THE TENTH DAY OF APRIL IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN.
We Christians accept the Bible as “scripture” and as “canon”, the Greek word for “measuring stick or ruler.” By doing so, we affirm that the Bible, the combination of sacred writings of the Jews called the Tanakh, a name created by combining as an acronym the Hebrew words for the Law, the Writings and the Prophets, (our Old Testament) and 27 Christian writings (the “New Testament”), is our final test of all other messages or writings said to have come from God.
This acknowledgement concerning Scripture gives rise to two distinct warnings involving the Bible. On the one hand, we must avoid the relativism that runs rampant throughout our culture, that makes all things equal, and that tells us that we are the final judges of Scripture instead of the other way around. On the other hand, we must avoid the kind of dead fundamentalism that makes the Bible and not God our ultimate authority, object of worship, and source of life.
Jesus affirmed the integrity and authority of the Jewish Scriptures (Matt 5:17-19). He did not tolerate those who hijacked its precepts for their own purposes and plundered its contents to their own ends (Matt. 12:1-8). But he also made plain that all the Scriptures pointed to him, God’s Messiah (Lk. 24:27, 45-47). He went head-to-head with some whose noses were stuck so deep in the holy book that they missed seeing the Messiah to which the book was pointing (John 5:39-40). Our relationship is not with pages on a book. It is with the personal and eternal God, who came among us in Jesus of Nazareth, and who, since Pentecost, has been in us through the Spirit of the Risen Christ.
God speaks to us in the Bible, and part of what he tells us there is that he communicates with people, however he pleases, in many other ways as well. He speaks through burning bushes and through talking donkeys, through day visions and night dreams, through nature and through conscience, through wisdom and reason, through thunderous storms and soft still breezes, through oracles and through prophecies. Nothing he says in any of those ways contradicts what he says in the Bible. And the Bible, rightly understood, never contradicts God’s supreme revelation given through the person and the life of the Word-made-flesh, the man Jesus Christ.