Thursday, April 14, 2011

All we need to know

A blog I like to read regularly is  It's the blog of worship pastor Carlos Whittacker. He's funny, down to earth, seems to have a sound theology, and he approaches religion and faith matters from a very practical viewpoint. I dig that because I try to do the same. Los doesn't shy away from the world, he seems to realize that we're all a part of it and we have to figure out how to balance the world and our faith.

There have been two instances lately on his blog that have really got me thinking. Two statements made in comments on his posts have stirred up in me realization of things I don't like about the church. Now I'm not talking about the entire body of Christ, rather the people who profess faith and two things I hear regularly that really get under my skin.

The first one was a response to a comment I left under the post "I really hate when people say..." I said I had issue when people refer to a "personal relationship with Jesus" because it takes community out of church and without broad relationships then religion and faith were weak. Another commenter disagreed and we had a brief exchange about the nature of relationship. I'll write more about that later.

The second one, which occurred today, was in response to a post about Rob Bell's new book "Love Wins." Now, I've already talked a little bit about the book and if you're interested there are great reviews from all sides to read. This post isn't about Rob Bell. One of the comments made the following statement:

"The Bible holds all we need to know about God."

Read that again. I'm not sure I disagree but it seems like quite a bold statement. I automatically started questioning whether or not I believed the basis of that statement. I began to question my own understanding of the Bible.

In small group last night, one of our members made a point to say that no matter what style or delivery of worship a church chose, if they weren't grounded in the Bible then it would go awry. I agree with that statement. The Bible is a fantastic foundation for conversation, learning, faith development, and understanding of the Christian story. That being said, I wonder if we haven't fetishized the Bible a little too much. I don't have a literalistic understanding of Scripture, and I don't believe the Bible is infallible. I do believe that it is authoritative to understanding the nature of God and Christ, but the more I dig in the less I believe it is the only way we can come to understand God.

I have had countless experiences in this life that didn't include the Bible that showed me the nature of God. I have come to understand God's love through the love my family and friends have shown me. I have come to understand God's love as a father when I look at my son smiling at me. I understand God's life-changing Spirit by listening to others preach and share the gospel with me. Thats a very short list of the infinite ways I've experienced God. Yes, I've experienced God in Scripture. I think it's an invaluable resource to the church, but if all the Bibles in the world were to disappear, I can't imagine I'd stop believing what I believe or stop experiencing God active in the world.

Thats where I'm at. Where are you? Does the Bible hold all we need to know about God? Do you experience God elsewhere? I think this is a good conversation to have.



  1. Agreed Mike.. I think we've had numerouse conversations about this. To put God into a box or more specifically "a book" is man made and while it holds the foundation of our belief system, I have a hard time believing that the pages of the bible are the limits of understanding God. Especially considering that the bible was written by fallible human beings. I often struggle with the fact that we have entire nations fighting over who's book was correct and while I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior, I cant seem to think of a world where a child who grew up and experienced God through a different way is now damned for eternity because he chose the wrong book. I'm with you, if all the bibles were destroyed today, it would not destroy anything about my faith as I am reminded daily by things in my life of his purpose for me and blessings he has given me.

    Peace... Breezie

  2. Nicely said!

    Some thoughts:

    1) What is it we mean when we say "Word of God?" Is the Bible the Word of God, or does it contain the Word of God? Is Jesus himself the Word of God? Is Communion and Baptism filled with the Word of God? Can the Word of God be found elsewhere? It seems to me that we who are Lutheran-flavored Jesus-followers have a multi-layered understanding of the phrase "Word of God."

    2) I believe God promises to show up in the Preaching of the Gospel and the Sacraments. We can rely on them to "lead us into faith." But these aren't the only resources at God's disposal to reach God's children. But at the same time, these other resources are not consistently reliable in leading us into faith, as God doesn't promise to show up in those ways as God promises to do in the Gospel and Sacraments.

  3. Your whole second to last paragraph really points to why I've become disenchanted with people who make that statement about the Bible. I don't know about everyone else, but I see God in my community of friends and family and our love and support of each other. That is the kind of love that makes me know that there is someone up there. If the only way a person experienced God was through a bunch of text (albeit enlightening text) then I really think they're missing something big.