I've had a little too much fun with the "dating" pun this week. Sorry. One more and then I'm done, I promise. We need to stop dating the Bible.
Now, we might go two different directions when we stop dating. We can move in the "it's complicated" direction, drifting away from the relationship. We could also move in the "marriage" direction, increasing our level of commitment.
The strange thing is, I think we need to go in both directions: increasing commitment but not "marrying".
Christians do not worship the Bible. To do so is actually to commit idolatry. I remember the first time my systematics professor brought this to light. I thought he was a little crazy (he might have been...I mean, who wants to teach systematics?). In this age of disrespect for the Bible, how could this prof or I say we need to move even a little in the "it's complicated" direction?
For the past several generations, evangelical Christians have fought to protect the Bible. Inerrancy, authority, inspiration have all been defended against folk who would say that the Bible is a misinformed, meaningless work of man. And many people still need to be brought to a place of deeper love, appreciation and respect for the Bible. I'd love for everyone to be headed that direction.
But that direction is not the direction toward marriage, for the Bible is not the Groom. To whom are we united, as a wife to her husband? To whom do we offer worship? To whom do we offer our deepest and most heartfelt love? We Christians don't worship the Bible (or any other book). We worship a person. We worship the Father-Son-Spirit God, revealed in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Few things are worse than a person who loves the Bible but not the God of the Bible.
Few people loved the word of God more than the scribes and the Pharisees. They attentively committed it to memory and lived it out in their lives to the best of their ability. A lot of us would deeply respect the scribes and Pharisees if we saw them today. But they loved the word and did not love the Word made flesh. They didn't recognize him when he came, even though the word they loved trumpeted his coming. The problem wasn't that they loved the Bible too much, it was that they loved God too little.
The Bible exists to connect us to God and to help us stay connected to him. We never leave it behind and we never grow out of our need for it. But the Bible is not our ultimate. Our relationship shifts into the "it's complicated" because we develop a new love, a deeper love. And because we want to experience and maintain a deep connection with God as he really is, we become deeply committed to the Bible.
The Bible portrays the God-of-our-worship accurately. Without the Bible, we would soon be worshipping God not as he really is, but as how we in our brokenness wish him to be. The Bible protects our love. Ellery Baker (one of the awesome guys I discipled at Tech) compared the Bible to guardrails, keeping us from running off the road of truth.
So, we need a deep commitment to the Bible, but we don't want the Bible to be our deepest commitment (that's reserved for Someone else). Fun with puns is now done.