Bibliolatry and The Kingdom of God: Do They Really Go Together?

THE FORMULA The mystic was back from the desert. “Tell us,” they said, “what God is like.” But how could he ever tell them what he had experienced in his heart? Can God be put into words? He finally gave them a formula — inaccurate, inadequate—in the hope that some might be tempted to experience it for themselves. They seized upon the formula. They made it a sacred text. They imposed it on others as a holy belief. They went to great pains to spread it in foreign lands. Some even gave their lives for if. The mystic was sad. It might have been better if he had said nothing. (From Song of the Bird by: Anthony de Mellow)

Now I grew up in two different churches who would both be considered to be on the conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to how they practice their Christian faith. I owe them a lot for they did their best to help me come to know Christ. I learned a lot about the text in the Bible. I learned their canonical order, their authors and subjects, and memorized many scriptures. But it wasn’t until my undergraduate training that I begin to learn more about the context, translation, and ultimately the inclusion or exclusion of text into the modern Bible.

I can remember sitting in seminary a decade ago and for the first time reading about the origins of the biblical canon (our protestant Bible). I found it both fascinating and enlightening to learn about how we came to have our NIV today. It is a true miracle, which no other text or book can come close to claiming. It is amazing! However, there were some others around me who began to struggle to keep their faith in “God.” As my faith in God grew from this new found information I was confused as to why other people of faith struggled to continue to believe. Was their faith in the object, the Bible, or was their faith in the living Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which the Bible gives witness? It is a question that continues to bring me deep into thought about my own life and as a church leader a question that I believe must be addressed with those whom I have the honor and privilege to teach. Do we put our faith in the teacher? Or do we put our faith in the subject, God?

I am a teacher. I don’t expect to be inerrant in my teaching. I don’t expect to get things right all the time. I also don’t expect those who learn from me to put their faith in me. I don’t expect my current testimony and understanding about God to be static for the rest of my life either. I share my testimony about Christ and His Father. I share what I have come to understand from reading the inspired written testimony of other Christians like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul. I also believe that God inspires and leads me through Christians who are alive today like David, Doug, Rick, Jan, Ken and Ross. I believe that God has revealed to us the testimonies and accounts of people about Himself that He wants us to hear to help us believe in Him.

Ultimately I believe there are a few people who would claim to be believers in God, but who might discover that they are merely believers of the teacher, or formula. If they discover that the human or text that they follow might be incomplete, they may throw all of their faith out the window. Or they may, like myself and many others, be excited that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the only perfect things and they are still alive, still revealing themselves, and still inspiring others to share.

This week we start a new sermon series at Singing Oaks asking the question: What is the Kingdom of Heaven like? It will be based on the parables told by Jesus through the gospel of Matthew. The parables aren’t about a book or creed; they are about a living King with a living Kingdom. They aren’t a formula to experience God, they are teaching tools that Jesus used and Matthew scribed. I praise God that we can read these words today in English and that they have been preserved for us to hear and meditate on. But my faith and belief are in God, not the formula. What about yours?

Other Posts You Might Like:

Focus - Andres Badillo

Idiom - Beau Davis

Post-Truth - Ross Thomson

The Beauty of Love - Nicole Kennell

Does God Exist? - Beau Davis



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McKinney at Cardinal

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Sunday Worship Schedule
8:30 - Worship (1st Service)
Attended Nursery (0-2yr). Children (3yr-4th grade) are dismissed during the sermon to attend children's church.
9:40 - Focused Fellowship
This is a time of fellowship and refreshments throughout the building. Children pickup before or after Kids Praise.
10:00 - Adult Bible Classes & Kids Discipleship
Adult Bible Classes - locations vary. High School & Middle School Discipleship Groups in the Youth area. Kids Praise for 3yr-4th grade. Nursery 0-2yr.
11:00 - Worship (2nd Service) & Kids Bible Class
Attended Nursery (0-2yr). Children (3yr - 8th grade) are dismissed during the sermon to attend Bible classes.

Wednesday Evening Schedule
5:30 - Fellowship Meal
Adults - $4 and Students/Children $3 (during the school year)
6:30 - Passion Worship
Praise and worship time in the Worship Center.
6:30 - Celebrate Recovery
Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12-step recovery group that provides a safe place to address and deal with life's hurts, habits and hang-ups.
7:00 - Bible Classes & Small Groups
Classes for children and adults of all ages and other ministry groups meet at various locations throughout the building.

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