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Sola Scriptura: Does Following the Bible Equal Following The Lord?

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Hi Jon!

Have you done any writings on Sola Scriptura and how it relates to body life today?

Although it seems like a good concept, I have seen it used to prevent the working of the Holy Spirit from being recognized. And it’s clear we don’t follow Sola Scriptura in either institutional churches (which say they are Sola Scriptura) or in organic groups.

Is Sola Scriptura a good concept? Is it a godly principle or just man’s logical thinking (Scripture is from God, God is good, Scripture is good, etc)? Was it around prior to the reformation?

Lately I’ve been thinking Sola Scriptura isn’t right at it’s core, but I’m having a hard time sorting the concept from the practice I was under.

Thanks for any help you can provide! Jodi

Jodi –

What I’ve put together in this response to you has condensed boatloads of history and thought into a crisp summary that will hopefully be helpful in sorting out the important issues you raise. I have tried not to oversimplify, and I hope that my basic historical observations are useful in shedding some light on the concept of Sola Scriptura.

Basically, Sola Scriptura has proven itself to be a worthless concept. It came out of the Protestant Reformation’s Five Sola’s – Sola Scriptura; Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solo Christo and Soli Deo Gloria.

The Sola’s came to be expressed by the Protestant Reformers in reaction to Roman Catholic teachings and practices. Catholicism gave the impression to those in her fold that the Institution, with its hierarchy/clergy, stood as a mediator between God and the laity. The Reformers wished to affirm that truth was found in Scripture, not in the numerous human traditions invented by the RCC. Hence, Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone.

Sola Scriptura was a noble appeal, but this slogan brought closure to nothing. The Reformers ended up separating from each other and going in different directions. They expressed their in-house differences in quite volatile ways – all the while claiming Sola Scriptura. The Reformers also created their own human traditions that had no footing in Scripture.

So, realistically, what meaning would Sola Scriptura have had in the course of church history up to 1600?

What would Sola Scriptura have meant in the early church? Nothing. They didn’t have a “New Testament.” You might say that some people could orally quote the OT, but the OT couldn’t answer many “New Covenant” issues that would develop. From 30 to 50 AD there were no New Covenant writings, yet the Lord’s work went powerfully forward. Steve Crosby’s article, “You Can’t ‘Study’ to Be ‘Approved’” (ST, 39:3-4, 2013) is helpful in amplifying this point.

What would Sola Scriptura have meant from 250AD to 1600AD? Nothing. The Scriptures were kept from the “laity” and were exclusively in the hands of the “clergy.”

There was no “Bible” until 400AD. And then the only Bible version was the Latin Vulgate done by Jerome. This was the only “Bible” until the late Middle Ages when versions in German and English began to appear. The Vulgate was never circulated publicly.

Even after the invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century, the Bible came into the hands of some people, but still very few could afford a copy (or have the ability to read it). The ideal of every family, or every person, having their own copy of the Bible is a post-1800 notion.

From an empirical standpoint, Sola Scriptura has had little force or usefulness. Since 1500 church leaders and “lay” people — even many cults — have exclaimed “Sola Scriptura.” Yet, what have we ended up with? There are 25,000 denominations, a gezillion dogmatic and contradictory interpretations of the Bible, and endless strife about which group is closest to the truth. All of this and more has happened while everyone involved has cried out, “We practice Sola Scriptura — we go by the Bible alone — if the Bible says something, that settles it for us.” It is clear that at the end of the day Sola Scriptura falls from the lips of many, but really accomplishes nothing practical for the ongoing problems facing the body of Christ.

We must face the reality that what Sola Scriptura actually means for many is that they equate their interpretation of Scripture with God’s mind: “My way is Yahweh.” It is of utmost importance to see the huge chasm between what the Bible says, and what humans interpret it to mean. The way it works out too often is that Sola Scriptura is linked to the way individuals/groups understand the Bible. This probably helps us discern why there has been so much division among those heralding the Sola Scriptura shibboleth.

In the midst of all of this dogmatic talk of Sola Scriptura, a tragedy of monumental proportions has taken place. This tragedy is often subtle, affects many well-intentioned people, and yet is a reality that has planted itself right in our front yard. In America there is the fairly prevalent notion that “Bible knowledge equals knowing the Lord.” My observation over the years is that many are infected with this misnomer. I suggest that there are a number of religious traditions which feed and exalt the head over the heart. Paul crisply captured what should be our Christ-reality — “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray also with the mind; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing also with the mind.”

