire to know the very heart of God that they have.

Another answer doesn’t automatically equal disobedience or disrespect or immorality or heresy. It’s simply the spot one has landed on; the same earnest, careful, God-honoring process, only yielding a different outcome. If we as believers can’t respect our varied understandings of Scripture and can’t bear any conclusions outside of a very narrow and rigid orthodoxy, our God and our tradition are fairly flimsy.

We need to be able to disagree on the text, even in very fundamental ways, without anyone pulling the Going to Hell card. It’s a cheap conversation stopper, and it reeks of arrogance and lack of faith.

The real problem, is that too many of us are choosing to simply deify the Bible as Divinity itself; something the Bible itself never asks us to do. It is not, as we so often mischaracterize it, “The Word of God”. Jesus is.  

We’ve decided that The Bible speaks every necessary thing that God ever has or ever will say (and that He’s said it exactly as we’ve determined, translated, and believe it to be).

In other words, by elevating the Bible to the same level as God and by leaning on our own understanding of its 66 books, we’ve crafted a Divine being who upon closer inspection seems to think a lot like we do, vote like we vote, hate who we hate, and bless what we bless.

The question we need to ask ourselves as modern believers, is whether or not we really trust God to speak clearly and directly to someone independently of the Bible. We know of course, that God can and does communicate through Scripture but is that the last, final, and only method He employs?

We believe that the fixed words of the Bible are, as it says, “living and active“, but do we believe that God is not?

The sad irony, is that too many Christ followers will fight for the veracity of a three-thousand year old library of rather muddy genesis and convoluted collation, while completely discounting a flesh-and-blood person’s realtime personal prayer encounter, with the God who they claim originally uttered those words.

The only religious worldview that makes the Bible the last and only word, is that of a God who is no longer living.

If we read the Scriptures like the will of a dead relative who is never coming back, then yes, we will cling to them as the sole voice through which He speaks. However, if we trust in a Jesus who is alive, and in a God who is fully present to individuals through His Holy Spirit, we will be fully expectant and confident that His voice and vocabulary are not confined to 66 books and 800,000 words. The Bible commands us not to add to the Scriptures but that doesn’t mean that God can’t. That’s what prayer often yields; not God reciting the ancient text verbatim but speaking anew to us.

Regardless of how much we trust in it or revere it the Bible can never be God, but despite what some Christians will tell you, it doesn’t need to be. We don’t pray to the Bible, though we can pray through and with it.

God is purely God and the only entity capable of being so.

The two can never ever be the exact same thing; (The Bible and the God of the Bible), and if we can’t honestly admit that, we’ll never be able to have meaningful discussion about either, without destroying each other.

As Christians, we should read, study, reflect on, respect, and where we feel personally convicted, obey the Bible—but we should never worship it.

The better and more honest option when coming to the Scriptures, might be for us to say: “The Bible appears to say that in this particular passage, I think I believe that interpretation, and now let’s talk about it.”

128 thoughts on “Why The Bible Shouldn't Be Worshiped

    • Lindsey,

      But how do you explain away the Shroud of Turin, does that not affirm the Bible?

      People criticize that there is quite a lot of discrepancies in the New Testament re Jesus’ resurrection, ie. before or during the Seder, how many people witnessed the empty tomb, how many angels were present, did Jesus the Resurrected go to Galilee or stay in Jerusalem, etc. etcc.

      But the Shroud nullifies all criticism, hence the Bible has to be true.

      • The shroud itself is never actually mentioned in the Bible. No one had ever even heard of it until centuries after the resurrection. There is plenty of reason to doubt that the shroud is actually what it’s been claimed to be. It’s existence neither proves nor disproves anything in the Bible.

  1. I don’t think people are worshiping the Bible.
    If your a casual reader than you are not a workman.
    True followers/workmen study it to gain knowledge and insight into God’s character. Demonstrating a sincere effort to know and understand Him more.

    2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

    • Peggy,

      I have listened to people quote John 3: 16 ad nauseum, and when asked if John or Jesus uttered those words, they are stumped. So yeah, I agree more diligence in reading.

  2. John – thanks for this most excellent piece. One thing I would take issue with: you say the Bible commands us not to add to the Scriptures, but I don’t read it that way (help me if I’m missing something). By definition “the Bible” can’t refer to itself, because the canon of the New Testament wasn’t agreed for several hundred years after the last words were written, but in any case my memory is that it is only Revelation which (in the style of such writings) prohibits anyone adding to or removing from itself, not from the whole New Testament; and it is one of the further problems of “Bible worship” that there is no certainty even within the canon of exactly what is “in” and what is ”out” – taking a famous example, whether the “cast the first stone” story in John (one of my own personal favourite stories of Jesus) part of the original gospel or something added later.

    • Many fundies believe that the words “Authorized King James Version” and even the name of the Bible Publisher, the ISBN number, and so forth were all added personally by God himself. I would assume along this same line of thinking that God chose the font type and font size. No, really. I have had fundies actually tell me this. That is what you get when your pastor has a day job down at the feed store.

    • Mr. Rush,

      I read that the Cast the First Stone story was actually thrown out from Luke, lost for awhile then re-worked in John. Erasmus got into hot water when he left out the Johnanine comma, since he couldn’t find it in the Greek Bible.

  3. Excellent John. I’ve been saying for years that those who worship the word, and not the Word commit idolatry. The Gospel means Good News, and is meant to build up believers, not meant to be a weapon against them. However it is too often used like a sword or other weapon of destruction. God grieves when this happens.

      • This passage does not say that scripture is inerrant or created directly by God through a process of “automatic writing.” The term “God-breathed” could mean any number of things, and I would want to see what it means in the language it was first written in during ancient times and how well or poorly that translates into English—and with the translation done at Duke University, Vanderbilt University, or Harvard Divinity School rather than at Homer Moore Bible College. Pastors trained at colleges like Homer Moore have an extreme credibility problem in my mind—plus I do not trust them when it comes to falsely “spinning” a linguistic interpretation their way. Just sayin’.

      • When 2 Timothy3:16 was written, it was referring to the Torah, not the bible as we have it now. It was just a letter, a thought, not scripture. So much of the bible is taken out of context.

  4. John, what a gift you have to be able to write as you do. These are things I’ve been advocating for years, but have never been able to say much of anything other than “God can and does communicate directly and individually with each of us if we just close our minds to everything else (including the Bible-which usually is a discussion-stopper.) His communication to you may be different than his communication to me depending on what we each need. So let’s be respectful of what we each receive individually from God.” When this discovery is tried, it brings a peace that supersedes all others. Thanks for giving me more words I can use on this subject.

  5. It’s disturbing that many Christians deny worshipping the bible. I can’t imagine any difference between biblical fundamentalists and hypothetical bible worshippers. Whether it is golden idols or gold leaf writings, both blasphemously attribute God to man made objects.

    • It is really fairly easy to see:

      1) God has been invisible to man throughout time. No one has seen God at any time. When many people pray to god, it feels like praying to air. People have always had a need for their gods to be real, tangible, and interactive. So, it is probably a natural thing for men and women to desperately want to find a way to make God be something you can reach out and touch. The Bible contains the words of God, so it is really a very short step to turning it into God—a tangible God that can talk to you by reading it. The bottom line though is that the Bible has not been, is not now, and never will be the person of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Treating the Bible as God is a manifestation of what scripture calls “The flesh,” and it is idolatry. Of all the Christian perspectives in existence, Christian fundamentalism is clearly the one most guilty of true idolatry with regard to the Bible.

      2) Christian fundamentalism, which was founded in the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, was created as a response to “German higher criticism” interpretation and understanding of the Bible that developed during the 19th century. A number of Americans thought the German theologians and their followers were “out to destroy the Bible.” Christian fundamentalism was founded to “Save the Bible.” Of course, the Bible never needed saving because scripture makes it clear that God’s words will never pass away—but some people are stupid, preferring to thump their Bible rather than read and remember it. Therefore, the fundies turned the Bible into a FETISH that they could create an obsession around—something quite akin to Gollum’s obsession with the Master Ring in the Ring Trilogy. And they have had that obsession problem ever since—and it makes them look ridiculous, which is one reason people are fleeing their churches. No one wants to be a member of an obsessive church with Gollumness as its centerpiece.

  6. Reblogged this on Lake Easton Chapel and commented:
    I thought that this was well put. I would rather have people read their Bibles more, and debate what they think it means, than go to church once a week and blindly parrot their pastor.

  7. God says it, I believe it, and that settles it.

    It has been my experience that most Evangelical Christians do know their Bible and spend a considerable amount of time in study. I am also a firm believer in Romans 10:17 “So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So what exactly is the word (lower case “w”) of God? I submit to you that it is our Bible a.k.a Gods words. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t give the credence to what the Bible says but will rely on what man has to say; they, they forget:

    “here is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” ~Proverbs 14:12

    Thus the quandary, who do we believe, the Bible or what some Pastor/Reverend/ or Priest says about it?

    If you think about it, the only source we have on God is the Bible. What other written source do we have that corroborates what it says? Frankly, if you want to be blunt, up until recently, we have had very little archaeological evidence/ artifacts to hang our hats on that the stories contained in the Bible were even true. For many Christians they say that they believe… because they believe. Their knowledge is based on a “feeling” and or unfounded faith that they are right. Gods word says:

    “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; ~Hos 4:6

    What knowledge have they rejected? I would say Gods law which we read in Gods word.

    So how can we know if Gods word is real? The smoking gun for me is the Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1947 and 1956. These scrolls contained the entire Tanakh, what we would call today the Old Testament. What is important is that these documents were buried well before Jesus Christ coming on the scene. These scrolls also prove that what we have in our current Bible matches what was written long ago. That is an important fact to remember. The very words that we read today were the same words in the scriptures that Jesus read when he said.

    “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. ~Mat 5:18

    The law is the Torah, the first five books in our O.T.

    The New Testament likewise has equally compelling evidence for its veracity (primarily the Codex) albeit there are portions that are in question. That said, the overwhelming evidence is hard to overlook as to its authenticity and reliability. When one looks at the N.T. and compares to the O.T. its a case closed discussion…

    In summary when you attack the only viable source we have on God and Jesus Christ, you open your self up to mans opinions and it is easy to go astray.

    Indeed there are 66 books, by 40 plus authors, written in three different languages, different cultures and over a 3 thousand year period, and all 66 books tell a homogeneous and cohesive story well. . . . that IS a miracle. There are so many neat things that I’ve learned about the Bible, but that only comes through diligent study… and the more you study the more you realize that Man could not have written the Bible all by himself.

