Challenging The Notion That The Bible Is An End Unto Itself

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

What would happen in my marriage if every time a marital issue arose that needed to be addressed, I’d read a book about the issue instead of spending time with Rhonda discussing it? What if I even memorized some of the lines from the book, would that help? What if I really believed the book had the answers I was looking for, would that help our marriage? 

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I heard a call-in show yesterday on Moody Radio – the Chris Fabry show. He made this statement: “The Bible has what we need to survive and thrive in confusing, perilous, and chaotic days that we live in.” “We need to turn to God by turning to our Bibles.” The Bible give us “hope that comes from not only reading this but believing that this is written for you and me.” 

He used the analogy of having jumper cables in your trunk in case your car needed help starting. The jumper cables were verses from the Bible used to help in difficult times. Listeners called in with their favorite verse(s) that have helped them through family struggles, personal battles, and current problems – “verses you turn to in tough times.” Psalm 46.7-11, John 29.10, John 10.10, Psalm 34.3-6, Joshua 1.9, Romans 8.28, Psalm 20.7, Philippians 1.6, and Psalm 23 were mentioned by individual callers.

It was encouraging to hear the stories. It was discouraging to hear the Bible presented as an end unto itself. 

I only raise this for “awareness.” I don’t think most Christians intend to make the Bible an end unto itself but it often ends up there. The scriptures almost become a member of the Trinity. As one of my profs once said, “I used to think of the Trinity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scriptures.” 

Properly understood, the Bible is a means that leads you to God. If your experience of what is written does not move you into an experiential “knowing” of God, then something’s amiss. Paraphrasing Chris Fabry: “The Triune God, who often uses the Bible, has what we need to survive and thrive…” I’m sure Chris would not disagree. Yet, he, like many evangelicals, elevates the scriptures to a place never intended for them. 

Ironically, many of the verses mentioned were about God and His ways with people. Yet, instead of understanding the verse as a means to lead the person to an experiential knowledge of God, it seemed good enough just to understand the verse and believe it. Additionally, most callers told a story about how the Bible verse helped them while failing to focus on God who actually did help them. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not pitting scripture against God. I’m trying to place scripture in its proper role. Its purpose is to lead us to God where we find, in the actual experience of Him, what we need to make it in life.

The Holy Bible is not the answer; the Holy Trinity is. 

A song comes to mind that my wife Rhonda often sung bringing tears to my eyes every time. I first heard “When Answers Aren’t Enough”  presented by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. The song points us to the Source of our life and Answer to our every struggle. I hope you’ll listen to it. (I wish the Brooklyn Tab rendition was on You Tube – powerful!!) Your heart will be directed to Jesus, the Word. 

What role does scripture have in your life? Share below.

Dr. K