It pains my heart to say this, but in America there are various religious forces that combine to bring many people to function as if their relationship is with a Book, not a Person. People often say, “We thank you, Lord, that we can gather around Your Word [the Bible].” Are we to gather around the Scriptures or around the Living Christ? This is not to quibble over words. There is all the difference in the world between saints meeting around a Book or a Person – and it is too easy to slip into the fallacy that meeting around a book is synonymous with meeting around the Person. As Clyde Reid noted in The God-Evaders (1966), it is a fact that people hide behind Bible study and church services to avoid having a living encounter with Christ.

Do we project the churchy way we do things back into the past? Do we just assume that first-century believers met in front of a pulpit, listening to a sermon every week? One sister on Facebook made a remark that assumes what is simply not the case.

We are deluded if we think we can be a Christian and not read The Bible. The answers are within. Reading just once is not enough either. (7-24-2013)

This would mean that the majority of believers from 30AD through 1800AD would be lost because they did not read the Bible. Her statement assumes what is not true: that all believers had possession of a Bible and the literacy level necessary to read it.

We need to recall that when the early church gathered together, they had no scrolls in their laps. They came together and shared the rivers of living water flowing from Christ through them. They had no written texts in front of them, but the Living Christ was expressing Himself through each believer. Note: even though the early believers brought no Book to the gatherings, every person who came was a living letter written by Christ, not in ink, but by the Spirit of the living God. Is it possible that our fixation on a printed Book has contributed significantly to our not hearing Christ through the living epistles gathered together? Are we aware of the fact that even the idea of each person having their own copy of a Bible is a very recent historical phenomenon? (See F.F. Bruce, The History of the English Bible, 3rd Edition).

Doesn’t a lot of our problem stem from the fact that when we read certain words and phrases in the Writings, we assume that “the Bible” is in view? For example, when Jesus said, “sanctify them through Your truth, Your Word is truth,” do we assume that Jesus was talking about “the Bible”? Many take “the word of God” in Hebrews 4:12 as referring to “the Bible,” yet the context shows that a Person is in view, not a Book. Keep in mind, “the Bible” as we know it did not exist as an entity until 400AD. Do we not know that Jesus Christ Himself is the Truth, that He is the Word of God?

A spin-off from our fixation on the Bible is that there is the real possibility that we will become letter-oriented instead of Spirit-led. The Spirit inspired the Scriptures, but if the Bible is not approached and handled in a Christ-centered way, it becomes a dangerous tool that is used to justify abuse, create division and false teaching. We must recall that during the most explosive period of the body of Christ, 30-50AD, they did not have a Book to bring to the meetings. In fact, from 250AD to 1800AD, it would have been ludicrous and laughable for the person up front to say to those assembled, “Turn in your Bibles to Mark, chapter six.” Haven’t most of us assumed that in the course of church history people had access to the Bible just like we do, when in fact before 1800 such access was rare and very limited in scope?

The Scriptures are important. The problems are with how the Bible is used, not with the Bible itself. Father has Spirit-inspired them, and their sole purpose is to reveal the Son. T.C. Moore gets to the point:

The key to the Bible is Jesus. The point of the Bible is Jesus. The God of the Bible is Jesus. Any discussion of the Bible that does not lead to a discussion of Jesus misses the point.

For people to proudly confess “Sola Scriptura” has proven for centuries to resolve nothing at all. In fact, the slogan has contributed in no small way to the multiplication of divisions. It has been repeated as a mantra for a long time now, and all we have is a jumbled mess and a pie cut up into 25,000 pieces.

Why can’t we begin and end with Solo Christo – Christ alone?

–  Jon Zens, January 1, 2015

[Suggested further reading: James D.G. Dunn, Jesus, Paul & the Gospels, Eerdmans, 2011; Dennis Mulkey, Treason Against Christ: Reclaiming the Authentic Identity of the Word of God, Tate Publishing, 2011; Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture, Brazos Press, 2011; Charles J. Wilhelm, Biblical Dyslexia: Overcoming the Barriers to Understanding Scripture, Xulon Press, 2004; Jon Zens, “Moses Wrote of Me,” Searching Together, 14:2, 1985].

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Comments

  1. Good word.

  2. First time commenter here and not a regular reader of your blog, so please correct me if I mischaracterize your argument in this post. And apologies for writing a blog-length comment.

