The Bible as 'sacrament'?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Matt Black, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    On other threads on this forum we have discussed the topics of Scriptural inerrancy and sola scriptura which has been accompanied by the usual insistence on a literal interpretation of the same by some posters.

    What I find interesting is that several posters there have stated that, according to them, one can only know Jesus through the Bible (presumably accomapnied by said beliefs in inerrant and literal interpretations).

    What I find interesting in those statements, apart from the blatant Bibliolatry therein, is that they seem to approach the Bible in much the same way as those from perhaps higher church traditions approach the sacraments: a method (for them the only valid method) whereby eg: the Christian encounters and experiences God and one's faith becomes real. Now I accept that there is more to the sacraments in the 'higher churches' than just that, but I find the comparison striking...

    Is such a 'high' view of the Bible as valid and as 'sacramental' as, say, communion, for a High Church Christian to adhere to? If we deny the effect of the sacraments in the Higher traditions, why are some here apparently trying to set up a parallel view of the Bible?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    That is a misunderstanding of "sacrament." A sacrament is something that conveys what it signifies. The Bible is no such thing. The Bible is revelation from God and a high view of it is not bibliolatry at all. It is simply giving it the place it deserves. Idolatry involves the elevation of something to a place it does not deserve. The Bible is not elevated to such a place. In fact, it is usually devalued.

    It is true that one can only know Jesus through the Bible. That is where God has chosen to reveal himself, his son, and the way of eternal life. Far from being bad, that is a good thing. Because of the nature of Scripture as inspired, we can be sure that we actually know the truth about Jesus, rather than having to sift through the records of fallible man.
     
  3. Matt Black

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    What if you can't read, then? Or if you lack the sufficient mental capacity to understand what is being read to you?

    Here's what I posted on the 'Inerrancy' thread:-

    "You asked how do we know Jesus. The main answer for me is "I got to know Him in Church. Where Scripture was read and preached, and the Word stood in the midst. In the total event of evelation which was always - is always - in the hand of Christ. Christ spoke. The inerrancy of the Bible had nothing to do with it. I wasn't saved by the Bible. I was saved by Christ."


    All I'm saying here is be careful of falling into the trap of Bibliolatry, which replaces God and Christ with the Bible. If that's what you mean. And I believe that that is precisely the mistake you're making. You have now as good as said that you have to believe in an inerrant, literal Bible, or you can't be saved, because an inerrant literal Bible is the means of salvation. You're basically adding something to trusting Jesus. You're saying that you can only trust Jesus if the Bible is inerrant and/ or literal - i.e. you can only trust Jesus if you see the Bible in a certain way.

    People have believed in Jesus on the basis of the flawed recollection of a Biblical text quoted from memory to them in a prison cell. People have believed in Jesus on the basis of the lives they have seen influenced by his Lordship over them, before ever they came in contact with the Bible, and thousands more have read the New Testament and believed in Jesus Christ without it ever crossing their mind that they were (or weren't) reading an inerrant or literal book. It was the truth of the testimony that led them to believe, not its inerrancy. It was its power, not its guaranteed correctness. People have come to faith on the basis of paraphrases of the Gospel story muttered after dark in labour camps, which were a proclamation of the Gospel that Christ filled with his presence. The Word Preached is as powerful as the Word Read, because the Word made flesh can fill both. That's the bottom line."


    Sacramentalists would assert that one knows God in and through the sacraments; how is this different from your above statement?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  4. rjprince

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    Matt,

    If one lacks sufficient mental capacity to understand what is read to him, how can he have faith unto salvation, since faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God? If he cannot understand, he cannot express personal faith in Christ.

    Re your knowledge of Jesus as posted on the inerrancy thread your knowledge of Jesus Christ came through the teaching, preaching, and fleshing out of the Word of God. Sometimes the “fleshing out” does not always line up with truth. Sometimes there is hypocrisy and personal sin that distorts the reflection of Jesus in the lives of his children. Sometimes there is hypocrisy, personal sin, pride, and foolishness that distorts the true reflection of Jesus Christ in the preaching and teaching of the written Word as well.

    Certainly it would be “Biblioatry” if someone erected a shrine in their home or their church for the worship of the Bible. It is not “Biblioatry” to understand that God has revealed Himself and His Son in written form and that written form is the Bible, the Word of God. Regarding Jesus being the “Word” standing in our midst, that is a matter of subjective experience!

    OBJECTIVE TRUTH IS NOT FULLY NOR PRECISELY REVEALED IN SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE!!! Objective truth may be confirmed, to some degree, by subjective experience, but there must be an objective standard by which it is measured or our experience becomes the ONLY standard. Recognizing the original autographs as inerrant is not “Biblioatry”, it is Biblical.

    If the Bible is not the standard, what is? Your subjective experience? Mine? The collective subjective experiences of those who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ according to their own subjective experience of the Incarnate Word? I see a serious problem here. If the twelve, after spending three years with Jesus in the flesh, still failed to understand all truth, how can we know it today on the basis of subjective experience in the absence of His literal physical presence?