    I would encourage you to pray about what I’ve written.

    • Thank you so much Rich! I completely agree with your reply. People overthink or get bored with Scripture. It is not worshiping the Bible that we are doing, but so worshiping God that we take the word seriously enough to study it ans pray through it to get Holy Spirit’s discernment. Keep defending the faith my brother!

      The enemy would love for us to start second-guessing it based solely on personal experience, private interpretation, and opinion. God Bless!

      • Sorry guys. You two seem to be missing the fact that all understanding of the Bible is filtered through a potentially fallible human brain. You two do not believe in scripture. Both of you believe in “what you think or decide” scripture says. Five other Christians might think a scriptural passage means something else. What makes your belief about that passage right and theirs wrong? Best I can tell the only thing that makes yours “right” is the mere fact that you believe it is right. Maybe we could put your opinion next to one bowl of dog food and put another opinion next to another bowl of dog food—and then see which one my Welsh corgi goes to first? My point: You ain’t got nothin’.

      • How about when Paul, Peter and James had issues about dietary laws, circumcision and mixing with gentiles, how do you explain that vis a vis OT Laws, Rich?

    • Rich, I find your statement: “the only source we have on God is the Bible.” Do you not hear God speaking to you in other ways, especially in your own heart? I love the old hymn, “This is my Father’s world.” I think that God continues to speak, if we are listening. If you think the Bible is the only communication of God, your experience with God will be very limited.

      • Deborah. Christian fundamentalists have a self-interest problem here that most of them would be loathe to admit. Scripture makes it clear that God can communicate with people in numerous ways outside of scripture. He can send angels with messages, He can talk directly to people from burning bushes, He can tell people what they need to say when on trial, etc. God is not limited in anything. However Christian fundamentalists wrongly believe that they can limit God to scripture and that some people will be stupid enough to believe it. But here is the “loathe to admit” problem. The only people in the universal church Christian fundamentalists have persecuted more than Roman Catholics is Christian pentecostals—who believe the Holy Spirit communicates with them outside of scripture by causing them to speak in tongues. Their deep historical commitment to persecuting pentecostals on this point makes it impossible for them to back up and admit that the Holy Spirit can communicate with people outside of scripture. They could not back up even if they wanted to do so because it would make them look fallible—and they want everyone to know that both the Bible and they themselves are inerrant and infallible. Of course, everyone outside of their own circles knows that they are as errant and fallible as the year is long—but they prefer the illusion of spiritual perfection and reserve it to themselves. I’m Tigger—and I’m the ONLY ONE.”

      • Deborah I never said that God doesn’t speak to us in other ways than the Bible… did I? That said, the Bible IS the authoritative source on Gods nature. It’s through the Bible that we learn about who He is.

        God will meet us where we’re AT in a multitude of ways. Through His word, through our circumstances, through other believers, through creation, through His Spirit, and through prayer to name a few. Each person and circumstance is different. This said, He will NEVER contradict what is written in the Bible and that is why it should always be your first stop.

      • Deborah. Rich is just plain wrong. The nature and personality of God may never change—but He does change his mind on matters in a number of places in the Bible—one being as follows:

        “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.…” (Matthew 5:38-39)

        The thing you need to understand is that God is a totally free, alive, and moving spirit that is sovereign over everything. He is not boxed in by scripture, and He is not fenced in—and will not be fenced—in any corral of human creation. With him, ALL things are possible. This means that if He wants to do so, He has the power to violate his own statements—yet not ever violate them by doing so—all at the same time.

        Rich wants a God who is small, fenced in, and limited by the pages of the Bible so He can feel confident that God is not going to pull a “Crazy Ivan” on him one day and maybe send him to Hell when He was absolutely certain He was going to Heaven. At the bottom of it all, Rich does not want God. He wants CONFIDENCE and CERTAINTY in life and death.

        Sorry Rich. God does what He wants to, whenever He wants to, and wherever He wants to—and He may not care what you or I think about it—and He can violate scripture if He wants to because he is…well…God. It is his scripture—not yours—and He can do whatever He pleases with it.

        The real question Rich is why you need absolutes, confidence, and certainty so badly in life. What happened in life that gutted you so badly?

      • Dover, those points speak to my heart with an “amen”. Here is what comes to my mind as a result and maybe it will speak to yours as well?

        Therefore MANY OTHER signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are NOT written in this book John 20:30 (The word “book” is Greek word “the SCROLLlet” from Gal 3:10, Rev 21:27, Rev 22:18 & Rev 22:19 It is one SINGLE Book…I.E The ENTIRE “Bible”)

        And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they *were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself *would NOT contain the books that *would be written John 21:25

        Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
        And Your thoughts toward us;
        There is none to compare with You.
        If I would declare and speak of them,
        They would be TOO NUMEROUS TO COUNT Psalm 40:5

        My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
        And of Your salvation all day long;
        For I DO NOT KNOW THE SUM OF THEM Psalm 71:15

        Is Jesus really the truth like he says he is? If so, is Jesus (all truth) limited to written words?

        How big is YOUR Jesus and your “truth”? Is he limited to a “book” containing written words? Or is he the LIVING Son of God written into the very “book” of our hearts?

  8. What does one say? The philosophy John presents here is nothing new. The denial of the Authority of Scripture. At the council of Nicaea in 325 there were many who denied the Authority of Scripture and said Jesus was not God the Son, but merely a son of God. They also denied that the Holy Spirit was God the Spirit. But Athanasius won the day and we have had the Nicene Creed ever since as a doctrine that binds the Church together on the nature of who God is; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Athanasius won the day because he backed up his argument with SCRIPTURE. Once scripture is tossed away as our authority then all beliefs and ANY belief in anything is valid and true. The blending of all religions into a single religion where all “faith systems” are true and valid is demonic. John has joined the likes of Marcion, Mary Baker Eddy, Rob Bell, etc…. who have tried to pretend they are Christians and yet deny the Scriptures that teach about Christ. If the scriptures that we have are false, how does John know what is true?

    • Lance. Go find a brain somewhere. John never said the things you are accusing him of saying. Basically, all he is saying is that faithful people often disagree about what passages in the Bible mean, that the Holy Trinity is God (not the Bible itself), and that it is okay for people to disagree and talk over the meaning of scriptural matters with each other. He further adds that God is not fenced in by the Bible like cattle in a corral. God can speak to people and direct people to do things for him outside of the words of the Bible.

      If you had been alive in A.D. 30, you would have said that God only speaks to man through the Torah and any other voice outside of it is the voice of Satan. However, when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus with words outside the Torah. Do you mean to tell people that Satan showed up to bless the baptism of Jesus. I know you have a brain somewhere Lance. Please go find it and use it. Jesus will bless you for it.

    • Athanasius

      didn’t win the day, it took close to 3 generations before his version was canonize, the Arians actually won, but thru politicking and the fact that the anti-Arians found favor in Rome (as oppose to the Greek world) played a bigger part, Athanasius’ version was actually a lot more illogical, but thanks to the Cappadocian Three using Plato’s Form, Word & Power, wallah! the Trinity.

  9. Keith Thomas My goodness this is just an excellent read. We should never fear challenging our thinking. God gave us free will for a reason. God expects us to use our brains.

  10. For some reason, many friends think I will find ‘attorney jokes’ funny. Seldom is it the case, but I do like one in particular.

    When conducting a study, the examiner sat in a chair in the middle of a room, and had a chair in front of him. Nothing else in the room. He asked the same question of all three participants: “What is 2 plus 2?”

    The mathematician and scientist each responded – albeit in a rather lengthy, well-reasoned explanation – that the answer was “four.” When asked of the lawyer, he looked around the room, got up and went over and shut the door, and returned to his seat. He then scooted close to the examiner, leaned in and said, “What do you want it to be?”

    So it is with Scripture. We tend for it to say what we want it to say. Your last paragraph is the best approach, regardless of how ‘inerrant’ the Word of God shall be presumed, as it is always subject to the application by each of us, and we are anything but without error.

    I, in my interpretation, believe there are some Scripture that leave no room for doubt. But, I always fall back on the rather humorous discussion that was had on my first day attending a deacon meeting at a southern Baptist church. The issue was one that had been battled off and on for years, and I am sure it is still high on the list of those most important issues facing the deacons: What does it mean in 1 Timothy 3:12 where it says a deacon should be a husband of only one wife?

    Now, there may be other important issues and deeds to be addressed by a deacon body, e.g. widows and orphans. But I dare say nothing will drive attendance of a deacon’s meeting like the decision as to whether a divorced man or widower could ever be considered deacon-worthy. You just haven’t lived through ‘Scripture interpretation’ quite like the wisdom that is tossed around the hallowed halls of deaconville at a Baptist church as when first you dare to disgrace their honor with the likes of a divorced or widowed poser of virtue. Without exception, someone will point out that Jesus wasn’t the ‘husband of only one wife’ so He obviously couldn’t be a deacon, and that always gets the Brylcreem in a lather.

    So, I agree with you John, although I might not always agree with your interpretation, that it is best that we have the right to state our interpretation of what Scripture means, and then we can talk about it.

    • There is always this one too John:

      “I believe in the death penalty. God says we can kill guilty people in the Old Testament. Besides, the government executed Jesus on the cross, and if that was good enough for the Lord, then it is good enough for me!!!”

  11. Reblogged this on The Spiritual Blog of Rev. Michael F. Copado. and commented:
    For the last few weeks I’ve been gathering my thoughts (and my courage) to write a post/article titled something like “Towards a grown up God.” An article which I’m sure is going to anger a lot of folks, but I feel its something that had needed to be said for a long time.

    What I’ve been trying to formulate and to, I hope, articulate is that it is about time that we begin to have a grown up view of God, Jesus, other religious. That we need to shed the fear based, superstitious form of religion that is still believed and practiced by way too many folks here in the 21st century (Mostly and loudly by those on the “religuous right.” We need to kill off the form of “Christianity” (and I use the term loosely) that uses words written 2,000+ years ago to deny basic rights to out LGBT brothers and sisters. We need to shed the same mentality that brought us the Salem witch trials, denies evolution and generally is just afraid of science, and progress in general, and enter into modern times.

    How we need to re-evaluate and redefine just what God is, away from the anthropomorphic, capricious, sometimes abusive father up in the clouds who is supposed to intervene in the world, and stop catastrophes, and if HE doesn’t, then clearly HE doesn’t exist. How we need to do the same with Jesus, go beyond the “supernatural,” two dimensional cardboard superhero version that most of us grew up with, which has become an amalgamation of scripture and popular culture mythology and more than likely bares little resemblance to the true person (and not just in terms of physical appearance.)