    Simply put, the answer to your final question, “Why can’t we begin and end with Solo Christo – Christ alone?” is the answer to another question: how can we know Christ? And for that, we’ve got four options: a) Reason, b) Experience of the Spirit, c) Church Tradition, and d) Scripture. These options aren’t mutually exclusive–some combination of all four is used by most Christians–but there’s always some sort of ordering of importance. It’s difficult to judge what your ordering would be because your post lacks clarity on what you’re ultimately saying (are you against Sola Scriptura itself, unfortunate consequences of Sola Scriptura, or merely a misunderstanding of Scripture–and what alternative do you propose?), but your discussion of church history makes me think your ordering would be something like: 1) Experience of the Spirit (who reveals Christ), 2) Scripture, and then 3-4) reason and tradition in some order. That’s a recipe for disaster, in my opinion (cf. extreme Pentecostal movements and the current mainline churches who have “followed the Spirit” into all sorts of areas that contradict Scripture).

    Sola Scriptura, as the Reformers discussed it, offers a different order: 1) Scripture, 2) Tradition, 3) Experience of the Spirit, 4) Reason (though reason and experience could be interchangeable). (Note: this is not “Solo Scriptura,” which you seem to be arguing against, that claims 1) Scripture and 2) Nothing else). Again, these four categories aren’t mutually exclusive, but they do present a hierarchy of importance. The very early Christians may not have had Scripture in the #1 slot, but they did have “the apostles’ teaching.” And while the Spirit may have overridden the apostles’ teaching at certain points (re: Peter’s refusal to eat with Gentiles), the Spirit then convicted and used those same apostles as authoritative mouthpieces to proclaim the truth He wanted all Christians to know (cf. Acts 15). So even from the beginning, the teaching of the apostles—later collected in the New Testament—have always had authoritative pride of place for the Church.

    Of course all Christians should have Christ at the forefront of their minds and hearts and Moore’s quote is entirely correct. And if that is all you want to communicate, then by all means do so. But you do more than suggest that Christ is the telos of Scripture’s teaching when you call Sola Scriptura “worthless,” and the question immediately arises: How do we know this Christ? While there are a few ways to answer that, I’ll stick with Sola Scriptura as the Reformers expressed it (and not as it is caricatured re: SOLO Scriptura). I think it’s unhelpful and even irresponsible for you to deride it as a “worthless concept,” especially without offering a clear alternative. Church history has attested for almost 2000 years that Scripture enjoys pride of place as the record of apostolic teaching each time it has said, “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and APOSTOLIC church.” If we’re going to have any conversation, it should be about what role the Magisterium plays in offering apostolic teaching (cf. the book by Smith that you recommend), though even the RCC would not suggest that the apostolic teaching contained in Scripture is somehow inferior to that of the Magisterium (cf. Dei Verbum, Vatican II).

    I may have misread you, so please correct me, but I also suggest that you have opened yourself to misunderstanding by devoting your post to critiquing Sola Scriptura without defining the alternative of “Solo Christo” that you propose or demonstrating how “Solo Christo” would bring unity to some 25,000 theological differences that you see.

    Respectfully dissenting without any intention of trolling,

    Will

    • Thanks, Will, for your well-ordered comments. It would seem that the verdict of history shows “sola scriptura” to be meaningless. The vast majority of believers from 30AD to 1800 did not have a “Bible” as we know it. I may not have made it well, but my main point is that the Lord’s ekklesia has never been text-driven, but driven by Christ’s life in each believer. During the unbelievable expansion of the Lord from 30AD to 50AD, there were no New Covenant writings. Sure, apostolic teaching was present, but communication was oral during this time. Christ’s life was blossoming in people, but there was no Book. Christ poured out the Spirit on Pentecost, and that was the driving force of the spiritual explosion that took place. This is a vast oversimplification, but we must wrestle with the broad reality that when the early ekklesia had no Book, Christ’s power was massively evident, and when the institutionalized church came to focus on a Book, the glory had departed (Ichabod). The early ekklesia had rivers of living water, but no Book. The later church had a Book, but the flowing water had dried up. The problem is not with the Book. Christ’s life in the body, however, precedes a Book.

  3. Jon:

    This was a timely post for me. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. There seem to be so many, particularly in the Reformed movement, that equate the scripture with Jesus. But, John 5:39 always comes to my mind when I hear a pastor elevate scripture too highly. The Pharisees were searching the scriptures for the Messiah but He was standing right front of them. Jesus told them they were looking in the scriptures but He was what they were looking for. It really highlights the distinction for me about desiring a person and not a book.

    On another note, my wife and I will be attending the Norcal event in a few months. We’ve recently left our church after a year of waiting on the Lord for instructions on what to do about an organic expression of the body of Christ in Cincinnati. We’re looking forward to meeting some brothers and sisters that are all about Christ – even if they are likely many, many miles from us.

  4. Excellent sharing of the Truth in Love Jon! Sola Scriptura is a lie! I follow a person and not a book and Jesus is that person.