    A proper view of Scripture does not replace the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit with the Bible, it understands that the Bible is the only objective revelation of God. Anything else depends on our flesh which is weak and corrupt, it depends on our hearts which are deceitful and not to be fully trusted.

    I could be wrong, but I do not think anyone here is saying that printing errors make the Bible unable to save. I do not think anyone here is contending that number difficulties in the OT render the written Word of God powerless to save. Nobody but you, that is.

    Adding something to trusting Jesus? How do we even know about Jesus? How do we know of His preincarnate existence? How do we know what He said? How do we know that He has risen from the dead? How do we know of the miracles that demonstrate His power over all of creation? It is through the written Word. Do you contend that a “written Word” is unnecessary since we have the Living Incarnate Word in our midst when we assemble as a body of believers?

    There are only two choices – either the Bible is the authority, or our subjective experiences and our minds are the authority. Me, I’ll stick with the Bible.

    One more thought on Biblioatry – the only reason we know that idolatry is wrong is because it is objectively stated in the written Word of God. Does accepting that truth on the basis of what we read in the Written Word constitute Biblioatry? Based on your reasoning, there is no way it could not!

    One more thought on Sacramentalism – Sacramentalists do not insist that the only way we know God is through the sacraments. They insist that God is unapproachable apart from the sacraments! Very big difference between us and them.
     
  5. Matt Black

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    But merely a cursory glance at just this Board demonstrates that there is as much subjectivism through the Bible as there is alleged elsewhere in your post. Claiming the Bible provides objectivity is a nice idea - but the posts on this Board alone disprove that very easily.

    I don't see much difference between sacramentalists re the sacraments and fundamentalists re the Bible - just change "unapproachable" to "unknowable" and you'll see what I mean.

    Also, are you seriously saying that the illiterate or those with learning difficulties are damned? :mad:

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  6. rjprince

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    If you think there is subjectivism here, try the campus of a major university! AND, most of the subjectivism here comes from not accepting the clear words of Scripture as the ultimate authority.

    Not at all. Only that a person has to be able to understand the Word of God to express personal faith in the Lord Jesus. The illiterate must hear, not read, in order to be saved.

    "learning difficulties" is a little too broad. Those who are mentally incompetant to the point of being unable to discern basic right and wrong are, I believe, covered somehow by the grace of God. They are safe, but not necessarily "saved". Those who have ADHD do not fit into this category, IMHO.
     
  7. go2church

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    How do we know that any of us are "objectively" saved? Is there a mark or a brand, a flashing light perhaps a certificate? All any of has to share is the experince that we ourselves have had with Jesus.

    You could say that our lives will be the true test. But that is subjective as well. If I invite a homosexual couple to church, some would view it as compromising truth, others would see it as a loving expression of what it means to be a Christian. Depending on who you would ask my life would be very Christ-like or very anti-Christ-like. Now what?
     
  8. Matt Black

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    I would say that the subjectivity comes equally from those who accept that Scripture is the ultimate authority but nevertheless disagree widelty about its interpretation; a glance into the Fundamental Forum will show you that.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  9. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    If you can't read, you can learn to read or you can listen. If you cannot understand mentally, most would attribute this to the "age of accountability" idea.

    This reveals a fundamental flaw, both in your premise and conclusion. First, your premise about this thread seemed to be denigrating those who say we only know Christ through the Bible. You argue that you got to know him through church where the Scripture was read and preached. So, the reality is that you got to know Christ through the word read and preached. Your own testimony seems to contradict your complaint. Surely you don't think you got to know Christ apart from the word of God, as if reading Tolstoy or Dickens in a group of people would have given you a knowledge of Christ. Your knowledge came through the word.

    Second, your conclusion that you were saved by Christ, not by the Bible is really irrelevant. No one believes they are saved by the Bible (at least that I know of). But the truth is that the Bible is the message of salvation, the word of the cross that must be believed for salvation through Christ alone. You conclude that the Bible doesn't have to be inerrant ... but again, looking at your statement, you attribute revelation to Christ but claim that the revelation of Christ might have errors ("inerrancy has nothing to do with it"). But revelation of Scripture must be inerrant because Christ cannot lie. Inerrancy is the natural and necessary correlary of inspiration. It can be no other way. To attribute error to Scripture is to attribute error to God, and to make God no longer God, since God cannot lie.

    No, not at all. We are saved by Christ. In one claims to be saved and denies inerrancy, there are valid questions about the reality of their salvation. It may be a case of being untaught and unthinking, and therefore may be saved in spite of it. It may be a case of studied rejection, in which case it would be hard to make a biblical case for their salvation. Belief in the nature of Scripture is the after affects of salvation, not the cause of it.

