John Steward of Jesus
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The Bible

"Most here seem to call themselves Christians. I guess it would be nice to know what it is based on, the "notions" and whims above or on the Bible."

This inquiry is from a message addressed to Gregory. He is well able to speak for himself. But as one of the "most here" who call themselves Christians, I feel free to respond for myself.

This is and has long been a fundamentally important question. It is well received. We should have a good sense of why we believe what we do.

It is my opinion that my view of the Bible (The Bible?) is as "high" as anyone else's. I have grown up with it, read it many times, tried to digest it, compared versions, memorized parts of it, read it in its entirety more than once with our children, attended schools devoted to its study, recommended it for careful study by others, meditated on it, given copies to others, committed myself to live according to its teachings, and spent countless hours seeking to exegete its message. But, why do I think and do so?

It is helpful for me to remind myself of the meaning of some terms. "The Bible" simply means "the book". "The Scriptures" simply means "the writings". "Word" simply means an audible or visible symbol which assists in conveying an idea, in communicating a message. "The Word" means the symbol(s) used in a particular instance of communication. "The Word of God" means the symbols which He used to communicate a message, and, by extension, the message communicated by the symbols. Metaphorically, The Word which became flesh is the ultimate means which God used to communicate His message to us.

How did "The Bible" come to be "the book"? The title was given to it long after what we know as its contents were written. It was because people put confidence in the writings that they were included in the book. It was not because people put confidence in "the book" that they put confidence in the writings which were included in it.

How did some writings come to be known as "the writings" (scriptures)? It was because confidence was put in certain writings which became known collectively as "the writings". It was not because confidence was put in a concept of "the writings" and then it was esoterically revealed which documents were included in "the writings".

Why was confidence put in some writings? For the same reason that you and I should put confidence in them. Because when the message written in them is communicated to us, whether through our eyes, through our ears, or through the minds and expositions of others, the Spirit of our Creator speaks to our hearts and confirms within us that this is His message to us, the Truth, that which we must hear and believe if we are to find life as he intends it. Finally, we believe it because we receive it as His message to us. It is to Him alone that we will give account, and we believe only what we in our hearts know He has said.

Because faith stands above logic, we get into circular arguments in analyzing why we believe. But, if it were fundamentally and abstractly true that we believe teachings because they are in the Bible, and not true that we believe the Bible because the Spirit of God has confirmed in our hearts that its teachings are true, then we would evangelize by preaching that "the Bible is true" without any reference to the teachings which it contains. If that is the foundation, the foundation must be established. On what basis?

Seriously, do we know of anyone who reports that in his heart he knew the Bible was true and reliable as the foundation of his faith without any knowledge of what it taught? The testimonies which I hear all seem to have as their foundation stones the impressions which the Spirit of God makes within someone's heart when they hear or experience something. This may lead to the realization that the Scriptures are true and reliable, but the fundamental basis is the work of the Spirit within the heart, not a prior intellectual realization that "the Bible is true and reliable".

Why do I trust the Bible, and not the Koran or the sayings of the Dali Lama? Because in the exposure I have had to the Koran, those who teach the Koran, writings about the Koran, reports of the Dali Lama, quotations of the Dali Lama, etc., the Spirit in my heart has given me no reason to believe otherwise.

Finally, each of us stands in this universe as one responsible for discerning what is the Voice and Spirit of our Creator. That Spirit within me warns me that my own selfish spirit and the spirits of deceivers are constant dangers. That's why I'm always going back to the Scriptures for confirmation or new direction.

Others have traveled this way before. Their guide books are helpful. But a good scout doesn't believe that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west because the guide book says so. He believes it because he has experienced it.