  5. Linda Tucker says:

    The Word of God always confirms Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ always confirms His Word. The Scriptures are not just words on a page, the Scriptures are His Word on my hesrt

  6. Nicholas Exner says:

    Thank you for your article, was encouraging. I spent a wasted portion of my life in the “theological zone” , fighting for concepts and doctrinds while being so desperate inside, trying to bypass my heart. The religious guys always had a theological question (philoxophical question), but he always rerouted to their heart, intentions. Its a tradition that if you don’t read the bible every day God will be upset, as if the Father’s intention was for us to just learn a lot of theory and not live in a real relationship. Scripture is great but people forget how the true God of heaven spoke to individuals throughout history, they got to know himd apart from just ideas they had read. I used to dislike the Psalms as there WaS no doctrine to be rigid about, but I love them, David being real AND prophetic.

  7. Dr Zens, I have replied to this article. I sincerely believe that it is not a helpful addition to the conversation.

    • Thanks, Alan. Some of the things you point out do not seem relevant to the main points I was making. Some of what you say does not speak to the issues I was raising. The fact remains that in the most explosive period from 30-50AD the believers had no Book to bring to the gatherings. The early church was driven by Christ’s coming on the Day of Pentecost in the Spirit. “I will come to you.” My observation is that because of various factors the visible church has become Book-centered rather than Christ-in-you driven.

  8. Rod McCarthy says:

    Today many know the bible, but have never had God become real to them. Most people have never had God make himself known to them even through a beautiful sunset. To most God is just history, or he is way off in space somewhere. The importance is not in experiences, but instead experiencing God. I contend, you have to experienced God. Possibly he opens the scriptures to you, and makes them come alive; they became a “word” of God to you.

    It would be like you and I having coffee everyday together, sharing life and all things included. We would age together and become deep friends. We may never have a spiritual experience, but we would definitely experience each other, as Moses experienced God at the tent, when Miriam and Aron spoke against Moses, and God spoke about how He and Moses were friends. Moses experienced God. God was experienced by everyone we read about in the OT and the NT.

    You know the parable of the sower, the seeds sown by Jesus, and the seeds sown by the Devil. Those seeds manifest themselves for what they really are. These are people, could be religious, like the pharisees, who were called children of the devil by Jesus. They may be the nicest, sweetest people, but what seed are they of?

    I fear that the so-called church, the large visible body that meets on the corner of every city in America is missing God. There are many within this so-called visible church (though fewer in number) that truly belong to Jesus, these are the invisible church. From my point of view, the visible church has sprung up not from experiencing God, but from its exposure to the bible “The Scriptures”, but this is not necessarily so, of the invisible church “The Ecklesia”.

    For example most people throughout history couldn’t read, we had no printing presses, and when printed most people couldn’t afford the bible, this is seen during the dark ages, yet the ecklesia thrived. How? It wasn’t because they had a bible; it was because God was real and made himself known to them. Possibly through someone who had a bible, but probably not.

    Brother Lawrence / Laubach; in his book practicing the presence; makes the claim that God became real to him, by seeing a tree losing it leaves, knowing life would again come to the tree the following year.

    Here forgive me…. Let me expound more and just be open, even though we don’t know each other, possibly we can glean from one another as two who see the forest from different angles?

    Could it be, that True and False Christianity…Are both produced by the Bible. Everything is about contrast (light, dark, evil, and good), or it’s to express God’s glory, and his many attributes…God even created evil for this purposes.

    The contrast in Christianity is the true church, and the false church. The invisible ecklesia -vs- the large visible body of people in every church, on every corner. The wheat, and the chaff or tare. The good seed and the bad seed. The Pharisee, and Jesus, sheep and Goats, Light and darkness.

    Today is a replay of the life of Jesus in his body singular (the one that died on the cross); now this body “His Body” is plural, many membered…The same prosecutions, torments, dying, will happen in us as it did in him. Now the Pharisees are the religious of today. True Christianity and false Christianity, is so close, to the real church, the real walk, the real life…So close that it could even fool the elect, if that were possible….

    So how does God establish the tare, this large so-called church. Do we see it throughout time? Yes, and it all started with two trees. The tree of life, and the tree of knowledge. We see the essence of these two trees, in many forms. One is in the visible church, and the invisible church, the wheat and tare.

    The large visible church exists and is sustained by the visible, tangible, written word (The Bible). They find themselves at home with the text, they can control it, they build laws, rules, religious rituals, and doctrines. By this same knowledge they also remove God, who is Spirit, out of their midst, issues of control, a form of religion, and rules, that denies the power thereof. There is no body ministry, led of God’s Spirit.

