I don’t like to read my bible. Never have.
It’s just one point in a long list of reasons I’m not a great Christian, but I’m’ trying.
If you know me you know that everything is a question to me. My wife could not be less interested in all the things I find interesting, the actions we need to consider the implications of or the obvious questions everything we do seem to raise. Everything raises an interesting question. The problem is that more often than not, they are really only interesting to me.
But this issue I have with reading the bible lead to what is an obvious question to me, can you be a Christian without the bible?
The clear answer is yes but wow does that seem strange the write.
But the idea is so foreign and strange. The bible has such a place of esteem, and rightfully so, in the churches I have been a part of the idea that you could be a Christian without a bible seems ludicrous.
How would I know how to live, or what to believe about creation, head coverings and pork without a bible?
I dunno, but the early church, who the letters we now read as the bible, were sorting it out.
Well, they were Christians not Biblicists. They followed Christ not the bible and yes those can be really different.
Strictly speaking, it is entirely possible to be a Christian without a bible. While formative and massively important, it’s not required.
And we implicitly understand this, thought we live often in a Christian culture that refuses to acknowledge this. Again we know the early church didn’t have a bible.
So let’s take a moment to look at how we interact with the bible today
Be it head coverings, eating pork, selling all we have, or simply loving our neighbour, the bible is full of commands and actions we choose not to follow. Some, like head coverings and pork we interpret as cultural or part of a covenant we are no longer held to. Some like selling all we have we interpret as contextual or an outward example of the in workings of someone’s heart. And still some we rationalize away creating systems, categories and excuses to not love people because it’s hard and messy and requires more than we’re really willing to give.
The bible is interpreted.
Is the creation story a poem, an account handed down that mixes history and mythology from a people group, or a purely factual account that can and should be scientifically proven and defended?
I dunno but those are some really diverse ways to read the same thing.
All of those question and issues are important and worth of discussion, but they don’t make us Christian. But we feel, argue, and sadly condemn people as though they do. I worry that at times we defend the bible more vehemently than we defend Christ. His way, His love and His call to discipleship.
We understand the bible is important because it points us to Jesus. We should also get that while bible is important it’s when we make it more important than Jesus that we lose our way. It’s when we transition from Christian to Biblicist that we lose our way.
It’s when we use the bible and tradition to justify a system/belief/desire rather than look at the life of Jesus and try to be more like him.
It’s when we’d rather hide behind the bible than be the people Jesus calls us to be that we should really consider if Christian is the right word for us.