    How we need to get beyond a Christianity that is largely a death cult focusing on worshiping Jesus, and instead become one focused on LIVING HIS TEACHINGS about charity, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion.

    And that we need to shift the level of contemporary Christian discourse away from, for example, whether or not Katy Perry’s performance at the Superbowl would be ” complete maximum evil.” As I wrote on Superbowl Sunday, “…No wonder was can’t have an open dialogue and learn from our Islamic brothers or sisters, or any religion for that matter, or even from other denominations… or solve any of the problems on this planet because this is what fills the airwaves, and the heads of Christians in this country…When are we going to stop wasting time with outmoded superstitious drivel like this?”

    One of the things I’ve talked a lot about lately is how If we truly call ourselves “Christians” then we need to stop quoting and throwing the Old Testament around, especially to hurt one another, because Jesus said in a sense that he came to replace the old laws with a new commandment “That we love one another.” And the same goes for the books Acts through Revelation, that perhaps they should be jettisoned as well; that to truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then our lessons on living and loving are to be found in the 4 Gospels (and perhaps others that have been left out for various largely political reasons) only.

    Probably my greatest theological hero, Bishop John Shelby Spong once suggested that just as we wouldn’t try to learn surgery from a 2,000 year old medical treatise, nor should we try to make moral/spiritual decisions based on one either. Especially when those decisions cause harm to others.

    I’ve said for decades that the Bible did not arrive in our hands etched it stone, that it was written by man, edited by man, and compiled by man, and contains every foible, and fear of man in it. I’ve said that it was an impassioned example of man attempting to “fathom the unfathomable” the nature of the universe, and our place it it, but it was a product of the times, and the level of sophistication of the men who wrote it. And compared to (most) of us today, those people were superstitious; When it thundered or a natural catastrophe occurred the gods/God was clearly angry at us. When a person suffered from what we would now recognize as schizophrenia, they were clearly “possessed by Demons,” and when man in his infinite capacity to be inhumane to each other, we created a Devil, a “fallen angel” to blame for leading us astray.

    I’ve said for a long time that we really need to re-evaluate the role of the bible in Christian life. Possibly even having the courage to jettison the material that harms, and no longer serves us… and admit that some of it never served God to begin with, but was put in there to cause fear, to control, and to justify selfish acts. And we need to look seriously at those scriptures that we know were historically left out of cannon for various reasons. And we also need to look at other spiritual material, both old and new, and perhaps incorporate those into our spiritual practices, we already do anyway, so let’s uplift their status.

    Or, as I said earlier, let us make the TRUE Christian Bible, the guidebook of how to life, only the 4 Gospels that actually contain the teachings OF Jesus.

    Now I’m sure John Pavlovitz in this excellent blogpost I stumbled upon this morning would not go as far as me in this regard, but he does bring up some very salient points about the how we should treat it.

  12. Thanks, John, an excellent piece that really shows insight and so gives me the justification I need for my attitude to that amazing book.

  13. Nice article. I want to add if I may: The Bible is the written word of God in a book on paper that exists in this shadow (physical) realm under law. Hebrews 10:1. This realm under law “is void and lacks true form) Gen 1:2 because it is NOT the true substance. Christ is but he is hidden. Col 2:17 Thus, it (the written “Bible” on paper) lacks true SPIRITUAL “form” just like the rest of the (physical) Earth in Gen 1:2. Christ himself (THE LIVING and BREATHING WORD) is the very TRUE form of all things and the “true substance”. But, we do NEED the original “words” of scripture or we won’t be able to begin to “see” him within. Every original “word” of the original scriptures are POINTERS that point to an aspect of Jesus who IS the (living) truth. So, we do NEED the original scriptures (not 30+ translations that don’t agree) in order to “see” Christ hidden within us. The words of scripture are “pointers” or “signs” that point to the true substance within.

    Here is the most solemn truth that is very powerful. The true “WORD” is LIVING and God has written HIM upon our hearts or our inner SPIRITUAL man. Some of us have “Hebrew” hearts and it is written in (a) “Hebrew” (old covenant) and some of us have “Greek” hearts and his Word is thus “written into (the) Greek” (new covenant). Then, there is the “Latin” (heart). John 19:20 and Luke 22:38. This was done before this current world (of darkness) in the spiritual creation of the Israel OF GOD mentioned in Gal 6:16. This is ALL people of all time.

    When we worship the book called the Bible we are worshipping an Idol and not the true and living Word of God within, but this was caused by God himself. He setup that idol and the truth will be revealed to all in the fathers proper time. Luke 3:6, 1 Tim 2:6. Notice all the “6”‘s? that is the realm of natural man where the written bible exists. I write about some of these things in my blog. God bless.

  14. 1) The whole Bible is not a science textbook or a history textbook.

    2) The Bible was written directly by God through a process of “automatic writing”—meaning that ancient writers entered a trance-like state, God took control of the muscles in the writers’ hands, and made the quill and ink write words on a page. In other words, I do not believe the Bible was written the way this alien behaves in the movie clip (below). The professor in this video clip is either unconscious or dead, and the alien tentacle is manually manipulating his vocal cords to speak. Fundies believe the Bible was written this way—only the alien was holding the writer’s hand (instead of his throat) and making it write words on a page. How many of you knew that fundies think the Bible was written this way? Let’s see a show of hands!!!

    3) The Bible contains numerous internal factual errors and contradictions throughout the text. Real and truly faithful Biblical scholars (1000s of them) have known this for centuries. The notion of comprehensive Biblical “inerrancy,” the way it is thrown around in public today, is a recent invention dating to about 1900 (give or take a few years). Numerous websites show the contradictions and factual inaccuracies—and we know that it is scientifically and historically inaccurate—not believe—or think—KNOW.

    4) The Bible does not claim to be a science textbook, history textbook, a book written through automatic writing, or to be inerrant and without internal contradictions and conflicts. These are all human notions imposed on the Bible by human beings.

    5) One factual error or contradiction in the Bible—or even hundreds—does not diminish the text or the value of its spiritual messages. The notion that if even one error or contradiction is present, then the whole Bible must be thrown away as unreliable is pure, rarified bullshit.

    6) It is not necessary to believe every word the Bible says in order to be “saved.” This too is pure, rarified bullshit.

    Those are my thoughts on the subject. I have many, many, many more. Jesus loves you, and he is the divine Lord of ALL—even Lord over the Bible.

  15. John, John, John. I absolutely love your heart and mind. I left the church 5 years ago after being a Music Director/Praise a Worship leader for 16 years (with family heritage traced to Martin Luther – long line of people searching to understand God) due to a Road to Damascus experience that somehow gifted me to study Ancient Hebrew and the bible for 6 hours a day for almost 2 years. This, of course, lead me to question much of what we Christians are being taught and, of course again, sharing some of this with my pastor and asking, “What do you think?” I was labeled a heretic before he would even look at my studies and ordered me to be silent since I was a highly influential (his terms – gee, I didn’t know that) person in our congregation. The great thing is, this did not offend me at all and gradually left in a spirit of love. It did not offend because I have come to the understanding that God reveals Himself to some and blinds others for a purpose to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment (Ephesians 1). I have been blind in my past as I could very well be blind now – but that’s ok, it’s a journey with every step a treasure. I just have to trust God to show me who He is and to know Him through His word, study and personal revelation that brings so much joy that it really is GOOD NEWS.

    Thank you so much for starting this site. It is like community to me (something I’m hungry for). You are very blessed because the majority that comments here seems to be of the same longing and not usage of much swearing, hate and judgment. So, I pray you are strengthened today, filled with joy, having ears to hear and eyes to see.

  16. Amen. It is about letting the Holy Spirit enter us and work in us. It will all come to fruition, if we just let it.
    All the disagreeing is snuffing out the Holy Spirit’s light and thus cutting people off from God. We have to… let… God…work.
    We Christians are….cutting God off from people by all our bickering over scripture. Sigh….
    God already knows every thing that is going to happen, lets give it all to him.
    Build your relationship with God and allow others to do the same.
    Personally, I’m tired.
    Rest in His Grace.

  17. 7) There are no such things as God’s “dispensations.” God is not a vending machine. The whole idea of dispensations is a man-made classificatory scheme imposed on the Bible from outside it by the all too fallible man named Darby and his very human cheerleader named Schofield.

    8) There is no such thing as the “rapture,” and fundies are not going to be rescued from some tribulation. The bodies of all men and women are going to die in this earthly life, just as they always have. No fundie gets a free ticket out on a man-made rapture fantasy. Oh sure, faithful human spirits may receive spiritual bodies and be caught up in the air with Jesus at some point. The question is when and under what circumstances? Only God knows that—and I am confident to rest in that.

    9) There is one name that is above every other name, and that name is “Jesus.” It is not and will never be “Bible.” The Bible may contain writings that describe the words and actions of Jesus, but it is not Jesus himself. And no, the Bible is not greater than Jesus because without it we would not know anything about Jesus. Jesus is the name that is above every name—period. If every Bible that exists on the Earth were to disappear tonight, Jesus would still be alive, well, and active in the lives of believers. He is the great I AM. He “AMs” whether the Bible likes it or not and whether the Bible exists or not.

  18. This is my first comment. I’m not, now, a Christian, although I was a devout Presbyterian until I was 17 and learned to meditate (I am now 63, a psychotherapist, and have been practicing mindfulness meditation for 45 years, and teaching/presenting on it for 25). I’ve since traveled many paths, always seeking a compassionate, all-inclusive spiritual community that has service to others and non-judgment as its bottom line – the number of “one-way” communities out there is astounding. I am now a devotee of Thich Nhat Hanh, but I have always loved Jesus as my model for humility and healing.

    Thank you for your courage and daring to speak your truth. The Bible has been a source of support for me in extremely dark times (“Unto thee I will cry, oh Lord my Rock, be not silent unto me”) and yet I don’t consider it the “Word of God.” I so appreciate your compassion, humility, and integrity. Thich Nhat Hanh encourages Christians to remain Christian – Buddhism is not exclusionary – and I still remain hopeful to find a Christian community with which I can join that won’t condemn me for believing God is immanent as well as transcendent. Truly, I could never think of God as apart from me, or believe that God resides only within the covers of one book. God is the Ocean, and I am a wave within that ocean.

    I imagine you’re quite familiar with crucifixion by now. In spite of which, I hope you will continue to speak to all of us with Christian origins who crave a more compassionate, merciful, loving, and inclusive faith – a faith without fear and judgment of others that I believe Jesus personified.