    Do you think this would all be obvious, and plainly visible, or only visible to us by discernment? It had to be hidden, even from those who were in the midst of it, or else they would not have participated. Both sides, real and false are hidden, even from themselves. If not hidden, you couldn’t get anyone to participate in this plan of God.

    I’m not against these people; most are genuine, nice, sweet people. But we are discussing truth here. Now God is revealing these things to us, and getting ready to reveal us to each other, to reveal the true church to herself, to reveal the false church to the true.

    While most of the members of both groups are wonderful people and well intentioned, the visible false church, is still like the Pharisees of old. They search the scriptures daily, but won’t come to Christ, that they might have life. In fact they were never destined to life, this is what the scriptures say, the body / the ecklesia / the invisible church has life, they were destined to life, from the beginning.

    The true body, the ecklesia exist by “the word”, they know a hidden walk, they know the masters voice. This has got to be the common denominator throughout time, since many could not read, and the few that could read, didn’t have a copy of the bible. Yet the Ecklesia flourished, even in the dark ages, and in countries that never allowed sacred texts, like China, and Russia…

    Today both flourish, and this thing called church, or churchianity, has said to all, we represent God. But they do not, and God is getting ready to show this world, his true church, the ecklesia….God’s mercy, and the world demand such an event, to rid God, of the stain of falsehood. Whether that be TV preachers, or even all the pain caused to so many in the name of God by so-called Christianity, which was NOT Christianity, but instead, it was this false church the large, visible church, this system.

    God is separating HIS people “The Ecclesia from this thing called church, “churchianity”. He is building his kingdom, it is on the inside. That is what Jesus says.

    There is no way for light and darkness to fellowship together and there is NO way all those people in all these churches are truly born again via an encounter with Christ. That encounter must take place…We must experience God.

    So there is no way they can fellowship with you, or you with them, if you are part of that invisible “REAL” church, for what fellowship does light have with darkness. You might as well go to a Safeway store and try and “do church” with all the people there, it will not work.

    Remember Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice”, and man shall not live by bread alone, the word of the Lord came unto, peter rise and eat, ETC. You see what I mean? “The word of the Lord” via “The scriptures” can become a fresh word to you, but, we can not use the terms “The word” and “the bible” interchangeably.

    The point I’m making is, there is a lot written in the bible about hearing, hardly anything about reading. Everything written in the bible was spoken before it was written. Genesis was spoken, and then written by Moses.

    We must come to a common denominator, for people to receive Christ, to hear the message, or to experience Christianity, and it cannot be the bible, even though God has used the scriptures to do so on occasion. Still I love the scriptures, and they are true, they are God inspired. They have just been elevated to a position by this false church, where they have taken the place of God.

    Also to express my point, do this: Every place in the scriptures where it says, “the word” or “the word came unto” replace every instance with “The bible”….It just will not make sense…

    As far as people hearing “The word” vs studying “The scriptures” I see a big difference between the two. One is heard, one is read. Many can read, few can hear. One is always spoken, and one is written, but can be made alive to you, and become a spoken word. God also speaks apart from the scriptures, remember God spoke to Adam and Moses before there was a written bible.

    Thus we have interchanged the two, elevating “The bible” above God, and the leading of the Spirit, and we have placed the bible above “The Word”…

    I wonder, could we say that we love the scriptures, and that they are inspired, but God never meant for us to live by them, nor the Jewish people the Torah. But instead by the Spirit / the word / His breath…His words of promise, leading us into all truth?

    We have two types of church. Those led by the Spirit, and those seeing and leaning only on “The book”. I love the scriptures, and I have several bibles. BUT we must not elevate the bible above God, and I’m afraid that is what many churches (people) have done.

    The “Word” and “The bible” are not one and the same…The common denominator throughout time Has been God reaching out to man, possibly by a sunset, or a person who was “LED” of the spirit to witnesses to you, or God speaks to you, but God has not, at all times used the bible. Of course there are times that the Spirit moves someone, through the use of Scripture, but that is not my point.

    What do we say of the first 3000 years of man, until Moses wrote the Torah, where was God? He was doing what he has always done, personally interacting with man.

    The faith we have is more than intellectual knowledge, it IS LIFE…Two trees were in the garden; today we face that same thing? “Knowledge” OR “Life”…

  9. Rod McCarthy says:

    We see a very brief but good explanation of “THE WORD” In Hebrews 4:12

    For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart …

    But the first time we see mention of the word is in Genesis 1:3
    And God said…

    Then we see the word mentioned several times in the OT for example Jeremiah 32
    Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah…

    Then in John 1
    And the word became flesh (past tense, meaning it was something else before see Genesis 1 above).

