Growing in Christ - Understanding the Scriptures
"He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45
Defend a Lion? Charles Spurgeon was once asked if he felt he needed to defend the Scriptures. His reply: "Defend the Scriptures? I would rather defend a lion."
Seeping in behind our defenses: Some years ago I was privileged to meet a Chinese scholar raised under communism in his formative years. He shared how effective communist teaching against God and the Bible had been in his life and mind. Yet, when he was once challenged to read the Bible he agreed to, and did so, in fact, three times. "The first time I read it, I laughed that such an idea should gain prominence," he said. "Yet there was something intriguing so I read it again. This time I did so in silence." "The third time, in tears. Tears of remorse and repentance."
Why? Because the Bible is not only a book spanning human history and opening our understanding of eternity, but it also seeps in behind our intellectual defences.
Simple, despite being complex: Karl Barth once compared the Bible to a pool deep enough at its centre for the greatest intellect to be submersed, and shallow enough at its edges that a child may drink safely. When asked in a public forum of a prestigious university, "Dr. Barth, in all your studies, what is the most profound thing you have learned?" His response was simply this, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
The Divine Heart behind the Human Hand: Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a student under Adolf von Harnack and others espousing a human origin the Bible (the so called "critical" method seeking to uncover the original author or influence of each phrase of the scriptures. While Bonhoeffer accepted this approach he pointed out this approach isn't able to get at the heart of scripture. In a letter to his brother-in-law Rudiger Schleicher he wrote:
"First of all I will confess quite simply - I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive thsi answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the Bible God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one's own strength, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us.
Of course it is also possible to read the Bible like any other book, that is to say from the point of view of textual criticism, etc.; there is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary, "pondering them in our heart," so it will be with the words of the Bible. Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who love us and does not will to leave us along with our questions, only so shall we rejoice in the Bible...
If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament...
And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have learnt to read the Bible in this way - and this has not been for so very long - it becomes every day more wonderful to me. I read it in the morning and in the evening, often during the day as well, and every day I consider a text which I have chosen for the whole week, and try to sink deeply into it, so as really to hear what it is saying. I know that without this I could not live property any longer." - Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer, p. 136
Intelligent Design: Not everything is apparent in a casual first time reading. The Bible was written by many persons over the span of many centuries. Yet the unity of both the theme and structure of the Bible is remarkable to say the least.
Though not for the faint-hearted, a study of this remarkable reality is found in a volume available for download in PDF by clicking here.
One does not need the 'bias of faith' (as is often charged) to see it. Jordan Peterson, who acknowledges Christian influence though not Christian commitment, recognizes a process and mind beyond human origin in the formation of scripture. He writes:
"The Bible is a library composed of many books, each written and edited by many people. It’s a truly emergent document—a selected, sequenced and finally coherent story written by no one and everyone over many thousands of years. The Bible has been thrown up, out of the deep, by the collective human imagination, which is itself a product of unimaginable forces operating over unfathomable spans of time. Its careful, respectful study can reveal things to us about what we believe and how we do and should act that can be discovered in almost no other manner." - 12 Rules, p. 104.
The Glory of the Lord: Yet to recognize the amazing design and message of the scriptures is not yet to know the author. Elsewhere on this site I refer to the experience of Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) wrote voluminously as one of the most respected theologians of the Catholic Church. Towards the end of his life Aquinas experienced a profound vision of God after which he never wrote again, calling earlier writings "mere straw" in comparison with the God who had encountered him so powerfully.
It is knowing this awesome God, who is the author of the scriptures and revealed in Jesus Christ, that is the purpose of this website and my life. Open your heart and take steps to encounter him also.