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The Word of God(4-15-04)
In recent discussions there has been strong affirmation that "the Bible is the Word of God".
Why has this become such a standard affirmation? Just what does it mean?
The Bible itself of course says nothing about "the Bible". It does refer
to the scriptures, and to the word of God and the word of others. Are there examples in the Bible where a collection of scriptures is described as "the Word of God"?
When it is said that the Bible is the Word of God, I assume the intended meaning is that every phrase and clause is the Word of God. What does this tell me? Paul says in Colossians 4:18, "Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea..." If I learn that this is the Word of God, what do I know that I didn't know before?
The evidence you listed shows that:
Moses received living oracles which he entrusted to the Israelites.
When early Christians met together, they spoke oracles of God.
The scripture, which cannot be broken, says that when God spoke in the divine council, the word of God came to those who heard.
The writer of Psalm 119 placed high value on God's law, promise, word, words, statutes, commandments, precepts, rules, testimonies, works, and ways.
The Bible is true, reliable, trustworthy.
The Bible changes people's lives.
I accept all this and agree with it.
But, in my opinion, none of this answers the question. If this is the best evidence from scripture, my impression is reinforced that those who proclaim "The Bible is God's Word" do so because they have had the equivalent of a catechism experience which included:
Question: What is the Bible?
Correct answer: The Bible is the Word of God.
Question: What is the Word of God?
Correct answer: The Word of God is the Bible.
My question follows your statement that the Bible is the word of God. So it's for you to define whether "the Bible" is " 'todays' Bible" or another Bible, and whether "the word of God" regards the spoken word or the written word.
My question is really a narrow, specific one, focused on the choice of words and the use of a phrase, "the word of God".
When we speak of "the word(s) of Lincoln" we usually mean those which were spoken by the voice of Lincoln or flowed from a pen manipulated by the hand of Lincoln. Were he living today, we would include a keyboard manipulated by his hand. This is also the sense of the phrase which I find in the scriptures. So I think it is appropriate to say that "Let there be light" and "Thou shalt not kill" are "the word(s) of God". But I question whether it is appropriate or helpful to say that "You will not surely die" is the word of God. I consider it appropriate to label "Follow me" as the word(s) of Jesus. I would not do the same with "He casts out demons by the prince of demons".
If "The Bible is the word of God" is a recommended choice of words, these statements seem to me to be as appropriate:
The Bible is the book of God.
The Bible is the writings of God.
The Bible is the voice of God.
The Bible is the speech of God.
The Bible is the letters of God.
The Bible is thought of God.
The Bible is the will of God.
The Bible is the emotion of God.
The Bible is the action of God.
It might also be appropriate to label Song of Solomon as "Song of God", or some might prefer "Song of Jesus". The Psalms of David might be the "Psalms of God", and the letters of Paul the "letters of God". The prophecies of Isaiah could be the "prophecies of God".
We have a voice recording of the entire Bible on cassette tape. If this is playing and others hear it and ask about it, perhaps it would be appropriate to say that they are hearing the voice of God.
My emerging conclusion is that such choice of words and use of phrase is not appropriate, helpful, or useful. There is a better way. If we seek to promote Biblical thinking and speaking, let's use words and phrases as they are used in the Bible unless there is a good reason for expanding or changing their use. In this case, I see no reason for what I understand to be a change. That is why my question asked for evidence that speaking of the Bible as "the word of God" is an established pattern of word use in the Bible. Until now I have not seen such evidence. I have seen evidence that such usage of words has led to abuses.