    Then we see it in the NT happening to Peter (rise and eat), to Phillip (go next to the chariot), and to Paul (Why do you persecute me).

    So we have two things described in the bible…The scriptures; and the word of God, these are 2 different things, but in churches they are seen as one.

    We need both in our lives. The word of God is named in the book of revelation and his name is written on his thigh, the person is identified as Jesus.

  10. Erik Merksamer says:

    What exactly is “inspiration of the Holy Spirit” in regards to how Scripture is written? How different, or similar, is it from what we all are said to experience today with the indwelling Spirit of the Living Christ?

    For example, when we prophesy today, or sense Holy Spirit prompting us to say something to someone, is that “inspiration”? Or, do people believe God dictating each verse of Scripture word for word? And if so, how? I really want to know how that happened.

    • Huge question! “The Spirit of Christ who was in them testified…” The Spirit testifies of Christ. Christ by the Spirit is in us. When the Spirit in others shows us Christ, that is certainly a form of inspiration. The Spirit-inspiration of Scripture means that I pay attention to it in a totally different way than when I read Origen or Augustine. If Paul said this is a meal, and Aquinas says that it is a sacrament, I go with Paul.

  11. Andrew P. Yocum says:

    Jon and everyone, thank you for showing your hearts . And speaking The Truth in Love . I’ve had a Brother in The Lord, who lives in Hagerstown, MD. . Recommend this Site, for me to checkout . I am glad I did .
    God bless all you all ! And my The Love of Jesus ( The Gospel ) always Shine Through .

  12. Mark Kelly Green says:

    This was a wonderful discussion. I struggle to explain my experiences of God’s active involvement and intrusion in my life to people that are so focused on the biblical text that to them God is just a concept. The Greek words of logos and rhema bring some of this to surface, but your well spoken responses are appreciated. His presence is everything, and since The Spirit testifies of the truth, because the Spirit is truth we can trust God in so much more than is commonly preached in America.

  13. I appreciate the opportunity to respectfully dissent.
    The problem is, how do we know what is true before God without the eternal word to test it against? The Berea’s were highly commended by Paul for testing everything he said with the word. Shouldn’t we do the same?
    Isaiah and Peter both pointed out that men will fade away like grass…but the written word will never, ever fade away. Jesus even used the written word against Satan all 3 times when he was tempted. He didn’t make up a new saying or revelations to fight Satan, for He knew the inherent power of God’s word…God himself, the one who is before all things and in whom all things hold together, used the written word to fight the enemy of God and mankind. Jesus even tells his Father in John 17 that His word(written word) is truth. So…the God of all things says to His Father, the Ancient of Days, that ….the word is truth. Even the Psalmist in Psalm 119 goes on and on about the eternal riches found in the scriptures.
    Jesus and Paul speak very frequently and very clearly about the false prophets and teachers who will rise up from AMONGST the brethren, masquerading as angels of light, speaking soothing lies which tickle the ears of believers who don’t really love the truth, which is found in the word. These false teachers will enrich and empower themselves…only to end up where they belong. Check this excellent scripture based blog by an anonymous author setting forth the pure truth of God via the written word.
    Men can make up all kinds of crazy revelations, and say they are from God. But we, like the Bereans and like the Ephesians (who were told to learn the word lest they be tossed to and fro by every wind of teaching), MUST test everything with the eternal word of God. As Hebrews 10 says, the word of the Lord is living and active, sharper than a double edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart…The words of men have no such affect, especially when they are lying to build up their reputations and bank accounts.
    Paul also teaches us that all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching and training and even rebuking if done in love. Are the words of men full of this kind of power? Maybe on rare occasion if quoting scripture in truth and love…but maybe not. Why take the risk when we have the engrafted word which can teach us all things?
    The early church copied and passed around the epistles for centuries until they were codified into the Bible, which the church immediately and successfully hid from the common man. Now we have it…in our homes and on our phones. IT ALONE IS OBJECTIVE TRUTH. Let us stick with that truth and ignore every man who says things that don’t agree with it, no matter how pleasant or spiritual it sounds.

    Peace through Jesus Christ my friends.

    • Thanks for your comments. You make some valid points, but do they negate the essence of what I was saying? The point I tried to emphasize is phenomenon in which people end up meeting around a Book and not a Person. Such people assume that meeting around a Book is virtually synonymous with meeting around Christ. It just isn’t. Christian Smith’s book is invaluable in this regard.

  14. I agree with it in the sense that if we don’t live it it is all worthless. But I think that is obvious to pretty much anyone who has any kind of understanding of life with Jesus.

