I've been challenged with that same statement by someone I came to love and respect. "The Bible is not the Word of God, Jesus is". It was someone who knew the Scriptures well, though, and quoted them often.
I think the statement is really a reaction to the way the Scriptures have been used (misused) to promote various propositions, divisions, and power structures over the person of Christ himself.
Personally, I don't like the way we talk about the Bible as a single book - all nice and neat in one cover. I think cannonization was one of many historical rabbit trails that did far more damage than good. Before that, believers just had to dialog together about their various writings to test them and think them through. Most believers have no idea how or why the books of the Bible were selected, or how messy and controversial that process really was. The result is that people forget how to listen to the Spirit of Christ in patient fellowship with one another as they test all things together.
Jess, you must have gotten my message... :) Thank you for stopping by again.
This is a fascinating subject which we can casually explore over time. Thank you Dan for opening it. Somewhere beyond the extremes and reactions must be the truth. Agree or not, we can respect the views of others as best we are able.
Jess, I can understand what you mean by "nice and neat". Haha. "Messy" would be a little more like it with regard to the canon of scripture, especially the New Testament. Does not mankind usually make a mess of things? True, God could have given us golden plates instead of paper and ink. But he didn't. Lucky Mormons.
I suppose you are familiar with Dr. Bart Erhman over in the next big town in NC. He's a famous skeptic, author, and university professor. He rightfully shows how non-simplistic some of these issues really are and therefore rejects the whole thing himself. He's a skeptic with atheistic leanings, so he claims.
Thankfully, he does acknowledge that Jesus Christ really existed and that the Scriptures are the best attested works in ancient literature!
But the Gospel is to believe in Jesus - not to believe that the Bible is 100% free from any sort of error. Therefore, the faith of some of his students is "lost" because... it was a mis-placed faith to begin with. That's sad.
The church was built upon Christ and the apostles. Therefore I am interested in what Christ and his apostles have to say. Most, like their Master, died a martyr's death which gives their writings serious credibility and authority. I am also touched by the fact that they were not trying to profit from the Story. Paul could say: We do not seek yours - but YOU. Where are those kind of preachers today? Instead, too many popular preachers expect us to send them money so that God can make us rich. Smile.
Me, I don't see a contradiction that Jesus and the written truth are the word of God, in some real sense. From the point of a human being, I don't understand why the scriptures and the church itself were not more perfectly preserved - but they were not. Thankfully, no major doctrines of faith are affected, at least in my understanding.
Jesus could pray to his Father: Sanctify them through your word. Your word is truth. Me, I want more Jesus and I want more truth AND more "patient fellowship", as Jess mentioned above.
I would love to know more about how the early Christians "viewed" or "handled" writings such as the Gospel of Mark (probably the first of the gospels, written very early on), or Luke/Acts written by "Dr. Luke" the physician. We know these were not written by apostles - although the apostles were likely available to the authors as resources. They are not written by eyewitnesses of all the events - but by men who perhaps felt compelled to write down what was probably being told and retold in the church gatherings through oral tradition. We know very little about the skills and practices of oral tradition in our electronic "Google it" information age. I imagine it required a lot of patience, listening, and reciting in the group gatherings with careful attention to detail - all of which would fail our modern-day tests for a good church meeting, right? But that's part of our problem - which I'll come back to in a minute.
In the Old Testament era(s), there were signs and wonders to confirm the validity of God's prophets to the immediate audiences, so that their messages carried the weight of "thus saith the Lord". In the New Testament era, where signs and wonders were performed through the "common" worshippers by the Spirit that has been poured out on all flesh, there seemed to be a sense that the Lord himself could speak at any moment through any believer. However, the message still had to be tested against what God had already revealed (1 Thess 5:19-22). That testing wasn't originally by a council, but by every fellowship and believer - all of whom had access to the same Spirit and Lord.
My point about the "neatness" of our concept of the Bible today is this. Wrapping a subset of writings inside one leather cover, giving the collection a name (The Bible), and declaring it (by the authority of church history) to be the Word of God is not what makes it so. What makes it so or not so is whether or not it truly came from God. The requirement to ask that question did not magically end after the 1st century. I believe we are just as responsible for testing and retesting the writings as the earliest churches were. Don't worry - those writings have passed a lot of generations of testing. But that doesn't mean we can stop thinking about it - because EVERY generation needs to rest on a firmer foundation than "church history says so". Now granted, the testing is hard work - but well worth the effort. By patiently reading, comparing, thinking, praying, teaching, discovering, arguing, debating, and wrestling together in community over the teachings that were written down, we find God masterfully and sovereignly revealing Himself with a unified message that travels in and through the messy lives and languages of human beings. So coming back to our church meetings - how will they look differently if we are doing that work together?