Monday, February 13, 2006

First Church of Binitarian Biblilolaters


At a number of camps, conferences and retreats, I simply read the following list of Scriptures; warning that they are all off by only one word. I get one word wrong every time. By the end of the list, the lesson is (hopefully) obvious.

· “Do not take Thy Holy Bible from me!”
· “’Not by might, not by power, but by my Holy Bible,’ says the Lord.”
· But before Mary and Joseph came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Bible.” · “As Jesus was baptized, the Holy Bible descended on him, as a dove in bodily form.”
· “John baptized with water, but I have come to baptize with the Holy Bible and with fire.”
· “There will come a day when all worshippers worship correctly: in the Holy Bible and in truth.”
· “All other sins can be forgiven, even those against the Son of Man, but there is an unpardonable sin that will never be forgiven: the blasphemy against the Holy Bible.”
· “I will send you another Helper, who will counsel you, and will be like me, the Holy Bible.”
· “The Holy Bible will lead you into all truth.” · “You will receive power when the Holy Bible comes upon you” ·
“All of them were filled with the Holy Bible, and began to speak in other tongues as the Holy Bible gave them utterance”
· “Don’t worry about what to say, words will be given you; it will not be you speaking, but the Holy Bible.”
· “Go, therefore, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Bible…”
· “The fruit of the Holy Bible is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, self-control.”
· “On the day of Pentecost, when they were all together in one place, the Holy Bible fell on them.”
· “Don’t be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Bible”
· “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Bible?”
· “The love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the fellowship of the Holy Bible be with you all.”
· “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,” except through the Holy Bible.”
· “Do not grieve the Holy Bible.”
· “The one who has an ear, let them hear what the Holy Bible is saying to the churches”


I could go on, but I will stop while I am behind. I am guessing you get the pointed point; sorry for the sarcasm. But I need it to take and retake this humorous but serious test in a desperate soul-searching manner ; I chuckle when I check this checklist and do the necessary substitution (“Cheat sheet” for those who haven’t yet discovered the secret: simply replace the word “Bible” with “Spirit,” and every verse above is now reloaded to read as it was written); but my laughter gives way to tears and conviction when I recognize not only the profound point (Yes, the Spirit IS more “important” than the Bible; I could live without the latter if I had to; I cannot breathe, let alone hear/see God’s voice without the Former! I am doomed  without Him; if I loose it, at least I have…ideally…previously “hidden the Word in my heart”), but also recognize myself and my creeping and creepy temptation towards bibliolatry; or at least elevating the “Holy Bible” over the Holy Spirit, which I am not convinced falls anywhere short of full-blown Bible-worship.

By now you’ve figured out that Bible Deism is not so much a theology as it is a
system that caters to personalty type. It’s a system that religiously proud,
hurt, intellectual people find hard to pass up…(it’s) much more comfortable to
relate to a book than a Person .
Raschke, Next Reformation, p255

DON’T DROP THE DOVE

Now, just when you thought it was safe to quit this article, I want to crank up the ante; (by adding an adjective) before we return to our regularly scheduled program ... I propose that we are not only inveterate bibliolaters, but binitarian bibiolaters, as well! Now that would certainly be a hilarious sign to put in front of a church, “BINITARIAN BIBLIOLATERS MEET HERE!”, but it is basically the sign God writes and Ichabods over us and our churches when we practice in practice what I was preaching against in theory in my string of Scriptures above: Replacing the Holy Spirit with, not just the Holy Bible, but with anything/anyone. Dropping the Dove; worshipping a truncated two-thirds trinity is binitarian (only two members to the Godhead committee), not Tri-nitarian (with the full Three not just honorary, emeritus, or non-voting members).

Risky business! But take the risk of cycling once more through my suggested two dozen verses above, and ask yourself and God in a “blatantly honest” (Mike Yaconelli’s phrase) way: How do I fall into the binitarian/bibliolatry trap?

God cannot be trapped in, contained in; restrained by the Bible, the written Word. “Extra-biblical revelation?” Again, absolutely!. As much as that phrase mentioned in a positive light is apparently the definitive and damning litmus test for a heretic or cult these days (1,120 listings found by googling that phrase, most of them frantic warnings about the unqualified heresy of any such animal). But, delicious irony, even the biblical revelation is full of sanctions of, and encouragement toward…seeking extra-biblical revelation! Reread every one of the above verses, and find that….no math degree needed here.. the Spirit is not the Bible! The Spirit leads us into all truth, not the Bible. And the Spirit says many things that are not in the Bible. (Yes, yes, I know that many horrendous abuses and heresies arise .just because someone says “God told me..” , and all cults do have in common inappropriate “extra-biblical revelation..but trashing the baby with the water is ridiculous and an adventure in completely missing the point). What card-carrying inerrantist evangelical would not claim to have received an answer to prayer? Yet how many answers to prayer consist only of a verbatim Scripture? Is “Marry Joyce” or “Move to Vancouver” or even “Turn left at the light”, or “My daughter, I love you” “in the Bible”? Of course these words are not literally found in the Bible, but can be congruent with the Written Word.

Besides a misguided fear of God speaking "outside the Bible," I sense something else is up with our bibliolatry. I may not eventually agree with Raschke at all points (Here at this link is a helpful review, suggesting ironically...and irenically...that Raschke's application of "category mistake" below is in fact a "category mistake"), but he must be wrestled with:


The “infallible” authority of Scripture, therefore, is not founded on the fact
that it contains no “errors.” The doctrine of inerrancy is thoroughly
misplaced. It is what twentieth-century philosophers have described as a
“category mistake.” A category mistake occurs when one set of terms is misapplied
to another discourse  not in “error” but confusion. British philosopher
Gilbert Ryle gave an example of a category mistake….A visitor to a university
asked to be shown around. After a tour of all the different buildings and
facilities  nd learning their names, the visitor asked indignantly, “But where
is the university?” His host was thoroughly befuddled He thought he had shown
him the university. The problem was the visitor thought the university was a
building not the ensemble of all the buildings and their relationship to each
other. Inerrancy is grounded on a kindred category mistake. The truth of
Scriptrure is “certified” by the fact that it is God’s self-revelation to us,
not all at once, but progressively….The innerrantists demand that the whole
story be “true” as a tableau of impersonal facts, when in fact the facts
themselves are signs of God’s all-encompassing and awesome presence. Nothing
about God is “impersonal.” The inerrantist, like the visitor to the university,
demands to be shown Scripture; when indeed the fulness of Scripture is the
whole person of God in Christ. If that were not the case, then Jesus would not
have gone to the cross, He would have simply written a better book.
Raschke's The Next Reformation
" p.134

2 comments:

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    dw

    ReplyDelete

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!