One group of Christians points to the written text of Scripture and declares: “the Bible says.” By contrast, another group affirms: “God speaks to us through the Bible.”
Both Are Right!
Both are biblical. Scripture means writing and Bible means book. The first group, the fundamentalists, can show many biblical passages beginning: “It is written,”; and clearly, if Scripture says it, that is supposed to settle the matter. For the Christian, the Bible is not like any other book. It has divine authority, and we are in danger if we ignore it. The second group, the “liberal” evangelicals, or, interchangeably, neoevangelicals, are equally biblical. They, too, can cite: “The Holy Spirit says,” and “The Holy Spirit … said through Isaiah.” Again, the Bible is not just like any other book. In the Bible God communicates directly to the believing man or woman prepared to hear. Of course, the Bible is only a dead letter to some. By hardness of heart a person may read aimlessly and choose to hear only a wandering Hebrew preacher from the eighth century B.C.; understanding is limited to what such a person can glean from archaeological investigations of the ancient text.
But the “liberal” evangelical knows that God is active now in the hearts of men and women. The spirit transforms human words of Scripture into contemporary speech of the living God. The Bible then becomes a means of grace, and study of the Bible is no mere academic or literary exercise. It is a book best read and studied on our knees. We worship and adore our God as he speaks to us immediately out of its pages.
And Both Are Open To Danger
The historic view of the church encompasses both these approaches to the Bible. Yet unless each is carefully safeguarded it may also pervert ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more