    If you want to know a true Christian, consider the fruits of their labors. In therapist-speak…look at the behaviors, not the words.

    With much gratitude,

    Kevin Ferris

    • to kevin ferris
      i appreciate your words. i too believe that one’s relationship/connection with love (whether we want to give it the name “God” or call it something else) is the essence of shalom, which encompasses life as it was intended. what a different world this would be if love ruled.

  19. Let’s be ever mindful that we are not called to worship the Bible. That is called idolatry. We are called to worship the God who gave us the Bible, and who preserved it through the centuries of people who sought to destroy it.

    A friend of mine gave me a link to the history of the Bible, and ALL the translations, how it all began, Etc.. The ^^^^ were some of the last few sentences.

  20. I agree and believe that we all so need to know the history of the time and place.
    Also we need to let the Holy Spirit lead us. God is able to get us to where He wants us according to His plan for each one of us.


  21. I agree there should be no bible worshiping and that there should be honest and open discussion over interpretation. The fact that we are imperfect people who will argue about it all does not diminish the value of the content or message in any way.

    There are things written in the bible that are unequivocal in nature. I personally believe that the written word is powerful and “living” in the sense that it is a message from God that speaks clearly and persistently into the mind and heart on many levels. I don’t “worship” my bible, but I do treasure highly the messages, instruction and hope it holds for, and brings into, my life.

    I won’t “worship” the bible, but neither will I downgrade it.

    • Firstly I agree with Ann above. Don’t know anyone who ‘worships’ the bible. Only those who believe it is Gods guide for our lives and as someone else stated show Gods character and intentions for how to live for Him. If you mean people who take it seriously as worshipping it you are being rather arrogant yourself. To not take it seriously and say each can interpret it how they want, also you said God can instruct in other ways, so He can but He will never contradict His own word. If God can chop and change as He likes then what is the point of it all. There is basically nothing to follow. To say people can interpret it as they like gives us imperfect humans way to much power. I thought this is actually what is going wrong in the church…too many people having their own interpretations to suit whatever it is they want to believe in. While I do believe we should be able to have free expression to discuss the bible there has to be an absolute truth. So far all we have is the Bible anything else is just too open slather.

      • Carmel. You forgot to say that your understanding of the Bible is the ABSOLUTE, TRUE, AND ONLY ONE—and that no one else knows anything about the Bible if they disagree with your interpretation of it. Oh yes you do!!! Everyone interprets scripture and does it by filtering the meaning of scripture through a fallible human brain. You can claim the Holy Spirit is your filter—somehow bypassing your brain—but so can Ann and everyone else here. Who is right? Am I supposed to believe you just because you say you are right—not likely and neither are 100 other people who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. And your fundie pastors eviscerate each other verbally in their own disagreements amongst themselves over the meaning of scripture and the nature of sin. I have actually ventured into a couple of on-line snake pits where they were doing it. There was enough poison venom to fill a swimming pool—and all of them were totally convinced that they, and they alone, possessed your so-called absolute truth.

        Carmel. My dear friend. I would like to ask a few questions of your heart this day. Have you ever had trouble adjusting to the ambiguity of everyday life? Was there a time when uncertainty and anxiety about the future and your place in it were major concerns in your life? Before you were a Christian, did you have trouble discerning truth from untruth in everyday life? Were you easily fooled by other people? Did people lure you into bad relationships that you should have known better than to get into in the first place? Did you have problems seeing the best way out of difficult circumstances in life—and wonder how you ever got into them to begin with? Were you easily drawn into free sex, drugs, or other crazy behaviors? Were you like Meryl Streep in the movie “Sophie.” “Zee troot. Zee troot. I doan know vat ist zee troot”? Were you from a broken family where no one was there for you to consistently step in and teach you how to discern true from false? Did you long for a firm and solid anchor point in life—something that would stand still—and you could grab onto—while the confusion and chaos of life were swirling and spinning all around you?

  22. This says so much that I have tried to put words to for so long. I loved these words, as they validated my journey through a painful process in a way I couldn’t easily explain:
    The difficult reality to come to terms with, for so many who claim Christ, is that those who have come to a different conclusion about the Bible, in both large and small ways, have done so through the same thoughtful study, the same prayerful reflection, the same sincere desire to know the very heart of God that they have.

    Reading your blogs has moved me so much. Your words personally inspired me to start a blog describing my own journey of faith. I would be honored, if you get time, if you checked it out sometime.

  23. Here is a man who is deluded by his own misunderstanding of scripture and his own bigotry. The problem is not “…the truth in the scriptures here.” The problem is that this man filters the meaning of scripture through the man-made cultural bigotry and hatred that has accumulated in his own brain. Men like this and their understanding of scripture are a disgrace to the gospel of Jesus Christ:

  24. Thank you for this post- you’ve put into words what I have been struggling to share with my more fundamentalist loved ones. For me, it’s the words and actions of Jesus Christ that guide me.

  25. The SAME folks who worship the Bible and think it inerrant are ALSO

    the same folks who read the U.S. Constitution and think it simple and literal NOT appreciating the fact that the Founding Fathers
    (who were closer aligned to Spinoza’s concept of God, especially Thomas Paine & Thomas Jefferson, likely Ben Franklin, but the man was so hard to pin down, ever the diplomat)…

    the FOUNDING FATHERS wrote a document that was designed to survive through time with the focus of abating Tyranny.

    The Bible, like the U.S. Constitution, requires the wisdom of the crowd, requires that everyone participate and present their interpretation and also be open to others’ interpretation.

    (dover1952 is correct on all counts)

    • Thanks. I hope you will enjoy that new law degree and will use it wisely and lovingly. Unfortunately, I have several once close friends who were changed by working as attorneys in the legal profession. They became distant, cynical, noncommunicative, and most of all—NUMB to humanity and humaneness. To the best of my knowledge, all were Christians and very nice people—at some early point in life.

      I think the problem was the fact that all persons have an equal right to quality representation in a court of law—and most lawyers I know would stay up until 3:00 a.m. to give the best representation possible to every client—including those clients who have done horrible things or are wanting to do horrible things.

      I am thinking about one lawyer right now who is representing a wiry little man who wants to bring an industrial facility to a rural village of extraordinary historical importance. Nearly everyone in the village is against it because they feel certain it will destroy their village, harm the historical landmarks, and discourage visitation by tourists. The man who wants to build the industrial facility has no sensitivity to that whatsoever—best I can tell. If I were his attorney, I would be unable to sleep at night if I were representing him and enabling his actions by doing so. The only way to sleep I guess is to numb yourself. But I think a lifetime of numbing yourself reeks profound changes in the heart and soul in many lawyers—and one reaches age 66 as a burned-out shell of a once kind and sensitive human being who once called themselves Christian.

      Much love to you—but be aware and be on guard against the numbness—and best of luck and fortune to you.

  26. Reblogged this on Exploring Alura and commented:
    As a girl who went from having vanilla basic non active beliefs in God to flipping a switch, receiving a call to action and feeling the divine fiery drive of passion and mission, I have distanced myself from the Bible.

    As a natural conveyor of God’s messages, I came to resent the book that was filled with so much good but was being used to cause so much separation under God. That book has been the cause of some serious atrocities against humanity! So I wanted nothing to do with it for the negative stigmata attached to it.

    Your post has positively corrected my perception. It is not the Holy Book that told people to kill people, it was some misguided soul misinterpreting Holy scripture and then getting other misguided souls to follow suit. Why should I turn my nose at good divine knowledge because a bunch of people chose ignorance over wisdom, “in the name of God”, and nobody since then has has the force of spirit to stand up and say “NO! You’re misguided.”?

    I shouldn’t and I won’t anymore thanks to this post. I should be using the Bible to guide my words and inspire my messages in positive and peaceful ways. Showing others how the message should have been taken with light and love rather than the black and red we currently read it with.

    Thank you for this powerful message. You have a wonderful mind and a beautiful way with words.

  27. I don’t think many are worshipping the Bible. Respecting the Bible, yes I see many who respect the Bible. I am one of them. Once again, I think the tone was used to disparage fundamentalists. I read the Bible often, and I have used its wisdom all
    my life. I’m thrilled to respect the Bible and I use the Bible as my constant book of Reference. I trust the words in the Bible over your words – It’s my choice to do so.

    • As I shared with a previous post:

      “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

      10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

      Leviticus 20:9-10

      When you got to a section like this for “reference”, what do you do? How do you navigate something like this? Is it still “God’s word”? Do you trust those words?

      • I have to be candid here John. I’m very disappointed to see you post a comment such as this, unless I’m mistaken I thought you were a Pastor? Who where the Levitical Law written for and why? Do you know the three categories of law in the Bible? Do you know the covenants and to whom they applied too? As a professed Pastor you should have the answers to these questions, NOT be asking them.

        My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. ~Jas 3:1

        • Rich,

          Exactly my point. You and others are pretty strident about adhering strictly and literally to words of Scripture regarding, for example, LGBT people, even ones that are used out of context, and which do not apply at all in the way you are using them, yet you bristle when other passages are suggested in the same way. You want to claim that a piece like this is an attack on fundamentalists, and then you’ll “un-fundamental” when it doesn’t suit your theology.

          There is a great deal in Scripture that cannot and should not be used literally to enforce beliefs, because their context, writing style, audience, and cultural baggage makes doing that irresponsible and dangerous. I agree wholeheartedly.

      • “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. ~Jas 3:1

        Ah, Rich has now thrown down the infamous ecclesiastical “double-double dog dare you.”


        I have to be candid here Rich. The Levitical laws were written for a bunch of primitive, bare-bottomed Jews wandering around in a desert—who were party to an Old Testament covenant that never applied to a Gentile like you and does not apply to a Gentile like you right now. That covenant has now gone away forever as far as you are concerned. All three categories of Old Testament laws (including the so-called moral laws and 10 commandments) were fulfilled by Jesus upon his resurrection—meaning they are no longer in force as laws per se. They have been replaced by spiritual principles set forth by Jesus himself in the New Testament as part of the new covenant. All those Old Testament laws were given to the children of Israel for one primary purpose—so they would try to obey them, fail miserably at trying, and realize in that misery that they needed something else better—Jesus and forgiveness by grace—which would be presented to them and all other men in the future.

        I thought you were a follower of Jesus Christ Rich. You should know all that by now. Do you ever read your Bible—or just thump it?

  28. John 1 says In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and walked among us.

    2Tim 3:16 says all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

    Clearly, I do not need to find a way to squeeze the bible into the fourth person of the trinity when the Word… is literally God.

