Friday, July 07, 2023
What is the Bible?
Is every word perfectly chosen, timelessly true, from God and thus worthy of worship, obedience and unquestioning application in our lives?
The breakthrough for me was when I realised the Bible was written by man not God. I had always known this in principle but hadn't thought it through carefully.
The Bible is 66 scrolls (documents, letters, histories, and collections of prophecy/poetry/wisdom sayings) written by 50+ authors in a diversity of middle-eastern locations over nearly 500 years. It clearly presents and represents the culture and biases of the people writing it.
Those scrolls were collected by libraries and read by scholars for the next few hundred years. Various libraries had various scrolls. Very few libraries had copies of all the scrolls considered as scripture.
A few hundred years after Jesus, a council of church leaders decided to vote on which of the 80+ ancient scripture scrolls were most likely to be trustworthy and orthodox in teaching. Once the vote was finished they created one codex (book) that included the 66 books voted as truly scriptural. This is the book we call "The Holy Bible" today. It didn't drop from Heaven as a singular finished book.
Recognising God worked through people back then the same way he does now opens up an entirely different way to read the Bible. Who was writing? To whom? Why? What was the goal? What resulted? How does this ancient wisdom apply to my life today?
The Holy Bible was set apart by God's people to remind them of how God worked in their past and would keep his promises in their future. The word "holy" means set apart. It's something we do to things we value. The scrolls included in the Bible are holy because humans "set then apart" from other scrolls.
The Bible is a holy book because we value it, not because it is perfectly inerrant with the authority of God over our lives. To treat the Bible as divine is to turn it into an idol.
The Bible was written and set apart by people not God. It is holy not divine. It deserves respect and study but not worship.
God alone is worthy of worship.
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