Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sunday Devotional - Would Christianity Survive without the Bible?

Colossians 2:17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (NIV)

Someone recently posed the question: could Christianity survive without the Bible? That’s a tough question to answer. For three thousand years, God’s people have looked to the sacred scriptures to build a foundation of faith and tradition in order to give their lives meaning and purpose.

The stories of the Bible have become timeless examples of how ordinary people overcome their troubles in extraordinary ways. How solid would our faith be without the heroic exploits of Noah and his ark; of Joseph and his brothers; of Daniel in the lions’ den? These ancient tales of faith have inspired generations of God’s people in every country and culture throughout the earth.

But what if the Bible suddenly disappeared from our world? What would happen if we as Christians could no longer read the Gospels? What would our faith become? Could it survive?

If we look back to the faith of the first Christians, we come across an amazing fact: they didn’t have any scriptures to sustain their beliefs. The Gospels were written thirty years after the Church was established. The Old Testament wasn’t canonized in its present form until AD93. This must mean that the first Christians established their faith on maintaining their relationship with Christ. Their reality of faith depended upon their connection to His Spirit and not to words written on a scroll of papyrus.

I’m not advocating that we do away with the Bible. It is very important as a guide book for how we ought to live our lives, but in the end it will not be our knowledge of scripture that will get us into heaven. It will be our living, day-to-day relationship with Christ that will secure our salvation. He is the Eternal Word of God – the true Word that is alive, dynamic, and everlasting. Jesus is not someone who is confined to the pages of history, nor is He a mere character in a holy book. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, in whom our faith abides and through whom Christianity survives.

The scriptures are a shadow of the things that were to come, and as Paul would say, “the reality, however, is found in Christ.”Books will one day turn to dust, and even our computers will become redundant and decay, but the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ, will never pass away.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank You for the scriptures and for the many things with which they teach us about You, about Your messages, and about Your mighty deeds. These sacred words bring us closer to You, but they are not the source of our salvation. Only Your Spirit can connect us to God; only Your power can restore us to His favor. Enable us this day to grow closer to You in prayer, in devotion, and in service. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
Stushie writes week day devotionals at the Heaven's Highway blog.


Shawn said...

"If we look back to the faith of the first Christians, we come across an amazing fact: they didn’t have any scriptures to sustain their beliefs."

I don't think the above statement is entirely accurate. It is true that they didn't have the Bible in the form that we know it, but they most certainly had scriptures. They had scriptures in the sense that they had stories and events about God and Jesus that had been told and written down.

The OT may not have been canonized but the Hebrew scriptures were pretty standardized and Jewish Christians of many different places had a common written background in the Torah, Law and writings. That's why Jesus quoted the OT by saying, "You have heard it said..."

The early Christians may not have had the NT in written form, but they had enough of it in oral form until the written form came along.

Has Christianity survived without the Bible as we know it? Yes, although they most certainly had scriptures. Would Christianity today survive without any commonly accepted written stories/history of God and God's people? I say no, because we would have no reliable standard to check ourselves against. Each Christian or Christian community could determine what they hear God saying with no checks and balances.

Being Reformed and Presbyterian I admit that I am fallen enough to need more than my or your discernment.

Stushie said...

Thanks Shawn for your comments. The original question stipulated the Bible, and not holy scriptures. This is what made it intriguing to me.

I personally love the Bible, but it does not make or break my relationship with Christ. But I also belive that if the scriptures were taken from us (as in Ray Bradbury's sci-fi story Fahrenheit 451) Christians would re-learn the craft of oral transmission.

Sarah Louise said...

I have had my first experience of personally giving someone a Bible (I've mailed one to someone) and as a book person and librarian, and as a lover of the Word, it made sense to the givers that I was sharing something precious with them. I am a person of books. But mostly I am a woman of The Book.

I know I should have more scripture memorized, which the early Christians and Jews had, in the oral tradition.

And I always love your stained glass window creations.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

"Each Christian or Christian community could determine what they hear God saying with no checks and balances."

Well our descent into relativism and the denial of the authority of Scripture has already made this statement a reality in the mainlines.