    And no erroneous author, there really aren’t many discrepancies between believers about the bible. The fundamental disagreements come when people lack faith in it and God Himself. You say God couldn’t possibly have created the entire world in a week. You say God couldn’t have made a flood that large, he couldn’t have parted a sea. Well author I promise you that a God who says He did but didn’t because these were some symbolic fables like some attest, certainly did not act as a sacrificial lamb for our sins. The bible is good, and is able to be trusted. Please know that you, as a blogger, have a voice and are a teacher, and you will be judged more harshly in heaven. And I tell you that using your blog to teach inerrencies to lead weak believers astray and directionless is a horrible deed that serves no purpose.

    • The Word is the “logos” of God. It is not the written word. It speaks to the divinity of Jesus. The word became flesh speaks of Jesus, not of the Bible. That is an incorrect application of John 1

      The Bible is “god breathed”. Everything is. You are, I am. The world is. It doesn’t make them Divine does it?

      The Bible is not God. The Bible doesn’t claim that, even if you choose to.

    • Matt said : “And I tell you that using your blog to teach inerrencies to lead weak believers astray and directionless is a horrible deed that serves no purpose.”

      I think you meant “errencies” or “errors” Matt. Now you drop the old Romans 14 bomb—perhaps the most misunderstood scripture in all of Fundyland—one that is frequently twisted by fundies to declare themselves to be strong Christians while simultaneously declaring the entire rest of Christendom on Earth to be weak Christians.

      In fact, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are the weak Christians to whom this scripture directly speaks. Your unwarranted and ignorant simplification of scripture, your preoccupation with moralism and law, your living in abject personal fear of God, your desire to separate from the rest of humanity, your preoccupation with things like not dancing, your intense concentration on self, your incessant clinging to gross ignorance about science, and your failure to understand the concept of Christian liberty show clearly that you are just that—weak Christians. And you are part of a religious system that is designed to ensure that you remain forever weak throughout your lives. As my old SBC pastor often said years ago, “You are so focused on your salvation and Heaven that you have become of no earthly good.”

      Years ago, I read the most wonderful commentary on Romans 14. It was written by a respected Christian theologian. He said that the Apostle Paul wanted to make sure that strong Christians would lead the universal church—and bring along weak Christians like you so you can be taught to leave the milk bottle and pacifier of incipient faith behind. He then went into an extensive discussion about how dangerous and awful it would be for the Christian faith to be taken over and run by a large group of weak Christians. He did not come right out and say it, but I could tell he meant, “Wouldn’t it be awful if those ignorant Christian fundamentalists were to take over the universal church and run it as their own exclusive territory.” It would be like turning a baby loose as a “Big Rig” driver on Interstate 40.

      John Pavlovitz and most of the people who post here are “classic” strong Christians in the Romans 14 sense. The have enough power of discernment to recognize spiritual bullshit when they see it. They are not leading weak believers astray. They are leading them to a deeper and more transcendent understanding of Jesus and the overall gospel message. John is challenging them to leave their milk bottles behind and eat the solid food of the kingdom of God. Focusing on bringing people to a deeper understanding of Jesus the Christ and encouraging people to follow him in spirit and in truth is not leading “weak believers astray and directionless.”

      People who are scared to death of God and living in constant terror of what He might do to them one day—constantly sifting the scriptures for new “apps” to protect themselves from an angry and capricious God—and responding to the altar call to get resaved every other month—is the very definition of a weak Christian. “Your skirt is one inch too high above the knee.” This is the sort of weak nonsense that is the very definition of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. One day you people are going to wake up and discover that the SELF is not the only human on planet Earth. And worst of all, in the depths of your ignorance and self-immolation, you make yourselves look so silly and repulsive to the rest of mankind that you drive—literally drive—millions of people away from Jesus Christ—people who would otherwise come to Jesus. No my friend. They are not running from conviction by Jesus or the Holy Spirit because of their sins. They are running from the crazy behavior of the fundie people who claim to follow Jesus.

  29. For whatever reason I could not respond to your comment on my post. That said….

    Let’s cut the chase. . . . are moral laws absolute? Yes or no?

    • There is no “chase” to cut to, Rich.

      Stop trying to argue people into believing the way you believe. If you want to believe that way, fine. I don’t need you to agree with this piece. I don’t need your validation.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective and opinion. They are no more or less valuable than any other. That’s the great thing about all of it. We all get to participate.

      • John my issue is that you are leading people in the wrong direction. If we are to accept the Bible as an authoritative text for Christianity, then you are wrong not because of what I think, but because of what the Bible says. Try as you may, you cannot reconcile your beliefs without ripping out large portions of the Bible in the very process. The problem with all of this is your position as a Pastor. I asked you a very simple question above, but I know you can’t answer it without putting yourself into a trick box.

        I’ll leave you with two final points. The angels in Isaiah 6:3 do not say Love, Love, Love do they;)

        The last step in God grace for a country and I suspect an individuals life is when we start calling evil good and good evil. Homosexuality is a sin period and as a Pastor you have a responsibility to Gods word. Condoning sexual sin and not calling it for what it is is a BIG mistake on YOUR part.

        I suspect this will be a seed thrown on rocky ground, but hey I did what the Lord would have wanted me to do.

        Matthew 10:14

        • I’m doing what the LORD wants me to do as well, Rich. I don’t expect you to understand, because you’ve spent so much time believing bad teaching and fear-based theology, and your heart has been hardened to actual human beings.

          All your talk of “trick boxes” and insisting on answering questions to your satisfaction, is just failing to acknowledge that you really want your interpretation of Scripture to be mine and everyone else’s. I’m sorry It isn’t.

          I have great peace with my ministry, and with the process I’ve gone through to come to this understanding and application of Scripture, and that’s why I speak and will continue to.

          Thanks for reading. Keep up doing what you feel God calls you to. That’s all any of us can do.

      • Isn’t your blog trying to convince others of your argument? You are not at all merely sharing a perspective. Don’t fool yourself.

    • The answer is NO Rich. They are not absolute. Jesus himself—in scripture—was the original inventor of what some call “situational ethics” today. There is far more to true morality than “I did what the law said” vs “I did not do what the law said.”—and it really does depend on the circumstances of a situation.

      And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

      2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

      3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

      4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

      5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

      6 And they could not answer him again to these things.

      Jesus presents two situations here—both violating the 4th Commandment and other more specific laws against working on the Sabbath Day. Theoretically, it was wrong to pull the ox or ass out of the well—a really hard and laborious job or to work as a physician on the Sabbath. Nowhere here does Jesus say that these laws are ABSOLUTE. Indeed, they are not absolute because Jesus supports pulling the ox or ass out of the well, and he defiantly heals the man with dropsy on the Sabbath. Basically, Jesus is saying that if an Old Testament law conflicts with doing the loving thing in a particular situation—then the law loses. It is not absolute.

      In yet another scripture, Jesus emphasizes this by going on to say that the Old Testament laws were created to serve mankind rather than for mankind to blindly and indiscriminately serve them. There is a good reason for this. An ABSOLUTIST approach to law necessarily ends up in misuse of the law, abuse of the law, and gross injustices being inflicted on innocent people with extenuating circumstances. Jesus knew this. Any sane and right-thinking person would.

      I know the thought of living in a world without ABSOLUTES and TOTAL CONFIDENCE scares the Hell out of you Rich. That is not my fault. It is not the fault of Jesus. It is not the fault of John Pavlovitz. The fault lies within yourself and in what must have been a sometimes scary and uncertain childhood long ago. I empathize with that. The answer is not absolutes. The answer is to love Jesus and follow. Take what He said seriously. Do what He said seriously.

  30. I am so glad there are Christians out there that put Christ over just what their scripture says about Christ! From my understanding, the way Christianity is supposed to work is that you’re supposed to use the Bible as a way of understanding and coming to build a relationship with God, with Christ. The Bible is a tool, not a deity to be worshipped and not the end all to be all of the faith in general. Therefore it seems to me that if you are going to follow Christ, you need to follow the teachings of the PERSON, not just what a 2000 year old book says. Jesus, after all, didn’t say that the only way to the Father was through the Bible – he said it was through him, and only him. Kinda says a lot, I think, about what God intends people to do with His words, right?

    I am sick and tired of seeing fundamentalists use and misuse a religion that is supposed to uplift and open people’s hearts to compassion. Why would a person ever put a book, which was transcribed by human beings and may even have been written vaguely on purpose (perhaps God wants us to come to our own conclusions? I bet the fundies never thought of that one, did they? 😉 ), before the very power that their faith is all about? Why wouldn’t you, if you are a Christian, allow God to speak to you in His own way? There’s MULTIPLE ways God speaks to people in the Bible – through the Burning Bush, through prayer, through direct discussion, through Christ, etc. If the Bible is truly the word of God (and in I assume most everyone here’s opinion, it is), then clearly all of the above ways pointed out that God speaks to people in the Bible are valid. Clearly, He wants us to share our own experiences with Him and grow our communities from it, to treat others with kindness and to be open of heart AND mind. THAT is what God is, openness and a desire to understand – a very, very human desire at that. That compassion and desire to learn from others and about others is what God wants, and it just astonishes me that some people cannot understand or accept this.

    Therefore, God doesn’t JUST want us to take the Bible at face value – He wants us to use it as a guide, a way to direct ourselves through our own spiritual journey. He wants us to take the teachings in it, and apply them to our own lives in our own ways, so that we can spiritually grow and form a relationship with Him in a way according to our nature. If that relationship is through another set of scripture and we know Him as Allah, so be it. If that relationship is through the Torah, so be it. If that relationship is through inner reflection and deep thought, or through exploring the marvels of the world without a religious doctrine lens, so be it. God has a plan for everyone, and if that’s the case, then He clearly intends us to use His word as a way of helping us understand that plan only. It’s just one of many, many things on this earth that we have to spiritually grow, understand, and learn, and by taking scripture at pure face value we go directly AGAINST that. Other religious beliefs are not evil, and God never wanted us to see them as evil or wrong. They are just another way of humans trying to comprehend God and find a relationship with Him, and like every other human-created ideal, it can be taken way, way too far.

    God put us on earth with a brain and free will. Clearly, He wants us to use those things to make our world a better place, otherwise we wouldn’t have them to begin with. 🙂

  31. Matt. The Bible is not literally God. That is not what the Disciple John means. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate and existing entities apart from the Bible. John is saying that the Jews had just the words of God alone at first—but then the One who spoke those words showed up in the flesh and walked among us. This understanding is not heresy on the part of John Pavlovitz. This is the understanding of this scripture that is taught in virtually every major School of Divinity and Seminary in the United States outside of the Christian fundamentalist Looney Bin Schools. This is standard Christian theology here in the United States and around much of the world.

