Are You Underappreciating the Bible?

Here’s something my younger self probably would have agreed with but not appreciated:

The Bible is not an explanation book.

The main purpose of scripture is not to tell us:

  • where the world came from
  • when humans were created
  • where sin came from
  • why the world is like it is
  • what the end times will look like

But wait, doesn’t the Bible address those? Yes, it does. And yes, we should read what it says about them.

But that’s not where the Bible’s power lies.
That’s not its main thrust.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that.

I used to think that the secret to bringing people to Christ was to show how biblical accounts were superior to secular “alternatives.” So I dove right into the evolution/creation, old earth/young earth, uniformitarianism/flood geology debates, thinking those were the battles worth fighting. To win people to Christ, I need to show people how reasonable the Bible is!—is essentially what I thought.

But now I realize that’s not the point.

The point of the Bible is not to show people that scientific ideas are wrong, or that certain doctrinal ideas are superior to others.

The ultimate point of the Bible
is to help us come face to face
with Jesus Christ.

Have we lost sight of that?

Personally, I think we’re shooting ourselves in the foot when we turn the Bible into a textbook and spend all our time and energy arguing against well-established scientific ideas. I don’t think honest scientific inquiry—geology, biology, etymology, etc.—is an affront to God.

I’m afraid we spend so much time focusing on secondary when? and what? and how? questions that we lose sight of the big why? questions.

We get all tied up in questionable debates.

In so doing, we lose sight of Jesus.

“To believe in God, faith and the importance of religious practice does not involve an abdication of the intellect, a silencing of critical faculties, or believing in six impossible things before breakfast.”

Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership

Even though the Bible helps us appreciate the spiritual significance of things that we see here on earth—even seemingly ordinary and mundane things like rain, sunrises, and politics—scriptures’ main purpose is not to explain where stuff came from.

“Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.”

Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership

Again, the ultimate goal of the Bible is to help you and me come face to face with Jesus.

These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:31

Furthermore, the Bible is not just a book to be read and understood, but a book to be challenged and changed by.

“It is enormously important that we see the role of scripture not simply as being to provide true information about, or even a running commentary upon, the work of God in salvation and new creation, but as taking an active part within that ongoing purpose. … Scripture is there to be a means of God’s action in and through us.”

N.T. Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God

God’s word is living and active.
Treating it as a mere explanation book
or some sort of textbook is a shame.
It’s so much more than that.

Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24

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