Not The Bible I'd Have Chosen
I was having dinner with a friend who happens to have significant doubts about the legitimacy of the Christian faith. My friend expressed a deep concern for the subjectivity of the Bible. "Why wouldn't God give something a bit more objective to us as his infallible Word?" Indeed, if God is this authoritative teacher, then why would the scriptures be as infected with the subjectivity of human experience as it is? It's not the bible I'd have chosen...
Again, another friend--one much more comfortable identifying as a Christian--asked the same basic question. "My problem with the Bible," she said," is that it's so human!" Why can't we have something more clear, something on which everyone can agree?! Wouldn't that be better? Or would it?
Here's my question... what sort of God do we expect God to be?
What I have discovered about God is quite different than it is in the theology books. We use words like omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, etc. to describe God and yet, where do those descriptions come from? Surely from the musings of the philosophers who scrape for a definition, who scrape to describe the indescribable. The truth is, reality--ideed God-- is not so static as the words with which we choose to describe God. God is utterly relational, intensely experiential, and deeply incarnational. If Jesus Christ reveals nothing else, he reveals a God who is not just some ethereal conceptualization or the product of objective rationalization. God is much more messy. To speak of authority and sovereignty in any biblical fashion is to speak of those things not as abstract concepts (although those can serve as helpful training wheels for the mind) or in universalized static language but, rather, to speak of them as they are worked out in reality, in human experience, in the beautiful mess of life. Universality, objectivity... these are mere myths. For the God who created the world is a God who engages life from the smallest and most subjective place... a God who starts with a person and is involved in the expansion of reality, a God who saves the world from the darkness of a single tomb.
So the question I'd ask is, could the God who is real in every sense of the word offer any objective, authoritative, universal, or conceptually static revelation of Godself with any degree of authenticity? Would such a revelation be an accurate reflection of God, this wild and creative God, no matter what the content? I believe that the sort of revelation, the sort of Word we have received in the Bible, with all its gritty humanity and ancient complexity, is the only appropriate medium for the communication of this God--a God who brings harmony out of chaos through the brooding of the Spirit.