What's It All About Anyway?
I've wanted to ask the question for some time now if whether Christians believe in an open bible, a closed bible, or simply follow a dead bible that is irrelevant and of no particular importance except as a religious institution that many people may subscribe too because of guilt, fear, and superstition. Or because of the pressure of cultural mores, personal self-doubts, and uncertainty about life hereafter. I suspect a closed or dead bible will do that. It will create less of a living faith and more of a religious faith. It will concentrate on the Church's do's and don'ts. Or on its congregational creeds and confessions that no one really has taken the time to explore or understand. Or stand in the pulpit or at the Sunday School lectern proclaiming "Thus saith the Lord" wrapped around popular Christian sentiments for faith and life before hurrying off to dinner and Sunday afternoon football.
2Thess 3.11-18; Hebr 1.1-2; 2
However, an open bible is practiced by those faithful few desiring to read and understand the bible's many mysteries. Who stand back and wonder aloud to themselves why - when reading God's Word - they find themselves so moved and affected by a living spiritual presence that burdens their hearts with honoring the commands of God to love and speak truth to those around them. By praying for personal forgiveness in the face of agonizing failure for being unloving, unkind, petty and mean, to those place around them when presented the opportunity by the Spirit to grow beyond those personal inflection points. By seeking God's daily help to be unlike their sinful selves and more like their Lord practicing deeds of charity and understanding, by patiently listening to those who sorrow, or rejoicing with those who rejoice. Who see living people in front of them unjudged by depersonalized labels of this- or that-. Who attempt to move beyond the words and proscriptions of their faith towards thoughts and attitudes welcoming benevolency, honesty and personal sacrifice. Who study the bible to discover the meaning of life; its many mysteries and majesties; and its bottomless seas of wisdom and love.
What Does This Mean Then?
In this way an open bible recreates people. It renews them. It heals and forgives. It refreshes and causes great joy within the holy magisterium of God's fellowship including that of His own people. A closed bible cannot. It's joyless, and filled with self-recriminating condemnations that washes over everyone whom God would place before us to minister to and be ministered to. It wants rules and regulations. Laws, and lots of them. It wants to seek out its own righteousness while refusing the righteousness that Jesus provides through His atoning death on the Cross. It's austere. Formidable. Angry and vindictive. It pounds the table of good works not understanding that works follows from faith and is not a substitute for faith. How many times does the Apostle Paul say in his letters that we have inherited grace and peace? That we are adoptees into a faith that was not made by human hands. That comes by the presence of the Spirit when born again into the newness of life the Jesus has provided. Man's religious legalisms and his human spirit of pride would abjectly refuse Jesus' redeeming work of love and grace, forgiveness and mercy. All is cut off from God's providence and regarded with a niggardly hand of barrenness and shame. Closed bibles will do that to people. So will dead ones. There's no life and consequently, no spiritual life.
Why Is an Open Bible Important?
Hence, I thought to begin pursuing the history and development of the bible with an eye towards understanding God's revelation as open to all who seek His lifeforce of grace and forgiveness, but closed to those Pharisees amongst us who cannot perceive the mysteries of the Spirit sent by the Father and the Son that fills this old world with the Godhead's holy presence. And when seeking to interpret the bible we might read it as an open document written for every age of man willing to receive God's grace and mercy and thereby become vessels of use for the Master's service no matter the banged-up dings and dents found on the pot. No matter the pot's color or shape. Nor wealth of craftsmanship or poverty of material. But become holy vessels useful for the Potter's plan. Who would serve as God's incarnate hands and feet; His open heart and gracious spirit; His consuming mind and trembling voice. Speaking of a Creator-Redeemer's love birthed through the life and ministry of Jesus, the divine Son of God. And through us - that is, through the Holy Church of God, that covenanted remnant of the bible and elect of the earth - as crucified servants performing cruciform ministries to God's glory and praise. To be a living people of faith who would ask, "What would Jesus do (WWJD)?" And do it. As led by the living God despite the headaches or heartaches the church of this earth may give to those of God's servants willing to step-out and speak-out against the church's dead folklores and presumed traditions. Against its sanctimonious cultural mores and lifeless behaviors dulled by uncircumcised hearts and self-serving feet. Against its high priesthoods of darkness and misguided provincial sayings.
And so, in the days ahead I hope to explore what an open hermeneutic might look like when stripped away of dithering doctrines lulling followers of Jesus into a false understanding of God's Word. I intend to add to the words we think we know with newer words that would provide further help-and-assistance in examining the bible. And in the process remove some good words that originally seemed to have helped, but have now become a dark woods themselves in lending subservience to self-serving epistemologies that have unwittingly closed God's communication to man in this day and age of postmodern turmoil and turbulence.
In the meantime, please begin reading through the Wikipedia references I have provided below to help lend a contextual framework to this heady task of reading God's Word with an eye towards understanding it as best we can until that day when we will see clearly face-to-face and no longer through the dark mirrors of our finite humanity and bounded earthen will.
November 2, 2012
1 Corinthians 13
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
English Standard Version (ESV)
Warning Against Apostasy
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
History and Development of the Bible