Personal Affirmations about the Bible

When I affirm that the Bible is the word of God, this is some of what I mean to say:

  1. God acted to inspire the writing and collecting of the Christian Bible to reveal himself, his saving work and his intention for humankind.
  2. The Bible is a library of diverse books from different eras that together tell one great story of God’s creation and redemption of humankind; the library reflects the mind of God, its divine assembler.
  3. The Bible in its entirety is simultaneously the Word of God and the words of humans.  Each of the Biblical texts has a human dimension that includes its literary genre, its social situation in history, its composition and transmission, and the personalities of its authors and editors.
  4. God speaks in the Bible’s human writings. One cannot separate the divine from the human in any particular Biblical text; the Christian interpreter must listen for the Word of God in every passage, primarily by setting it in its context in salvation history and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
  5. The books of the Bible, as received by the church, are the the written Word of God; the oral traditions and and documents that contributed to the received texts are not.  The church does not live by speculative reconstructions of the Bible’s antecedents.
  6. The Bible is the church’s canon (i.e. measure or rule); the church measures of all doctrines and practices through it. The church, conversely, reads the Bible through the rule of faith, the pattern of God’s redemptive activity affirmed in the creeds of the early church.
  7. All scripture leads to God’s ultimate self-revelation in Jesus and should be interpreted in light of Christ’s teaching’s, actions, crucifixion, resurrection, establishment of his Spirit-filled church and promised coming again.
  8. Jesus is God’s word made flesh. The only Jesus available to the post-apostolic church, however, is the one witnessed-to in the Holy Scriptures and encountered in the church’s life and sacraments.
  9. The Bible is God’s normative, verbal self-revelation to the post-apostolic era.
  10. The Bible is the church’s book. It is a product of the church for use first-of-all in the church, its teaching and its common worship.
  11. The Bible carries apostolic authority as the authoritative witness to the faith of the church in the apostolic era. For me, “apostolic” means “Biblical”.
  12. The Bible authoritatively reveals God’s redemptive activity in and through his chosen people, from the creation of all things through the call of Abraham and the history of Israel to its fulfillment in Jesus Christ and the promised consummation at Christ’s return.
  13. The 4000+ year history of God’s redemptive activity includes many different kinds of covenants, promises and actions on God’s part.  Each divine action mandates an appropriate human response. The Bible authoritatively reveals how God’s people have responded both properly and improperly to the divine covenants under which they lived.
  14. The Bible is a public document, whose meaning is available to those who read it within the church’s rule of faith; it is not filled with hidden, esoteric knowledge available only to with a secret key to its interpretation.
  15. Historical-critical scholarship helps the church understand what God intends to communicate through the Bible’s texts; faithful interpretation and application of the Bible however, is a task that ultimately belongs to the church, not the academy.
  16. There will always be disagreements about what some Biblical passages mean – what they meant in the past or how they apply now. Some disagreements have significant, practical implications that necessarily lead to organizational divisions within the church.
  17. The truth of the Bible is found in its totality, not in bits and pieces ripped from the context of God’s great work of creation and redemption in the history of Israel and the person of Jesus.
  18. The Bible has nothing to say to anyone to whom it does not first say, “Repent and believe the gospel.”
  19. The use of the Bible for life coaching, psychological advice, insights on leadership, relationship counseling, ontological speculation, etc. may be interesting, but such uses are not divinely authoritative. God did not give the Bible to the church for these purposes.
  20. The Bible consists of its words. While the physical book can play a symbolic role in Christian liturgy, its paper, printing and binding are ordinary objects outside of the liturgical setting.
  21. I love the Bible because I love the God whom it reveals. Studying it energized my Christian faith over 40 years ago, and continues to do so today.