At first glance, this title may imply that the Bible is not important to our Christian faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible is God’s book, created over thousands of years of early history by the best scholarly minds in the ancient world. It presents God’s Word in two authentic and valuable time frames. The Old Testament dates back to Genesis and the creation story and then guides the reader through two thousand years of struggles by God’s chosen people, slowly moving from a pagan civilization to finally accepting and believing in our one true God.
The New Testament presents through the four gospels, an accurate historical account, the life and teachings of Jesus that establishes the foundation of our Christian faith. Numerous written records compiled from multiple writers of the first century AD, clearly validates God’s Word through the life, teachings and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There were considerable struggles among Christian scholars for hundreds of years after Jesus’ earthly life about detailed theological beliefs. Today, while differing on some scriptural interpretations, our Christian churches hold dearly to the image of God given to us through the earthly presence and ministry of Jesus.
The Old Testament is a different story. It does not flow systematically and chronologically like most books. It is a series of individual stories loosely attached to a time frame, often with God’s messages hidden in beautiful allegories, genealogies, lists of instructions, songs and poems. Because of the wide time frame, with multiple writers composing their interpretations of God’s messages, modern biblical students are faced with substantial difficulties in understanding what portions of the literal scriptures are genuine reports of God’s Word. For example, if one sincerely believes that the God of the New Testament is the same God as the God of the Old Testament, how shall one reconcile the substantially different images of God presented between the two Biblical Testaments? What portions of the literal Old Testament scriptures were directed by, and/or approved by God?
Most modern biblical scholars believe that only those Old Testament scriptures (stories) that support the teachings and spirit of Jesus should be considered as God’s Word. Others hold tightly to the literal interpretation of all scriptures as being God’s Word. Vast quantities of intellectual Christian energies are dissipated in these well intentional disputes. One must ask, why do we waste so much time and energy studying and debating interpretations of biblical scriptures? Are different theological interpretations that important? I must confess to often being guilty of participating in these heated discussions.
Is it possible that if we could sit down with Jesus, he might counsel that Biblical studies are important but that intellectual correctness is far less important than reaching out to our friends and neighbors in need. He might ask that we biblical students (and scholars) should seek to redirect our Christian energies to helping to bring God’s kingdom on earth – as it is in heaven. Is it possible that some Christians, are like golfers who spend most of their energies on the “driving range” and seldom commit to playing in the real game?
Do we worship a risen Savior, or do we worship the Bible?