Re: The Whole Bible Revealed in Zechariah (was Re: NT truth (formerly inerrancy?))

From: <richard@biblewheel.com>
Date: Sat Jan 10 2004 - 16:45:28 EST

Don,

Thanks for the clarification. The clash of our world views makes my head
spin. Every attempt to answer your post has turned into a small book. Here's
the condensed version:

As I see it, there are three referents to "The Word of God" in Scripture:

1) The Eternal Living Word: the Lord Jesus Christ
2) The Power of God manifest physically
3) The Written Word: sometimes individual Scriptures, sometimes the whole
Bible.

I believe the vast majority of Christians would agree with this tripartite
definition, and could give many examples justifying each point, though there
would be differences about the canonical details relating to Point 3. I
would be delighted if list members would cast their votes on this. I am
completely open to refinement of this idea.

Point 2 is the definition you provided, which is fine when properly situated
relative to the other two. You gave Point 1 nothing but a slight nod with
the wholly inadequate (from an orthodox theological perspective) addendum
"sometimes (perhaps always) Jesus." You categorically rejected Point 3 with
these words:

"Furthermore I say that the Bible is definitely not the Word of God. Heck,
it's just a book; how can it be the Word of God? ... The book itself may be
good as a doorstop, but it's not the Word of God."

If I interpret your assertions using the rules of plain English, I am forced
to conclude that your faith, though richly informed by Scripture, has become
completely unanchored from it. As far as I can tell, God could make the
Sunday Comics as much the Word of God for you as the Bible with which you
prop your door, depending merely on where He chooses to manifest His Power.

While I appreciate this view of the Power of God (for indeed He can manifest
where, when, and how He will), I must object on biblical and theological
grounds to your complete disjunction of the Written Word from the Living
Word of God.

You base your argument on the assertion that the Word of God "never refers
to Scriptures" when used in the Bible. This claim has two fundamental
errors.

A) Its validity is dubious at best.
B) Even if it were true, it would be irrelevant because it relies on
circular reasoning (not to be confused with the Bible Wheel *wink*).

I begin with point Point B. Your conclusion that no Scriptures are referred
to as the "Word of God" is based on your circular assumption that the Bible
is not God's Book. I demonstrated this with a very simple Gedanken
experiment. Let me repeat: Imagine that I wrote the whole Bible myself.
There would then be no question that passages like 2 Tim 3.16, (now
transformed to read "All Scripture is inspired by Richard"), were intended
by me to refer to the whole Bible. No one would suggest that Rev 22.18
referred to anything less than the Whole Bible. The ambiguity you struggle
with is the product of your hermeneutic assumptions; primarily that you must
restrict your interpretation of Scripture to the limits of the natural
knowledge of the human writers. This hermeneutic prohibits its subscribers
from receiving the Bible as the Word of God. All prophecy is rejected by
definition, as is all evidence of divine design of the Bible - hence our
lack of a "meeting of minds" on issues of evidence.

Let us now consider Point A. You are obviously correct about many of the
occurrences of the phrase "Word of God/the Lord". I doubt anyone would
assert the Bible was in view when "the word of the Lord" came to Abram in
Gen 15. But your complete disjunction of the Bible from the Word of God is
completely wrong. Throughout the whole Bible we find an extreme *conflation*
of the Written Word with the Living Word of God. This is part of the
"fundamental ambiguity" of God's Word, which does not refer to any
uncertainty in meaning, but rather to the meaning being *doubled* (as in
"ambidextrous"). This is one of the reasons God revealed His Word as a
Two-edge Sword.

In answer to your specific allegation about the "Word of God" never
referring to Scripture within the Bible, consider Luke 4.3f (ignoring
textual variations since the text is a witness of early Christian belief
regardless):

And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone
that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That
man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

What did Jesus mean when He said "word of God" here? Are you really
asserting that He was referring to an undefined, idiosyncratic, personally
relativistic "manifestation of God's Power" that is completely dissociated
from the text He was citing? This makes no sense to me at all. And what
about John 10.35, where Christ refers to both the Word of God and Scripture
in the same sentence? I quote:

If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture
cannot be broken;

The only way to interpret this to fit your scheme is to drive a wedge
between the "word of God" that came unto them and the unbreakable Scripture
that resulted. This could be valid, I suppose, but it certainly is not
obvious. I would have to say that this interpretation comes from "someplace
far removed from the text." ;-)

Finally, I would like to present the preliminary results of your suggestion
that I read the Book of Acts with an open mind to determine what the Word of
God meant to the "earliest Christians." The first occurrence of the phrase
"Word of God" in Acts appears in verse 4.31:

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled
together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the
word of God with boldness.

It says they spoke the Word of God when they prayed. And what did they pray?
They prayed SCRIPTURE. I quote from Acts 4.24f:

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord,
and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the
sea, and all that in them is: [Scriptures: Exo 20.11, Ps 146.6] 25 Who by
the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the
people imagine vain things? [Scripture: Ps 2].

Note also that they referred to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures by
declaring that God spoke "by the mouth" of David. The first occurrence of
the WORD OF GOD in Acts therefore refers directly to the SCRIPTURE, and its
divine inspiration.

Now lets look at the most famous apologetic verse, Acts 17.11-13:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received THE
WORD with all readiness of mind, and searched the SCRIPTURES daily, whether
those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable
women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of
Thessalonica had knowledge that THE WORD OF GOD was preached of Paul at
Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

Here we see a complete conflation of the WORD OF GOD with SCRIPTURE.

I conclude that the earliest Christians, as represented in the Book of Acts,
identified the Word of God with Scripture.

Well, thats enough for Book 1. Whew! That was a lot of work.

In Chirst,
Richard
Discover the sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible at
http://www.BibleWheel.com
Received on Sat Jan 10 16:44:41 2004

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