Does The Bible “Become” The Word of God?

Do you believe that the Bible- all of it- is truly the inspired inerrant word of God? What does your church leadership say the Bible is? Do you believe it IS the word of God, or that it only CONTAINS the word of God.  You see, words do matter, as J.R. Bjerke of Gospel of Christ Ministries point out in this post.

Does The Bible “Become” The Word of God?

By  J.R. Bjerke of Gospel of Christ Ministries

February 7, 2011

One new teaching that has crept into the church today is that the Bible becomes the Word of God as it is read. This is seen in a statement released by a mainstream Christian denomination which stated that “the Bible becomes the infallible Word of God, the authoritative rule of faith and practice in the Church.” This statement affirms that biblical inspiration occurs as the Bible is being read, and becomes the infallible Word of God for faith and practice.

There are two issues at the heart of this statement. First, the issue of the Bible becoming the Word of God when we read it. The Bible cannot become the Word of God because it is the Word of God. The Bible is the Word of God regardless if anyone reads it

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16

These two verses clearly state that the Word of God is living, and all Scripture is inspired. These verses do not say that the Word of God or that Scripture becomes anything.

Second, by affirming that the Bible becomes the Word of God creates a relativistic environment consistent with neo-orthodox theology. In this environment, what becomes the “Word of God’ for you does not necessarily have to become the “Word of God” for someone else. This leads to a weak view of sin, as what one person might consider sin another person would not consider sin. This results in everyone doing what they “feel” is right. The Bible has some very strong words about this,

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 1:25

The Bible teaches that there is a great danger in doing what we think is right.

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. - Proverbs 14:12

While it may not be the popular position we must purpose in our hearts to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God, and must live our lives accordingly.

Grace and Peace


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21 responses to “Does The Bible “Become” The Word of God?

  1. Does anyone remember the Word Action Adult lesson that said something very similar to the becomes the Word? I think it was last half of 2008 or before June of 2009.

    The writer referred to a difficult portion of Scripture and flat stated understanding it was not important, so long as you used it to feel connected to God. There was an endorsement of lectio divina in the quarterly around this time too, which goes along with this theme.

    This presents a slight variant in that the Bible becomes a path to experience God and does not necessarily equate to being or becoming the Word of God.

    A more extreme view is that the Bible is merely about God; it is not His word, nor does it ever become His Word.

    For the record, I believe the Bible IS the Word of God and is inerrant and infallible.

  2. http://www.nazarene.org/ministries/superintendents/statements/beliefs/display.aspx

    We believe in the inspiration and authority of Scripture. We hold that the Word of God is the primary source of revelation for knowing God. Dr. H. Orton Wiley, who helped shape our theology in our formative years, wrote: “We conclude that the Scriptures were given by plenary inspiration . . . in the manner that and to the degree that the Bible becomes the infallible word of God, the authoritative Rule of Faith and Practice in the Church” (Christian Theology, Vol. 1, p. 170).

    I could be wrong here but it appears to me that this is not stating that the “Bible becomes the infallible word of God” (It is part of a sentence that must be taken as a whole to be understood.).

    But that the Bible becomes the (infallible and authoritative) source for the Rule of Faith and Practice in the Church. Not the Bible becomes infallible but it becomes an infallible source for the Nazarene denomination which came into being just over 100 years ago and it was at that time the Bible “became” its (the denominations) infallible source since the denomination (not the Bible) did not exist before then.

    Those who wish to construe it otherwise misrepresent the founders of The Church of The Nazarene and do so at their own peril.

  3. Clumsy Sword Bearer,

    Excellent post, but I would point to your quote from H.Orton Wiley (..the Bible becomes the infallible word of God). If you want to have a better understanding of what he meant you need to understand Wiley’s theological training. He was a proponent of the theology of Karl Barth. Karl Barth is considered to be the Father of Neo-Orthodox Theology. You are correct, Wiley did help shape the theology of the church, sadly it was in the shape of neo-orthodoxy. Wiley did not believe the Bible was error free, he taught the limited inerrancy of the Bible. There has been a lot of confusion on what the official position of the Nazarene Church is on this issue (and others as well) because of the Big Tent theological philosophy of the church.

  4. The founders pose no peril whatsoever. We need fear no man, only God. The issue is not what even the most godly men may say, but what does the Bible say about itself.

    I mean no disrespect at all to the founders, and I certainly appreciate them, but I do not answer to them.

  5. Thank you for the clarification on Wiley. I attempted to find the original quote on line in full but was unable to do so.

    The top paragraph is a straight cut and paste from the link above it and, I believe, the one referenced in the posted article.

    It is no wonder the Church of the Nazarene is unable to officially claim the Bible to be the inerrent word of God when its origins are steeped in the teachings of those who did not believe so. Better to leave the statement as is and let those who read it interpret it as they wish.

    The manual isn’t the absolute manual but it becomes the manual as I read it. And if I think the manual states the scriptures are the inerrent word of God and you think it says they have errors but it is sufficient for salvation then we are both right according to the traditions of the Nazarene Denomination. However it’s not the Traditions of the Nazarene Denomination that holds final authority.

    May he find us faithful.

  6. Clumsy Sword Bearer,

    You stated ” And if I think the manual states the scriptures are the inerrent word of God and you think it says they have errors but it is sufficient for salvation then we are both right according to the traditions of the Nazarene Denomination”

    This is an interesting statement. We have to remember that “we” cannot interpret the manual however we want. The Board of General Superintendents interpret the manual (www.nazarene.org/ministries/administration/visitorcenter/about/display.aspx).Currently the BGS has interpreted the manual on Article IV to be that the Bible is not fully inerrant.