    2 Tim 3:16 says all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

    This scripture says it is useful to the Christian. It says nothing about the Bible being “inerrant” in the sense that you mean, and it does not address all of the major errors and contradictions in the text of the Bible that faithful Christian scholars have long known and acknowledged as being present in the Bible. This too is not John Pavlovitz’s heresy. It is well-known theological knowledge throughout the Christian world—just not inside the Christian fundamentalist Looney Bin.

    There are extraordinary discrepancies among honest and faithful believers and groups of honest and faithful believers about what various passages in the Bible mean and which ones of them are most important. Where do you think all of the different Christian denominations, splinter groups, and parachurch organizations came from? They are the primary result of all these scriptural disagreements and separate scriptural emphases.

    I am only going to say this to you one time Matt—and I want you to listen and listen good. I am a professional scientist. The Earth and our universe are not 5,000 years old. We have American Indian remains going back way beyond 10,000 years old—and those remains are ubiquitous and everywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

    Evolution is real and goes back at least 600,000,000 years on this Earth and probably much longer. Death came into the world for animals long before any humans we ever here. The current picture on human evolution in Africa and other parts of the world is clear. Human beings were not created in a garden with a talking snake—and it was not between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Iraq. It was in East Africa. The evidence for all of this is highly detailed and overwhelming in its volume—with no contradictory evidence. All of the ideas presented on websites like “Answers in Genesis” have been soundly refuted by modern science over and over and over again—and many of these websites contain outright lies designed to deceive fundies into continuing support for a hopelessly lost fundie cause that has no truth in it.

    We do not think. We do not hypothesize. We do not theorize. We do not imagine that the science is correct. WE KNOW FOR ABSOLUTE CERTAIN THAT IT IS CORRECT. And yes, in response to the question that God asked of Job’s friend, we WERE there when God laid the foundations of the world and did much of the actual, real creating—and we know how He went about actually doing it. There are more ways to be in a past place other than being born there 600,000,000 years ago.

    Finally, there was no worldwide Noah Flood. That kind of upheaval on such a massive scale leaves behind distinctive and unmistakable geological evidence—and no—the Grand Canyon is not it. There is no such evidence—period.

    If you were to quit listening to that ignorant preacher of yours—the one with the day job down at the feed store— and actually take some science courses that show all of this science inexcruciating detail—you might finally understand why people are fleeing your churches. They are fleeing because the ignorance that resides there and is praised there makes a mockery of the truth—and the truth is what Jesus is all about. Watch this:

  32. Don’t know if this is the right forum, but since your talking about the Bible, I have a question about a text Mark1:15 :The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
    What was the gospel (good news) Jesus was preaching? He hadn’t died for anyone sins yet, so what good news was he asking people to believe?

    • I can help a little bit with that I think. It is just my opinion. You may have another opinion. I think the good news actually has three major aspects:

      1) The quandary here may have something to do with the nature of writing and literature at the time when Mark was writing. Ancient views of literature, how literature is written, for what purpose it is written, and how you write it were very different from our modern English/journalistic views,

      2) The conventional message of atonement was probably already in the teachings of Jesus in some form, although in the four gospels Jesus does not talk about in the manner that the later disciples and apostles did in the writings—which id fairly clear and extensive. There is also the question of whether the 12 disciples were picking up on it when they were still with Jesus in the flesh. With the possible exception of Peter, their skulls were pretty dense and hard to penetrate, as Jesus often makes clear. Mark may be making an, “Ah!!! I have come full circle and see fully what Jesus meant now”—and be emphasizing that here.

      3) The second aspect of the good news is set forth in the mission statement of Jesus near the beginning of his ministry—and He states it in his own words:

      The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to proclaim good news to the poor.
      He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
      to set the oppressed free,
      to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

      The message here is that you are not alone here on Earth because “I AM” walks with you now through life—and I care—and some things are going to be different in this joint from now on. It may not happen overnight—but it is going to happen. In scripture we are invited to be part of it and help Jesus make it come true.

      4) The third aspect of the good news is that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It is a direct derivative of No. 3 above. Here is someone who can explain it with great eloquence:

  33. I never, ever agree 100% with anything I read that opines about matters of faith and religion. In keeping with that, there are a few things you said that I feel were thiiiiis close to going too far. But there’s also so much truth to it, and I really enjoyed reading the article. A friend linked me to it after I blogged yesterday about how so many Christians are becoming “Pharisees” over science.

    I absolutely love the Bible. I absolutely believe it’s the word of God. I absolutely believe it’s truth. I absolutely do NOT believe finite-minded mankind should cling so tightly to their interpretations of it that they happily condemn to hell anyone who doesn’t agree. This is when we go from faith to religion–and Jesus battled the spirit of religion more than anything. The Bible is the foundation of my faith. But if I take my interpretations, reasoning, and insights and impose them on others with a “This is the only way or you’re going to hell” mentality, then that’s when faith degrades into religion–and that’s when we start fighting our brothers instead of the real enemy of our souls.

    To me, the beauty of our infinite Lord is that those same words written thousands of years ago can and should mean something totally different as humanity grows and learns more. New knowledge never makes the Bible obsolete–but it definitely makes certain interpretations of it obsolete. Hence why I really enjoyed this article. =) I think some take it too far and say the Bible is outdated and irrelevant, which it definitely isn’t. But too many go to the other extreme and think their interpretation IS the Bible.

    Personally, I love nothing more than realizing that God is so much bigger than my own understanding of Him. The Bible is His word. But He is more. No words can ever contain Him–which is, of course, why He sent the Word.

  34. Hello John,

    Great post,I came to your blog after this post was shared by a Facebook group that I recently liked called “After Church”. The title caught my attention as it is also something that I’ve been noticing regarding the Bible and particularly the Evangelical view of it. I absolutely agree that the Bible should not be worshipped, and should be used in conjunction with all the other resources that God has provided us.

    I had a questio/concern though,

    Although I agree that there are a multitude of ways to interpret the Scriptures, I do however believe that there WAS an original point that the biblical authors made when they wrote the books, and that our job when we study the Bible is to try and discern that. Maybe I misread your post, but it sounds like you’re encouraging that we just assume a relativist standpoint on biblical exegesis: “That interpretation works for you and not for me, and that’s ok.” I don’t claim to have the key to all the knowledge in the Bible, but I do know what it sounds like when someone takes a verse out of context to suit their own agenda/needs (i.e. eisegesis). But based on what you argue, me pointing that out to someone is just as problematic.

    I was wondering if you can clarify that? If an individual has a pretty good understanding of biblical exegesis, and knows how to apply those principles (i.e. being aware of context, culture, genre, audience etc), should we not point out error in someone’s interpretation?


    P.S. ignore the fundies and keep up the good work.

  35. I shared this post and a friend of mine wrote the following about John’s post.
    Very enlightening.

    My Friend: The underlying fault here is many conflating the Word of God (Rhema) with the Bible. Think about it, for the majority of church history, Christians did not own a collection of books called the Bible. Only became an household item in the last 3 centuries.

    Me: What is Rhema?

    My Friend: When Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every ‘WORD’ that proceeds from the mouth of GOD,” he was using one of 3 Greek words found the New Testament; Logos, Rhema and Graphe. In John 1:1-3 we see in the beginning was the word and the word was with GOD and the word was GOD…the Greek word used here to describe Jesus was Logos.

    The other word, Graphe is just the written text. e.g. the text written in the Bible.

    The third is Rhema, which is what Jesus used for proceeding from the mouth of GOD. (This word is often “heard” in prayer. That is why Jesus prayed always and said “men ought to always pray”, as opposed to “men ought to always read”)

    What many people do incorrectly is conflate graphe for rhema. That is what the John Pavlovitz is describing above.

    He then shared the link about all the translations of the Good Book.
    Very informative.
    I keep saying, if we Christians are going to live our lives around our faith and a book, don’t we really want to know more about it, as in the history of it, and all the translations etc.etc. From the beginning to the end.
    Don’t just be spoon-fed your beliefs. 🙂
    My Faith is carried and felt thru the Holy Spirit….showing Jesus’s Character to all who come in contact with me. Period. That is how I see winning hearts and minds for Jesus………Love God, Love others…Ten Commandments….
    It is really not hard. 🙂


  36. The following is only half true:

    The Bible we do have, is an incredibly complex library of writings, culled from thousands of years and multiple, very human writers; books that cross genres and native languages. Understanding the cultural layers piled upon the words over time, and finding the irreducible core and practical application in any given passage is a monumental challenge, even for those who spend the majority of their lifetimes deeply devoted to study.

    For if the above description of the Bible is true, then the writings of those people from the myriad of cultures are:

    1) not significantly different writings of other religions
    2) attempts by men to discover God and thus its study should be classified as spiritual anthropology

    I fully agree that the sentiments expressed by those who say:

    The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.

    should be summed up as worshipping the Bible because those who say or display that message are saying as much about themselves as they are about the Bible if not more. In addition, yes, Jesus Christ is the Word revealed, but He himself talked about the written Word. In addition, without the written Word, the New Testament will reveal as much about the writers as well as the subject of their writing if not more so. And distinguishing between the two will not only become impossible, it will leave us in constant doubt as to who Christ is.

    There is simply no reason to demote the Scriptures simply because some like to gain personal significance by riding on its coattails. And what’s really at stake here is the direction of the God-man communication. If the Scriptures are God’s Word, then the direction of that communication is downward and the Scriptures are revelatory. If the Scriptures are man’s attempts to discover and describe God, then the direction of that communication is upward and the Scriptures become just another container for man’s attempt to find God.

  37. BTW, I have an error in my last note. It should read that I don’t agree that the sentiments of those who say the Bible says is, I believe it, and that settles it, should be summed up as worshiping the Bible because …

  38. This is an attack on scripture…indeed an attack on God Himself. God can no more be separated from scripture than a man can be separated from his own words. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). The bible is not ink on paper. The bible is a body of eternal truths. The bible is the mind of God. Consider this quote by Gordon H. Clark:

    “In this may be anticipated the relation of logic to the Scripture. First of all, Scripture, the written words of the Bible, is the mind of God. What is said in Scripture is God’s thought. In contemporary religious polemics, the Biblical view of the Bible, the historic position of the Reformation, or–what is the same thing–the doctrine of plenary and verbal inspiration is castigated as Bibliolatry. The liberals accuse the Lutherans and Calvinists of worshiping a book instead of worshiping God. Apparently they think that we genuflect to the Bible on the pulpit, and they deride us for kissing the ring of a paper pope…This caricature stems from their materialistic turn of mind–a materialism that may not be apparent in other discussions–but which comes to the surface when they direct their fire against fundamentalism. They think of the Bible as a material book with paper contents and a leather binding. That the contents are the thoughts of God, expressed in God’s own words, is a position to which they are so invincibly antagonistic that they cannot even admit it to be the position of a fundamentalist.”

