Originally posted Jan. 30, 2012, at Between Epiphanies. Republished with permission of the author.
A great insight came out of Bible study the other night. I’m still thinking about it. Is the Bible true, or does the Bible tell the truth?
Many well-meaning people want to say yes to the first part of the question and leave it at that. Yes, the Bible is true! Anything else?
Now I like simplicity as much as the next person, but here’s the problem with that approach. It focuses attention on the Bible and reduces truth to mere fact.
If a fact is the highest form of truth, faithful living is nothing more than a series of true or false propositions. The Bible — well that’s the grading template.
Let’s try a few shall we?
Slavery: true or false?
Evolution: true or false?
You see what I mean? Not always very helpful, is it?
This approach to the Bible has led us down an infinite number of dead ends and caused a tremendous amount of human suffering, going all the way back to Jesus on the cross. This was the Pharisees’ approach to Scripture after all.
Messiah, true or false?
But, what if I say that the Bible tells the truth?
Well, for one thing, it frees the Bible from merely being a set of divine by-laws. It conveys a truth about living beyond a true-or-false quiz.
It frees me too.
My vocation as a Christian becomes less a lawyer, combing the fine print and searching for loopholes, and more of a poet explorer, uncovering mystery and wonder.
The biblical narrative becomes a means for me to engage my world, to understand my life story in the context of the story of God.
The Bible tells the truth, in that the Bible tells the story of God’s relationship with the world.
Truth is less fact now and more poetry.
Less data and more wisdom.
God’s story is still unfolding in me and around me.
It’s not finished yet.
Find a link to Charles Oberkehr’s entry on the blog Between Epiphanies at Lutheran Blogs.