    This feels like a false flag in that I don’t know ANYONE anymore who worships the Bible. Sure – it might have been a primarily academic exercise to some 40 years ago…but now, it is the exact opposite. The new, young, hip reformers and mega-church people are denigrating and dismissing the Bible, or at least minimizing it’s importance as the sword of truth and eternal word of God. Everyone hates doctrine now and says that we should just love and experience Christ in all kinds of fraudulent ways.
    Paul makes it clear on numerous occasions that doctrine is absolutely critical(Titus 2, 2 Timothy 4, etc), and since the work of God is to believe per John 6, we MUST know and teach the correct things to believe….and then walk it out in love. But again, this is obvious and just feels like an opportunity to sort of diminish the word.

    So anyone claiming that people are worshipping the Bible today are pretty much out of touch. It’s kind of like the media using the obnoxious jerks at Westboro Baptist church to shame all of Christendom into remaining silent regarding clear biblical statements on morality. The unchanging word of God just ain’t cool anymore so people pick and choose what they like and don’t like, and manufacture a Jesus to fit their image. So I think this debate is crap, and I will fight for the unceasing use of the mighty sword of the spirit which is the word, and I will continually seek to, through the Spirit, walk out every thing it teaches the deep places of my heart.

  15. (Repost as the system removed my not equal signs)

    Please forgive another blog-length comment…

    My thoughts on Letter vs. SpiritLetter vs. Spirit

    [All scripture references from the Yes Word (Tyndale-Modern English), available for free, from http://www.thysayingistruth.com]

    Consider Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus:
    [John 3:3-5]
    Jesus answered and said unto him: Verily, verily I say unto thee: except a man be born a new, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said unto him: how can a man be born when he is old? can he enter into his mothers womb and be born again? Jesus answered: verily, verily I say unto thee: except that a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    Seeing != Entering

    Moses, who represents the law, saw, but did not enter, because of unbelief. Joshua, a type of Christ, by the promise of the spirit, through the water (baptism), entered.

    Consider Jesus upbraiding the religious people:
    [John 5:39-40]
    Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And yet will ye not come to me, that ye might have life.

    Consider Paul addressing the Corinthians:
    [2Cor 3:1-6]
    We begin to praise ourselves again. Need we as some other, of Epistles of recommendation unto you? or letters of recommendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, which is understood and read of all men, in that ye are known, how that ye are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us and written, not with ink: but with the spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.
    Such trust have we through Christ to God ward, not that we are sufficient of our selves to think anything as it were of our selves but our ableness cometh of God, which hath made us able to minister the new testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

    Illustrated in this parable:
    [Matt 25:1-4…]
    Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went to meet the bridegroom: five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The foolish took their lamps, but took none oil with them. But the wise took oil with them in their vessels with their lamps also…

    The foolish virgins representing religions (woman=religion; body of Christ=church; woman=body) without the spirit (oil=anointing).

    [Eph 5:25-32]
    Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the congregation, and gave himself for it, to sanctify it, and cleansed it in the fountain of water through the word, to make it unto himself, a glorious congregation without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blame. So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh: but nourisheth and cherisheth it even as the Lord doth the congregation. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall continue with his wife, and two shall be made one flesh. This is a great secret, but I speak between Christ and the congregation.

    [Lev 21:10]
    He that is the high priest among his brethren upon whose head the anointing oil was poured

    [Ps 133:2]
    It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down unto the beard: and went down to the skirts of his clothing.

    Bible != Word of God
    Jesus = Word of God

    [Rev 19:12-13]
    His eyes were as a flame of fire: and on his head were many crowns: and he had a name written, that no man knew but him self. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and his name is called the word of God.

    [John 1:1-2]
    In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God: and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

    Scripture = Scripture

  16. Hi Jon, love the article, nice to see the truth told once and while. Most communications were oral, led along by fudged documents that came later on, to support Constantine’s headship and those after him… The KJV shifted away form the truth of Tyndale’s work, sad part is how fast people will idolize books, buildings, clothes, offices, and titles, much of which were never found in their ways or combinations with one another till much later as money and power took over the hearts of it’s twisted leaders…thus a legal spirit is born.

    My research took me through pgs Hopwood’s of work on the Primitive Church or assembly, his own words “they were shot through and through of the Holy Spirit, operated freely within their ranks allowing a manifesting God to use them, their were no temple priests or sacred objects,or clergy. Elders were lovers of the body, often older and able to assist the younger in the family lives by experience and living their were no entitled leaders etc, their were those who love it was said he who loved most would be know among them and sought out as he was willing to risk much for faith, had nothing to do with money or professionalism which established it self using the pagan models. Later on which deadened the once spirit led body, into hiding and being persecuted by those who made themselves kings, and shifted over from a revelatory- led body to the gnosis-based human philosophy often mixed with both mystics’ teachings out side the apostles teachings and the Holy Spirit was soon controlled by the few by the edict of Cyprian that only those who wrote themselves in now placed them selves above or in the place of God as the transmission of the gift s of the spirit the body to be users of the gifts.