    No, I am saying they are inconsistent.

    because they are apples and oranges. You participate in a sacrament in order to gain salvation. The Bible is not something you participate in. The Bible makes itself the content of saving faith and we dare not change that. It seems to me that you are constructing a wobbly straw men in an attempt to argue against inerrancy. There are not valid theological arguments by which inerrancy can be disputed. If Scripture is the revelation of the God who cannot lie (cf 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:10; and many more), then Scripture must of necessity be inerrant.
     
  10. Daniel David

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    Matt, for all of our edification, please tell me one thing you know about Christ that you didn't learn from Scripture. Thanks.
     
  11. Broadus

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    I heard the charge of "bibliolatry" thrown out against those who believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures by those who believe the Bible is not without error. It's a straw man, though. No inerrantist worships the Bible.

    God has chosen to reveal Himself specifically through the words of the Bible. While nature reveals general concepts about God, and the Lord Jesus revealed God to those whose eyes were opened while He ministered, the Bible is that special revelation of God. Those without reading ability can hear the Word preached and taught, but it is still the Bible which reveals God.

    It remains objective revelation, though interpretation becomes subject due to our humanity. There is only one true interpretation of any passage, but we disagree because we, in this flesh, still see things darkly. The Bible itself, however, remains objective.

    Bill
     
  12. LRL71

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    Another point about 'sacrament'.... the word 'sacrament' has its definition as being a means of grace. No Baptist fundamentalist holds to the belief that the Bible is a means to salvation itself. The Bible, being inspired and inerrant in the original writings, is a record of revelation that reveals the infallible mind of God, being written down by men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. The false charge against those of us who hold to the historic Christian faith, whether Baptists or others, that we 'worship a book' does not hold since we don't worship a book, but rather that we worship the God who gave us His written Word. God cannot lie, and to ascribe error to the Word of God is saying that God is a liar and is untrustworthy. This is a serious matter since it is impossible for someone to say that He is a disciple of Jesus and then on the other hand states that the Word of God has errors-- even errors in the original writings!
     
  13. Kiffen

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    In a sense there is a sacramental nature to the Word of God but not in the same way that Baptism and the Lord's Supper are sacraments. The Protestant understanding of sacrament is "outward and visible signs of a inward and spiritual reality" but a more broader definition "conferring grace on those who receive it." In that sense there is a sacramental nature to the Word of God. It is God's Revelation to man and in a real sense when we read the Word by Faith we are feeding upon Christ and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. Every time we read God's Word we should thank Him for the grace we receive from feeding upon His Word and enlightening us to His Holy truth.

    The Bible is a spiritual book and "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". Without the Bible there is no knowlege of Jesus Christ and it is from Holy Scripture we base our theology. Bibliolatry is a straw man argument often used against us who hold to inerrancy and I know of no Bibliolatry except for perhaps maybe some extremist KJV Only's.
     
  14. Plain Old Bill

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    If there is a sacramental element to the Bible as we know it then what did the people in the first two centuries after Christ do?
     
  15. rjprince

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    Kiffen,

    I would never apply the term "sacrament" to either Baptism or the Lord's Supper. A sacrement is a means of grace. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are illustrations and memorials of grace, not a means to attain grace.
     
  16. Paul of Eugene

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    I'm not Matt, but I can give personal testimony that when I turned to God and Jesus for salvation I felt a difference within, which I attribute to being the moment of my salvation and the work of the Christ and the Holy Spirit in saving me. And this was not done while reading anything, but while I was humbly and penitently walking forward in response to the invitation to accept Jesus as my personal savior. I learned, therefore from direct experience, that Jesus can deal with me directly.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    Paul,

    You said you went forward in a response to the invitation to accept Jesus as your personal Savior. I assume that this was after a message. What was the subject of the message and what was it based on? It had to be based on Scripture since that is the only place where we fidn the instruction to trust Christ for salvation. So your testimony is indeed a testimony to the fact that the word alone is where we learn about Christ. Were it not for the message of the Bible, you would have never known to trust Christ for salvation.
     
  18. Charles Meadows

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    Paul,

    Well put. Emil Brunner and Karl Barth would be proud!

    And Larry,

    I doubt there is ONE here who would impugn the Bible or dispense with it any way. But Matt and Paul are saying that the bible tells us how to know Christ but it is not our relationship with Him.

    Look at some of the Bereans and strict KJVOs! Some of these put the literal words of the bible above anything and everything, to the detriment of the message. The becomes Pharisaical.

    I think Matt, although I don't agree with all he said, has made a valid point.
     
  19. Marcia

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    It depends on what you mean by putting "the literal words of the bible above anything and everything." I am hardly KJVO but many Christians believe the Bible is the word of God (and inerrant in the originals), and that does NOT make us worshipers of the Bible.

    After all, it's not me who says:
     
  20. robycop3

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    Truth is, ALL we know of God has come from the Bible. No matter whether one learns of Him through the spoken word, TV, reading other literature or what, the ultimate source of all that knowledge is GOD, speaking to all generations for the last 1800-1900 years by His WRITTEN WORD.
     

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