But how can that be? How can the Bible be both the word of God and written by men? I've been wrestling with this question all week (see yesterday's post) and it has huge implications for Small Group leaders.
When wrestling with theological questions, start with Jesus and then work from there. Karl Barth described this technique this way:
Everything that deserves to be called knowledge in the Christian sense lives from the knowledge of Jesus Christ
And, in this situation, starting with Jesus really helps.
For ages Christian theologians have held that we worship "One Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation" (Irenaeus). This "theandric principle" (theos - God, anthropos - man) establishes that Jesus is both God and human. It's taught in John 1, John 14-16, Matthew 10, Mark 10, and Luke 10.
Christians, although we do believe in absolute truth (see the end of that post), are not explicitly an "either/or" people. We believe that God is present and exalted. We believe that God is in time and beyond time. We believe that Jesus is a prophet, a priest, and a king. We believe that there is one God and three persons. We believe the Jesus is both divine and human.
With that in mind, is it a big stretch to believe that the Bible has both divine and human origin?
Before we say anything else about inspiration and the notion that the Bible comes both from men and God, we must come to grips that the Bible and Christian theology are full of mysteries that are believed before they are understood. Many of these mysteries involve affirming "both/and" for relationships we normally consider "either/or." Much of our bad and heretical theology comes from our refusal to accept these mysteries.
What if our Small Group Leaders became more and more comfortable with mystery? What if we didn't jump first to explanation and dissection and "verbal, plenary" rigamarole, but if we started from a posture that said "I know it's possible here (the Bible the word of God and word of man) because I've already seen something similar over there (Jesus the God-Man)"?
If we can't become comfortable with this idea of inspiration, two things start to happen:
- We become embarassed by the human elements (not human)
- We treat it without respect (not divine)