“An old book” – that is what Ergun Caner said when he issued a challenge to debate a group I have referenced here on a couple of occasions. Who is Ergun Caner? He is the President of Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.
When he made that reference, he was setting the “guidelines” for the discussion saying it would follow the rules of logic, there would be no personal attacks, no surprise questions, and the Bible would be just “an old book”. In context, what I understood his remark to mean, was that the Bible would be viewed as a historical document for the sake of the debate. To view it as the inspired Word of God would make it a non-viable resource because the opponents discounted its veracity. Whether that was what he meant or not, I have no idea. (He has not replied to my e-mail.)
When we approach the Word of God we always have several options. It can be viewed as a document of history, a collection of spiritual fables, or as the inspired words of God Himself. Many of us claim it is the third option. However, we treat it as though it is the first or second.
Being a good student of the Word, is not equal to being a good defender of the Word. Most of us would fail in that category. Why? Primarily because we do not approach Scripture rationally. We approach it emotionally. That is, we expect it to speak to us individually and not to “us” corporately. It can do both, but I suspect that the major intent of Scripture is to do the latter.
Perhaps, if we paid less attention to what we want God to say to “me”, and more attention to what God may be saying to “we”, our study and understanding of Scripture would be enhanced.
In my post yesterday, I indicated my journey into the Book of Revelation. It has been some time since I have visited this particular book. Part of the reason is because it requires me to stop often and determine – “symbolic or not?” – with each phrase, sometimes each word. And I don’t always like to think that hard on a daily basis. Nevertheless, here is my rational approach to the book.
- It is a revelation of Christ, received from God, given to John
- It involves things that “must soon take place”; the “time is near”
- “Blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in (this prophecy). (1:3)
- It is prophecy, therefore John is viewed as a prophet
- Prophets speak the word of God
- The mark of a true prophet is their prophecy comes to pass or proves to be true (Deut. 18:20-22)
- What I read in this book must have contemporary meaning for its hearers
- It may have future application for those who follow
- Every text has context – local and general
Now any one of those, except the first and last, may prove invalid as I go along, nevertheless, those are my starting points.
The Bible, it may be “an old book” but it is a grand book indeed! If it IS the Word of GOD, then it must be more than what’s-in-it-for-me!