So, if you read my previous post you might be wondering where I stand in relationship the the Bible. While I did mention that I wondered how much influence the Roman Emperor and the leaders at that time had, especially when the creeds were created and the sacraments were noted, I still stand behind the Bible we have for a number of reasons.
The biggest reason I would say is related to what has come to be known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. We use the minds God has given us (reason) with the traditions and our experiences to find the application of the stories within the Bible. Dallas Willard in Living in Christ’s Presence and other writings makes a statement that we find out whether Jesus’ words are true by applying them to our lives. As we do so, especially the main portion of Jesus’ teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, we will find out by reason and experience that there is some power in putting Jesus’ words into practice. The tradition part is the area I believe that gets us hung up. Whose tradition do we trust? If we are reading Christ backward, that is looking back to the latest scholar’s ideas and tracing them back through Paul to see Jesus I believe it leads us off course. But if we start with the Old Testament and look at Christ with a more Jewish perspective (remember Christ was a Jew) and see how the early followers put that into practice (not necessarily circumcision but the understanding of reality… see 2 posts ago) we will be able to see clearer that tradition is important.
There are some very interesting books that are not in the Bible and I have read a bit of them. There have also been may arguments for why certain books are included. Martin Luther did not like the book of James, but really emphasized Romans. John Wesley on the other hand thought James was a necessary and powerful book. I personally continue to struggle with certain parts of Scripture and the understanding I am adopting at this time. I used to think of myself as a conservative Christian, but there were just some areas that my experience taught me I was not in sync with God’s spirit. But even so, I believe the Bible, the collection of 66 books handed to me as the Bible, to be what 2 Timothy 3:16 indicates; “Every Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.” Even though this comes from Paul’s writings before the cannon we have is set.