Living Word

[I am intentionally vague in my reference to which church this is because I want to critique more the perspective than the person]

Lindsay and I attended a worship service this past Sunday morning, and I was near the verge of 1) standing up and leaving, or 2) standing up and verbally disagreeing with the pastor. It was painful, it was awkward and it was not only poor theology but also poor argumentation, which in itself is problematic in a sermon; should sermons be arguments? It felt as though I was sitting in a lecture than a worship service.

Their fall series was “Answering Your Friends (implied non-Christians) Toughest Questions.” And the final question of the series was “How do we know the Bible is the Word of God?”

When I first sat in the pew and saw the sermon title, I knew I was in for it. I had stepped out of my denominational bounds to see what this other church was doing, and I was immediately aware of their different theological loci. More problematic was the question, I have never had my normal friends ask me “How do we know the Bible is the Word of God?” The more appropriate starting point is “How do we know that the Bible is authentic/reliable/true?”

But what the pastor sought to do was to preach defensively about the New Testaments historical accuracy. He totalled ignored the Old Testament, never once bringing it into the conversation. Plus he ignored interesting passages such as Paul saying, “It is not the Lord who says this but I.” What do we do with that? These make the question “What is the Word of God?” much meatier, interesting and faith-forming.

I was immediately reminded me of one of my very first seminary classes in which the professor asked us burgeoning scholars “what is the Word of God?” After an hour of hands popping up and tongues wagging, we felt unsettled; as we should.

Lost in this defensive sermon was the beauty of “the Word of God,” which is that the Word is more than written document, it is Jesus Christ himself. The Word is alive and the Scriptures attest to Him, he is not subject to the written word, but the written word (just as the spoken word) is subject to Him.

I left the service sadden because while the pastor was seeking to bring reverence to Scripture, I felt as though he took the beauty out of the Bible. The fact is the tension of God’s Word written by human hands is beautiful. That is what makes the written word alive; it mirrors the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ.

Hidden deep in the service, which if you dozed off you would have missed, was an intriguing line about making the Bible relevant: “We don’t need to breath life into the Bible, but the Bible needs to breath life into us.” These are the things of beauty that make me wake up in the morning to reread the written word in order that I may discover the new way the Word of God is speaking to me.

18 thoughts on “Living Word

  1. [Posted by Overweighted Nymph earlier today, I deleted to remove the email address at ON’s request]Wes, what turns my stomach is stupidity and ignorance. I am not saying that you are completely stupid or ignorant, just in certain fields. But I am insinuating, not that you have never questioned the bible, but that you have never questioned it soundly enough. Think for a moment. Water into wine? Adam and Eve? NOAH’S ARK?? It’s strange to me how some people could embrace these fairy tales in the way that you do. And yes I was talking to the generic “you’s” out there, there happens to be a good number of them, you included.If you can give me ANY proof at all that the stories you claim to be true actually are, then I will drop my atheistic beliefs and convert the very next day.

  2. [Also from Overweighted Nymph, in response to a deleted post–my apologies for these deletes and edits, but I wanted to get this back into the appropriate order and remove an unconstructive, attacking “anonymous” post]Who are you? How do you presume to know who is going to heaven or hell? How do you know that I will be punished? How do you know that there is even a god to punish me in the first place? You don’t know, you just pretty sure, just like me. However I base my beliefs on my observations of the world. For instance, evolution is supported by the fact that chimpanzies use spears to hunt, the use currencies to buy food tools and sex, and they even have basic forms of governments. Your beliefs are based on what people who lived thousands of years ago wrote in books that have been altered almost beyond recognition from the time they were written to the time you read them.You are ignorant because you ignore all the facts of modern day studies. You are stupid because you think yelling at me and telling me that I’m going to hell will champion your cause.Wes, to answer your question, this is what I was so ‘dramatically reacting to’. People who are just soooo sure that they are right that they don’t even need to think about it. They just know, that’s all. If this does not describe you, my apologies for my earlier comments, the whole “god talks to me” thing just threw me off. Spiritual people talk to god. But god only talks to crazy people, know what I mean?

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