    Thus the end of the spirit led body gave way to sophistry and Alexandrian teachings, love the article a huge break through to see some serious honesty on the topic… It was Ireaneus who said they now have the book and rule of faith, but no longer possessed the Spirit nor the powers there of.” That was hundreds of years after the apostles, amazing to see how fast the effort to suck the life out of the spirit led body took place. The real question for us all is worship in truth and spirit, how to get back to honest truth…mixed in with some mystical psychology functions of terms and conditions it’s amazing, agree deeply and respect someone coming forward with some truthful explanations.
    narrowway

  17. MARK MCCULLEY says:
  18. Amen, keep in mind love, the sad part is their no real history teaching on the early assembly as should have been all along, Sadly stuff was done to slant things in the favor the corrupted power desires….lot was kept silent..JESUS warned of the wisdom of men, later Paul warned of the influence of pagan philosophy, all which did come through later on, and mixed it in by various leaders …, got us divided and unknowing….

    Will let’s be brave enough to be truthful God sees, let’s change live for him. each of us are his temple, amazing God is Spirit and lives in us. Maybe like the little boy who asked me, so why are we so divided? He was 13, his words none of them talk to each other, one building to another, the lost see us guys, , . All done out side of faith is sin? Amazing God seems to have an interest in truth, and spirit led, over philosophy and that which came out of the mystics of the mystery religions….

    It’s joy to see it all so well put forward, people think about how each one of us in Christ great or small, God sees us for who we are , I was stunned when I saw the truth on the assembly and all the added stuff by spending a year of doctorate in early history, lot of stuff came at me.

    I to believe we all give thanks for seeing some honest questions answered and effort to be truthful wherever it leads; love to you, pray for the nation, we need them all.

    God bless you all , thanks Jon

  19. I was delighted to see the conversation, one can not leave the literal issues of translation what took place that led men such as Tyndale exposing the twisted words used to sustain the priest craft form later on seeing green in the kj3 remove the very word church due to it’s dark origins and connection to sustain the monarchal forms of government and human hierarchal offices which more in line with forms implemented by nimrod to lord it over shem and later matured and into destruction of Israel’s relationship with God, and later through secret societies into the Biblical text has now come to light through the Stuart dynasty as merely one example . . thanks much It has always been all about us coming back to where God wanted us in the beginning ,a relationship, JESUS IS THAT SORUCE OF LIFE , the very words of 1 Corinthians 1-4 imply connection awareness and spirit ledness through both of Paul’s letters one can see the depth of that desire and request that all done out side of faith is sin remains largely unanswered nearly two millenniums latter.

    I thank the sources such as green, zen compel, Fairbairn and Tyndale, Franz Corument, Hopwood , Luther’s desire to get back the geminde , or a simple gathering, like it was in the beginning ,Spirit led , And many others who wrote of the turns things took, that led us away seeking to get back to Christ alone not plus something extras ,

    I added this quote the alarming free fall of drugs and the occult world gone for long time often unchecked and doubted is now here in full color.. and expanding very fast as the doubt laid it self into a state of eyes open but wide shut, We can change thanks those here thinking much deeper willing to know the truth and act by faith and the deep centrality of JESUS, and his relationship to us and through us more than just parroting the traditional mantras…LOVE TO ALL
    quote !
    Beloved, the average Christian, seated in the average Church today, is being fed a steady diet of salvation sermons and “warmed-over psychology,” with no teaching whatsoever on the enemy! Oh, the devil and hell are mentioned just enough to try to scare someone into “making a decision for Christ,” but anything of real substance relative to the subject of spiritual warfare is totally lacking.

    Do you know why? The simple, but devastating, truth is that your preachers are ignorant of spiritual warfare! They were not taught this in seminary and most have made no effort to learn it on their own. The emphasis is on numbers while the enemy is savaging the sheep left and right. A good general would never dream of sending his troops into battle without first giving them at least a minimum of training. with one of the most important points of that training to be how to recognize and neutralize the enemy! But Christians are being sent out to fight the original “unconventional war” without a real clue as to the stated aims and strategies of the “dark side” (and if you think that “Star Wars” creator George Lucas invented the term, your ignorance is showing!).

    cheers just maybe before the next few hundred years we might finally make the circle, just thinking

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