The notion of trusting Jesus before trusting the Bible is a strange one. It's strange, first of all, because of what I (quoting CS Lewis, I think) call "the scandal of particularity."
How can we base our trust in the Bible on our trust in Jesus? Don't we learn about Jesus from the Bible?
Now, there's an interesting question. Is the Bible the only way to come to know Jesus?
Our community here is full (sadly, beautifully, but not exclusively) of students who have grown up around Christianity. Their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents trusted Jesus. Some of these folks came to trust Jesus because they read about him in the Bible. But not all.
What about you? Did you start with the Bible? Maybe you did. Maybe you're still trying to figure out this whole trust thing.
But for those folks who grew up around Christianity, I'd bet three shiny nickels that a lot of them trusted Jesus before they understood John's Gospel. Some trusted before they could read, before they sat in on "big church." They trusted because their mom trusted, because their dad or grandparents or older sibling trusted Jesus. When the Bible was introduced, it rolled on the same credibility.
That doesn't sound very noble or authoritative. You can't convince someone to trust Jesus or the Bible by saying "My Mom said...". There's a part of me that wishes it weren't the case, that I could say confidently of all these folk that they would trust Jesus and the Bible even if they weren't raised around it, that wishes I could say this because it makes trust in Jesus and the Bible sound more objective and transportable. But wishes aren't fishes and families and communities of origin do have significant impacts. Not everyone has the same opportunity.
So, the scandal of particularity starts to show it's scandalous colours.
Some people trust Jesus, not because they already trust the Bible, but because someone else they already trust models trusting Jesus (did you really think I wouldn't find a way to connect Biblical Criticism to Evangelism?).
But the formidable opponent might claim that someone, somewhere in that family tree probably connected with Jesus and started to trust him through the influence of a Bible. They make a good point.
Maybe Person A trusts Jesus because their Mom (Person B, she's more than a mother, c'mon) trusts Jesus. If Person B started trusting Jesus because she came to trust the Bible (perhaps after hearing a talk like the one Wes Zell is going to give at Large Group this week), then we haven't really showed that you can start with Jesus, we've only showed that you don't have to start with the Bible directly.
This is like someone who "solves" the problem of the origin of human life by claiming that we were seeded on Earth by aliens. Well, where did the aliens come from? Or crystals. Where did the crystals come from? Or Jersey. Where did the primordial soup come from? These "solutions" just push the problem back a step or two.
Is that what we just did here? No.
The Scandal of Particularity joins in on an ongoing game of Roots, Shoots and Ladders. I'll explain this tomorrow. (Hint as to where I'm going --- people trusted Jesus before the Bible was written down) Stay with me. I have no intention going over the edge.