    • I do not buy the argument. You are asking me to believe that your post above is actually you whereas the REAL YOU is sitting in an easy chair in front of the TV or shopping at the supermarket right now. Fundamentalists are famous for coming up with twisted BS arguments to support whichever piece of crap they choose to believe at any given moment—like David Barton coming up with impromptu theology as to why Jesus is opposed to the minimum wage for the working poor. I saw that twisted little exercise unfold right before my eyes. You decide which piece of evil that arises in your hearts that you desperately want to support and then run to the Bible to see what you can twist to make it look supported. You are not fooling anyone here. We got your number.

  39. This is article is funny if you want to discard God’s word as just some tool that we should read. Let me ask you this writer. How do you know that Jesus is God? That the Father is the father? That there is a Holy Spirit? Is it not from reading the bible?

    You can not dismiss what you want from the bible just cause you do not agree with it or you can not fathom the possibility. If you are to do that you are creating your own god.

    Writer isn’t the reason that there are so many different belief systems is cause there are people ho are unlearned reading the bible and coming up with their own interpretation.

    According to God
    1 Corinthians 14:33(NASB)

    33 for God is not a God of confusion but of [a]peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

    God did not make his writings confusing. It is humans own interest and desire to sin that turns God’s word to be “confusing”. If people read the scriptures for what they say we would have minimal differences.

    The other issue with the believers or church systems is they hold certain scriptures as more important then others. When the devil tempted Jesus he used scripture on Jesus to tempt him. But, Jesus answered the devil with scripture. It is not that the scripture that Jesus answered was more powerful then the devils and it isn’t that the scriptures contradict each other. When faced when with two scriptures we must obey both. Not just pick one to obey. If Christians did this alone there would be no problems with the scriptures.

    • It’s still not God. I’m sorry. It isn’t. It’s all the things I say that it is in the post.

      It’s not Divinity. It’s meant to be studied, read, meditated on, and obeyed where there is clarity. It is not meant to be worshiped.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Sorry, I just disagree The word is Jesus. Jesus is the word of God. John makes this clear in his gospel. Jesus was brought to this earth so we would know him through his words. All the words in the bible are inspired by the Holy Spirit himself.

        You don’t accept the Word of God is like rejecting Jesus himself. Study what you are saying. Here is a list of just some scriptures saying the opposite of what your piece is saying.

        Hebrews 4:12

        For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

        Matthew 4:4

        But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

        Luke 8:21

        But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

        Luke 11:28

        But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

        John 8:47

        He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

        Acts 6:7

        The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

        Acts 20:32

        And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

        1 Corinthians 1:18

        For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

        My last scripture there are thousands by the way.

        John 12:48

        He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

        The word will judge you on the last day. I would take it very seriously if I were you.

  40. John, I love this piece so very much. You are right that the bible itself asks us not to “deify the Bible as Divinity itself”. People in the bible have dreams and visions (from God) that contradict earlier beliefs. We are meant to always be open to God speaking. Change and evolving ways of being are how God created our world-in the image of God! I think those that say they are spiritual and not religious are those who know that God is still speaking and that we can connect with God in ways other than the bible. AND I love the bible and it’s messages. It is certainly a way to hear God speaking, it just isn’t the only way. Wow, thanks for taking this subject on. I always love your ability to speak to the truth.

  41. Sad, mad, and heart broken… there is so very much that could be said to refute this foolish article…but as I have read many of these ‘supportive’ comments I see that it would be ‘pearls before swine’. Those who have begun to refute this article are painted as ‘less than knowledgeable…at least, less than the author’…hypocritical to say the least!!

    I see a constant theme of pride and arrogance hiding behind carefully crafted blasphemy. No humble submission to God’s sovereignty over their lives…IE, I will tell YOU why WE can’t believe God or His word.

    At the end of the day this I know to be TRUE…all foolish and blasphemes attacks on Holy Scripture will fade away. But, as history has and continues to prove, God is faithful to His word and proves His word regardless of what puny, arrogant and rebellious man may say or do.

    Come Lord Jesus, come!

  42. The problem with this blog is that it doesn’t define how people ‘worship’ scripture that is different than Jesus did.

    Jesus quoted scripture a lot. He deemed it authoritative. He often said to people that they were in error because they “didn’t understand the scriptures” or were “ignorant” of what scripture said. He never accused anyone of taking it too seriously.

    The issue isn’t that people ‘worship’ scripture. The issue is that like the Pharisees, people often add on to what scripture says, and treat their own additions as if they were equal to scripture.

    When we accuse people of “worshiping” scripture for taking it seriously, we’re devaluing scripture. Instead, we need to encourage people, as John said, not to treat the bible as a simple book. We need to remind them that their interpretations are not equal with the Word of God, and on some issues and passages we need to be willing to leave room for differences of opinion where scripture is silent or unclear.

    • I largely agree with you Dan. However, you cannot tell a person like David Schramm (above). He thinks the Bible is simple as a Superman comic book and that it very simply says what it says. Interpretation never enters into the picture because the Holy Spirit tells the fundie reader what the scripture means and how simple it is as he reads it so very simply and literally. Jesus is the lamb of God means that Mary had a little lamb. In my opinion, the people who do this with the Bible are quite simply idiots, and I will stand on that with Jesus at my side until the world is on fire.

  43. Pingback: Why the Bible Shouldn't be Worshipped - Christian Forums

  44. years ago i had a blog (climbing out) and i touched on a lot of things (current events, life, faith)………i wrote a post once entitled ‘the dangers of bibidolotry’……soooo, obviously i agree with you 🙂 great piece!!

  45. I’m curious, what exactly is your position on the inspiration, the inerrancy, the infalibility, the perspecuity, and the sufficiency of Scripture? I hold to these and don’t worship the Bible.

    • John will probably not answer your question. I can give you my opinion:

      1) If by the word inspire, you mean that ancient writers sat down with a quill, ink, and parchment, allowed God to put them in a hypnotic trance, and then God personally grabbed their writing hand and moved it across the parchment laying down each precise word and item of punctuation himself to say what God wanted to say, then NO. I do not believe this is what God did, and I think you would be hard-pressed to find any statement within the Bible saying that this is how it was done. If you believe this, it is something purely human your religious tradition has imposed on the Bible from outside. My position is that the ancient writers wrote the books of the Bible, and God somehow managed to get the things important to him into the scriptures along the way. Therefore, some portions of the Bible are God and some portions are of men—and the Holy Spirit helps nonfundie Christians discern which is of God and which is of men.

      2) The Bible is not factually inerrant. It is riddled with factual errors and contradictions, which have been demonstrated and listed many times by faithful Christian writers and theologians. Fundie attempts to reconcile the errors with assorted bullshit arguments are just that—assorted bullshit arguments put up in a desperate attempt to do what fundies do best—deny truth when it sits right in front of their noses.

      3) Infallible for doing what? Everything? It totally fails to properly and factually explain how creation happened—but then again—if you really understood the Bible you would know that this is not what those Genesis passages were trying to do to begin with. The Bible fails as a historical and scientific document.

      4) Perspicuity? The Bible is not written in simple, plain language so a half-literate fundie can sit under his fig tree, read it through, and come away having understood it all clearly, rightly, and properly. The Old Testament scriptures were meant to be read by educated priests who delved deeply into the text and then presented it to the people. The Bible means different things to different people. Everyone who reads the Bible interprets what it says with a fallible human brain, which is why even fundie preachers disagree bitterly over the meanings of some passages. Jesus says that we must knock. Jesus says that we must seek. Sitting on your behind and doing a shallow, surficial reading of scripture on the assumption that it is simple and clear is the lazy man’s approach to faith. It is neither knocking nor seeking as Jesus commands. However, I am not surprised that you would disagree on that point. The Apostle Paul said that he saw through a glass darkly. Fundies are the only people I know on this Earth who believe that they see through that same glass with 100 percent clarity. It takes extraordinary spiritual pride and arrogance to take a position like that, and Jesus is going to cut all of you down to size one of these days and humble you greatly. I just hope He will let me be a spectator when it happens—you know—watching all the tears, wails, and gnashing of teeth by millions of people who were so cocksure of their rightness with God—brought to humbleness and a sense of despair. But I would do something for you, that you people would never do for me. I would say, “Hey Jesus. Please forgive them and let them go in peace. They were just a bunch of deceived rhubarbs who did not know what they were doing with spiritual things>”

      5) Sufficiency? Sufficient for what? If you mean that the words of scripture are all that mankind ever needs to know about the spiritual and what God wants of people—NO. Sometimes God shows up to tell people special messages—like say in a burning bush on a mountain top. Sometimes he sends messages to people by angels. He communicates to people still in many ways, just as He did in the days of old—and he has always done it because what He wanted to say was special, important, and outside of the current writings of the time. Only fundies have the arrogance to stand before God and say, “No God. You are not allowed to communicate with human beings outside the pages of the Bible.”

      But, of course, you believe all the crazy things you do because you have an ignorant preacher who believes ignorant things because he attended some goober educational institution like the Homer Hicks College of the Bible—a man who would likely flunk out of The Duke University School of Divinity inside three months—you know—a place where you have to study really hard to pass and no one is going to give you a free ride just because some clodhoppers put their clammy hands on your head one Sunday morning in church.

      Just sayin’.

      • just to let you know, I REALLY have done my homework (figuratively and literally. I am taking this from a paper that I have written a few weeks ago. While I will concede that the Bible is not God, God wrote the Bible and I worship the God who wrote the Bible. And yes, I really do believe the following!

        Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is breathed out by God…”. The word used here for “breathed out by God” is θεόπνευστος. According to Greek scholar Spiros Zhodiates, θεόπνευστος in the context means “prompted by God, divinely inspired”. [1] This is where the idea of the doctrine of the inspiration comes from. I decided to do some research in some theological journals to find out what people smarter than I am are writing in the modern area. I came across an article in the very first edition of the Themelios theological journal where J.I. Packer wrote, “The significance of biblical inspiration lies in the fact that the inspired material stands for all time as the definitive expression of God’s mind and will, His knowledge of reality, and His thoughts, wishes, and intentions regarding it.” [2] In other words, what we have bound between the covers and labeled “Holy Bible” is EXACTLY what God intended to communicate.
        The Lutheran theologian Richard Lenski, in commenting on 2 Timothy 3:16, says, ““All Scripture” is “writing,” γραφή. The pen traces words and combines these into sentences and paragraphs. These words convey the thought. Erase the words, and the thought disappears. … This is Verbal Inspiration. It is before us on every written page of the Book. There is no other divine inspiration.”[3] The verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture says that the Bible was written by both God and man.[4] The Apostle Peter wrote, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) The Second century church father Ireneaus once said, ““The Scriptures indeed are perfect, forasmuch as they are spoken by the Word of God and by His Spirit.”[5] This leads me to believe that the view of the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture is the historical orthodox position of the Christian Church since at least the 100’s AD.
        Jesus understood that the books of the Old Testament had been written by men (i.e Matthew 24:15; John 5:46).[6] Jesus also taught that Scripture was the Word of God (John 10:35).[7] Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, in writing for Tabletalk Magazine, said, “Jesus undoubtedly believed that the words of the Old Testament text were God’s very words, and, given the evidence of His deity (in particular His resurrection from the dead), we maybe confident that His view of the Old Testament text is the correct one.”[8]
        Was Jesus right? Can the Old Testament be inspired Scripture? I decided to look up the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible for answers on this. In researching this topic, I’ve found that when the prophets said such phrases like “Thus says the LORD” or “The word of the LORD came to me”, these men invoking divine inspiration for their oral communication.[9] When I take a look into the writings of Moses, a constant refrain in the Torah (or Pentateuch) is “The Lord spoke to Moses” (i.e Exodus 20:1; Leviticus 1:1; 8:9; Deuteronomy 1:3).[10] There are some books, however, do not have such clear indications of Divine inspiration. So, I will have to ask myself, “Are books like Esther and Song of Solomon inspired Scripture despite such lack of such indications?” I read Dr. Norman Geisler in the subject and this is what I found in his book, A General Introduction to the Bible. In that book, Geisler offers three explanations, First, each of these books are part of a given section. In other words, even though certain books may not have explicit claims for inspiration, they do not need to since other books in their section have made claim that they are inspired.[11] Second, just because these particular books do not have direct statements saying that they are coming from God, some actually show what God said.[12] Third, some of the books were traditionally attributed to be written by authors of other inspired books. Solomon had God-given wisdom (1 Kings 4:29) and was accredited to writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.[13] Another case would be the books of 1 &2 Kings. Traditionally, these books were attributed to Jeremiah since he has prophetic credentials (Jeremiah 1:4, 17).[14]
        However, there is an interesting caveat to the discussion of Biblical inspiration that I have found and I need to discuss. If I look at the context of how γραφή is used in 2 Timothy 3:16, I would have to conclude just on basic hermeneutical principles that γραφή is referring to are the Old Testament books of the Bible. So, this begs the question of the inspiration of the New Testament for me. Are the New Testament books inspired Scripture like the Old Testament? It is known in 2 Peter 3:15-16 that Peter considered the writings of Paul to be on par with Scripture. Paul in 1 Timothy 5:18 refers to a statement from Jesus Christ that was recorded by Luke as Scripture.[15] So, it is clear that the New Testament authors understood that their writings were on par with the Old Testament. Even Paul thought that his own words were Scripture according to 1 Thessalonians 2:13.[16] On the nigh before Jesus Christ was crucified, Jesus told his disciples in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth and bring the things Jesus said into remembrance. We know Jesus was telling the truth because the gospels are a recording of what the disciples witnessed what Jesus said and did with accuracy.[17] Even Luke mentioned in writing to Theophilus that he recorded everything Jesus said and did in Acts 1:1-3. With the exception of Hebrews, the thought that twenty-six of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament have their origins from the disciples of Jesus lead me to believe that the New Testament itself is inspired scripture.[18] This reminds me of something John Piper said in a sermon he preached on Acts 2:14-21. He said, “Today the New Testament stands where the apostles stood. Their authority is exercised today through their writings and the writings of their close associates like Luke and Mark and James (the Lord’s brother). So, in the same way Paul made apostolic teaching the final authority in those days, so we make the apostolic teaching the final authority in our day. That means the New Testament is our authority.”[19]
        In terms of inerrancy, I believe that the Bible is without error. Henry Clarence Thiessen says that the Bible is inerrant “… in all that it affirms, whether in historical, scientific, moral or doctrinal maters.”[20] When Christians say that the Bible is inerrant, we are not saying that the actual Bible versions themselves are inerrant. As Dr. Wayne Grudem writes, “The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.”[21] While this doctrine is not explicitly taught in the Scriptures, I find it somewhat easy to prove with the following syllogism. The Bible is the Word of God. God cannot err, therefore, the Bible is without error.[22] As I have good chunk of this paper to explain what it means and how Scripture is inspired, I will focus much of my attention on how God cannot error.
        From what I know about the character and nature of God, the author of Hebrews says that God cannot lie. (Hebrews 6:18) Paul also echoes this sentiment in Titus 1:2. Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Even Scripture says that God cannot deny or disown himself. The only conclusion I can come up with in light of proving the previous premises of the syllogism is that the Bible cannot err.

        I hope you actually look into this further. There are awesome websites like The Poached Egg, Always Be Ready, Stand to Reason, and the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry where you can do your own research. But Since you want to criticise me for taking the Bible too literal and worship it, I know that the Biblical Jesus said to love and pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44). And so, since you said I seem like I am a nice guy (and by this point you’ve thought I’ve lost my mind!), is there anything I can pray for you for?

        [1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
        [2] James Packer, “Hermeneutics and Biblical Authority,” Themelios: Volume 1, No. 1, 1975 (1975): 4.
        [3] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937), 844–845.
        [4] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume One: Introduction, Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002), 429.
        [5] As quoted in J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), xv.
        [6] Moisés Silva and Merrill Chapin Tenney, The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Q-Z (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 2009), 359.
        [7] Ibid.
        [8] Rod Rosenbladt, “Thus Saith the Lord?” in Tabletalk Magazine, April 2002: No New Messages (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2002), 9.
        [9] Moisés Silva and Merrill Chapin Tenney, The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Q-Z (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 2009), 359.
        [10] Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1974), 30.
        [11] Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 69.
        [12] Ibid, 69.
        [13] Ibid, 70.
        [14] Ibid, 70.
        [15] Pastor’s Perspective 02/10/15, Pastor’s Perspective (Podcast/iTunes, February 10, 2015), accessed February 18, 2015, https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pastors-perspective/id78960147?mt=2&i=335276843.
        [16] Ibid.
        [17] Ibid.
        [18] Ibid.
        [19] John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999). (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).
        [20] Henry Clarence Thiessen, Lectures is Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 69.
        [21] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 90.
        [22] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume One: Introduction, Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002), 495.

  46. What about this…. We all need to belong. We all need to connect. Love with no conditions is how we are primed at birth. No shame. No competition. Primed to love and be loved. However, we experience love that may not be unconditional from our parents and caregivers. Some times it’s abuse. Some times it’s I love you if/when/because. Sometimes it’s suffocating love, sticky, smothering. Sometimes it’s just non existent, we feel abandoned. Maybe, just maybe it is the wisdom of a humanity even before Christianity that knew humans need compassion – unconditional love and acceptance to be at peace, feel connected and have purpose. Be creative, play and socially bond. Of course our minds are made of parts and life and leadership is full of opposites and paradoxes. Religion became big, controlling and naturally wrapped up in ‘humanity and all it’s weaknesses’ – this is what we wrestle with us humans.

    Perhaps Jesus – was an ideal – the idea of compassion, kindness, empathy. This is what is in us – all of us who ever we are rwhen we experience love – unconditional love. The ‘Jesus’ part of us that exists and grows from real love. And that’s compassion for self and others. Real love.

    Maybe, it’s not religion that we need but a vehicle to spread this message.

    It’s awakening those ‘high road’ parts of humanity that keeps us together, connected, social, loving and compassionate. Maybe that’s the plan. Stay on the high road. The answers are within us.

  47. Something I would add is to dig into the Greek and Hebrew, especially in the hard passages and understand the teachings of the scholars so you can determine which ones use scriptures to only support their own preconceived notions and are really just following their own minds and using scripture to justify what they have thought up. As John said, “test the spirits” and as Paul warned Timothy, “reject those who follow this so called ‘knowledge’ for we know Christ as the prime cause of creation, the ultimate expression of God’s love for man, and the perfect pattern of our love for each other.
    Don’t be like the Gnostics who mistakenly thought they would be saved by their puffed up Knowledge or like the Pharisees to whom Christ said: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” John 5:39-40

  48. This article is so true of the way I used to think. As most of us grew up in the institutional church, we were taught that the word of God was the Bible and whatever it said (no matter how we interpreted it), that was the way it was, take it or leave it. After many years of Christian living, I came to a point where I was very dissatisfied with church in general and I kept telling my wife there has to be something more. This can’t be what God meant for His followers. Finally, we left the church (the building) and realized the Church God is building is us. All of us who follow Christ. Things started making more sense, such as the Bible not being the word of God, but the words inspired by God to lead us to Christ, the true Word of God. So many of us make the Bible part of the trinity and worship it rather than the Christ the Bible leads us too. Thanks for writing such a good article on the subject.

  49. One thing I wanted to nitpick on- you mention that the Bible commands us to not add to or take away from it. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t that added either at Nicea or during the King James revision?

    This is important for many aspects.
    1) it proves human interference
    2) it supports your initial statements. Too often Christians will attack “extra-biblical” works such as those of The Book of Tobit (which now qualifies to be in the King James Version btw) and Macabeus. While many were dismissed for one or another these are examples of human interference.
    My overall take is that we can barely handle what we have so far, why look for more? People are too committed to giving their answers instead of spending a lifetime learning the questions.


  51. Sigh, it’s impossible to ‘idolize’ the word of God. The scripture are God’s way of leading the lost to salvation, as well as equipping the believer’s for every good work.

    If your boss sent you an email, telling you to do this, that, and the other, and you say “we’ll, I dunno, this email isn’t the boss of me, my BOSS is the boss of me” and go about ignoring the email and start trying to discern your boss’s will for your life some other way, you’re going to have a bad time.

  52. I’m not an atheist. I’m not ignorant of the Bible. I’ve spent far more hours, days, months, years studying it than I ever should have. I’ve studied it until I feel confident in saying that not only should it not be worshiped but in fact it sucks. Yes, the Bible really really sucks. That’s my studied opinion of it. Save yourself the time and trouble that I wasted. Don’t bother with it.

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