    Also, pastors are being told that they are not to preach that the position of limited inerrancy is wrong because that is the official position of the church.

    Grace and Peace

  7. “Also, pastors are being told that they are not to preach that the position of limited inerrancy is wrong because that is the official position of the church.”

    I get the whole Emergent thing now, if the Bible has errors then you have to find something else to fill in the gaps and it’s the only rational thing that you can do. They can’t base their lives on a book with little errors that tells little errors about Jesus. They need candles, mazes and spiritual formation because they are searching for truth. It’s no wonder they cringe when they see scripture or hear people talk about how much they love Jesus and his word.

  8. John Wesley himself wrote in his journal, 8/24/1776: “Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.”

    B.F. Haynes, the first editor of the Herald of Holiness : “It (The Bible) cannot be relied on anywhere if it be false in one place. Here is our challenge—all or none. Proof of falsity or untrustworthiness established as to one chapter or one great historic fact…loses to us the whole Bible.” (B. F. Haynes, “Does it Matter”, Herald of Holiness, Dec 1, 1915, p. 1).

  9. DEFINING BIBLICAL INERRANCY
    Dr. Vic Reasoner

    http://www.fwponline.cc/v16n2/v16n2reasonera.html

    “In the field of apologetics history, nature, prophecy, and miracles have been used to confirm Scripture. If the record is not accurate at these points, how do we know it is reliable when dealing with salvation?”

    “Divisiveness did not come from the ugly head of inerrancy, it came from the ugly head of liberalism. Historically, the Church held to biblical inerrancy until higher criticism taught the Scriptures were simply the product of human evolution.”

  10. I have pointed these and more to others in the emergent movement- it seems these are what would be called “inconvenient facts.”

  11. “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

    I’m thinking a lot of us don’t even know what the official essentials really are. We have, wrongly, assumed that what we believe to be the essentials are the same essentials the denomination holds to; even after reading the official list.

    What, exactly, do they think “plenary inspiration” means?

  12. Clumsy Sword Bearer,

    The BGS interpret “Plenary Inspiration” to mean without error in all things related to salvation. There is a difference between “Plenary Inspiration” and “Verbal Plenary Inspiration”. Also, the BGS have stated that they do not believe the Bible to be error free in areas of math, science, history, geography, etc.

    I would say that an essential is trusting God’s Word in its entirety not just certain parts. This is elevation of humanity over divinity because we believe that our knowledge is greater than what is written in the Bible.

    Grace and Peace

  13. Pastor Bjerke,

    I love this quote by John Wesley that echoes what you said above:

    “In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church.”

  14. So fully God-breathed scripture contains errors in math, science, history, geography, etc. but we can trust it regarding salvation.

    Has this always been the interpretation of the General Superintendents? According to Sondra’s reference: B.F. Haynes in 1915 did not believe the Bible contained errors regarding History and, presumably, any other errors. How could this be published in The Herald of Holiness if it was not the official stance of the Church of the Nazarene?

    Or are those of us who hold to inerrancy simply been tolerated throughout the last century and kept in the dark as to the official position of the church because our position was non-essential since we had the part about trusting scripture for salvation covered?

    How did the Church of the Nazarene ever manage to produce so many Pastors who believe in the entirety of God’s word if this has been the essential belief regarding scripture from the beginning? I can see a mere parishioner missing what is meant but how could a trained, ordained pastor not know?

  15. Awfully good questions. One of the things I want to see is a eventual forcing of the leadership to “come clean” and tell us clearly what they really believe- each and every one of them.

    Yes, I think many have been tolerated over the years- but I believe the noose is tightening on the young up and coming pastors who believe inb inerrancy. They will be forced to decide whether to fake it to keep a job in the COTN, or move on and leave a denomination which looks more and more to me to be one which refuses to accept God’s word as truly the word of God- all of it.

  16. How the mighty have fallen!

    From learning to read the Bible on my knees praying, for every word was true, to “well it isn’t all true but trust it anyway.”

    Maybe we need to divide as cleanly as a sword: ALL THE BIBLE IS TRUE, BUT NOT ALL OF MAN’S INTERPRETATIONS ARE TRUE.

  17. Unfortunately, Sarah – that is the same argument that the academy uses. Not all of man’s interpretations [because "men" wrote the Bible] are true, therefore, we cannot fully rely on its accuracy.

  18. Manny,
    I would divide up the two camps of those who believe in the inerrancy of God’s word and those who do not as this: Those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible trust the Holy Spirit to teach them in all truth as promised in Scripture. And those who do not have a tendency to question almost everything and wish to instruct God on what is truth according to their own wordly wisdom.
    Lige

  19. If science, as we know it, is correct; then what need do we have for salvation?

    A short list of “science errors” in scripture:

    In the beginning…God

    Animals and plants reproduce after their own kind

    Death entered creation after Adam’s sin. There was no death before that.

    A bush burned but did not burn up

    The sun stood still and even went backwards

    An axe head floated

    Three men survived a fiery furnace without a whiff of smoke on them but others died getting them out

    A virgin gave birth

    Water was turned to wine

    A man walked on water

    The lame walked, the blind saw

    The wind and the waves ceased at Jesus’ command

    The ressurection of Jesus

    I’m sure there are more, as well as supposed “errors” in math, history, and geography, but without the last one, what does it matter? Elevating “science” above scripture leaves you with nothing but a really old set of books and letters full of nothing but the ramblings of delusional men.

    Put me in with the group that claims it is essential to trust God’s Word in its entirety and not just certain parts.

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