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The Bible: third part of the trinity?

Let me begin this provocative blog by saying, I thank the Lord for the Bible and want to protect it against heretics. That’s what motivates me to write here. So, there is a heresy that some in the evangelical church espouse that states that God is incapable of speaking to us in any ways outsid…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Let me begin this provocative blog by saying, I thank the Lord for the Bible and want to protect it against heretics. That’s what motivates me to write here.

So, there is a heresy that some in the evangelical church espouse that states that God is incapable of speaking to us in any ways outside of His Word. The fact is, God can talk to us any way He wants to. After all, He’s God!

We live in a culture grounded in legal systems and terminology and we tend to superimpose this legal perspective on God. We spend so much of our educational lives with our noses in books. We think to ourselves: “Written communication is so much more reliable than other forms of communication. It is static and linear. It can be analyzed and fairly debated. The Bible itself testifies to the inspiration of scripture. Why wouldn’t God want to restrict His communication with us to the printed page?”

Unfortunately Christians taking this perspective put
God in a box. When they declare that God has limited Himself to speaking through Scripture, they ignore the fact that most Christians down through history not only have never owned a Bible, but were illiterate. Bibles weren’t even available to the average person until after Guttenberg invented the printing press. World literacy didn’t pass 50% till the past century, and even now, many Christians the world over are still illiterate.

Are we to conclude that therefore the majority of Christians throughout history have been unable to hear from God? Has God been waiting for the literacy rate to climb so that now He can finally speak to us? And now that we’re able to read it, does our reading eliminate the subjectivity of interpretation? Are the number of denominations and sects declining as all Bible readers arrive at the same interpretation of scripture?

How ethnocentric and parochial we are to limit the way in which God can speak! Early in his ministry Jesus took on this kind of formulaic legalism when he confronted the Jews by saying, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to
me to have life.” (John 5:39-40).” He was showing the emptiness of what might be termed “Bible deism”- a theology that limits our relationship with God to the Scriptures.

Those who would limit the Lord’s interaction to Scripture miss the fact that it still must pass through the flawed filter of human interpretation. Thus the Crusades and the Inquisition and the practice of Indulgences were grounded not in new revelation, but in a flawed
interpretation of the Bible. People limit God’s communication to Scripture because of their desire to prevent heresy, but heresy results anyway. Even the Islamic and the Mormon faith are grounded in Scripture. Yes, they add Scripture to the canon, but they also misinterpret great swaths of Scripture.

It is ironic that the very thing that today’s well-intentioned Bible teachers want to guard against, the misinterpretation of Scripture, is the very thing that they are guilty of. By limiting God’s communication to the Bible, they disregard dozens of biblical examples and direct scriptural injunctions showing a God who communicates relationally in other ways.

Comments (12)

  • Seth,

    For starters, the Bible says, “The HEAVENS DECLARE the glory of God; the SKIES PROCLAIM the work of his hands. Day after day THEY POUR FORTH SPEECH; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. THEIR VOICE GOES OUT out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

    Thus the Scriptures indicates that God speaks to us outside of the written Word.

  • I remember speaking once to a woman who vehemently criicized “those people” who claim God speaks to them apart from the Bible. I told her a first-hand story of attempting to take Bibles to Christians in a Communist country where the Bible was not allowed. We couldn’t find the address of our contact, and obviously couldn’t ask anyone how to get there. So, we began to ask the Lord to direct us. One step at a time, He gave us the “turn right here, straght here, left here”, etc. He took us right to the home, because God was eager to get His Word there. But what would have happened if He was limited to His written Word alone? She was quiet and didn’t know what to say. It’s so great to serve a personal, living, speaking God!

  • i am so thankful for Gods Word. and the things i’ve learned from it is invaluable. but when you think about a relationship, it takes spending time and talking to that person to build a healthy relationship. and it takes moments of listening as well. the times when i’ve just sat and listened, thats when God has really spoken to me about things i probably wouldn’t get from His word. and i can’t even tell you how many times He’s showed me things through other people. i love His creativity.

  • I teach a discipleship class. Not a Bible study classa discipleship class. I work at it. I study. I meditate. I read what others have taught. I pray. Then, sometimes, I go to class and what comes out of my mouth doesn’t much resemble that which I prepared. Yet, it seems to be what was needed. Its humbling, even scary. God speaks. I attest to it.

  • Very well written; although there were dozens of times when I could have used the clarity your explanation! What I have found is that those who would attempt to keep the revelation of God limited to the written scriptures (and I don’t believe I would dare attempt to minimize the accuracy of the inspired word of God found therein) prefer to live a riskless Christian existence. Too boring fo me ….

  • Well written! As grateful as I am for the word, I can’t imagine a relationship where that’s the only way I hear from Him… Amen.

  • This message is timely for some people in this part of the world. There’s so much “bookwork” that has infiltrated the church here. While we need to know the word diligently, God is limitless and cannot be confined to the word, which He has exalted above His own name, because His ways are limitless and He is awesome! Most of the “great” men of God in Africa are “unlearned” and some total illiterates.

  • In John 16:13 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit “will tell you what is yet to come.” There are many times when I have felt alone in believing this is true. I am grateful for the affirmation.

  • thanks, Hanna. I actually had it sitting in my file for a couple of years, a little too concerned with being perceived as reactionary or overly provocative.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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