The Evangelical: Jesus saw scripture as unbreakable; so should we

At a time when the authority of the Bible is increasingly questioned, we should follow Jesus’ example when reading the scriptures.

Post-evangelicals often present the options as (1) an infallible Bible and an infallible Church, or (2) a correctable Bible and a correctable Church. But if we were to present these options to Jesus or Paul or Moses – or Gregory, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Wesley, Spurgeon and the rest – I suspect they would splutter in astonishment and tell us about option (3): an infallible Bible, and a correctable Church. That, surely, is the way to preserve divine authority and human humility; a word from God that never fails, and people that frequently do.

 

Christianity is all about Jesus. As Christians, we always want our lives, our words and our beliefs to line up with what Jesus said and did. So when it comes to forming a view of scripture, the best place to start is not with contemporary culture, modernist foundations or the postmodern rejection of authority (although we have to think these things through eventually). The best place to start is with Jesus’ view of scripture.

That’s what I’ve tried to do in Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said About the Word of God. The Gospels are full of stories in which Jesus quotes, explains, talks about and challenges people with the scriptures, which paint a remarkable picture. In the book I take 11 of these stories and explore the view of the Bible held by
Jesus himself.

RED AND BLACK LETTERS

When Jesus is tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:1-10, he responds three times with the phrase ‘It is written’, followed by a quotation from the Bible. This forms an interesting contrast with Eve, who was bamboozled and led into sin by the question, ‘Did God really say…?’ (Genesis 3:1).

When Jesus quotes Psalm 110 in Mark 12:35-37, he attributes it to ‘David…in the Holy Spirit’, revealing both the human (David) and divine (the Holy Spirit) aspects of biblical authorship. He regards the scriptures as sufficient to prompt repentance (Luke 16:31), as fulfilled in his life and ministry (Matthew 5:17-20), and as truthful, even when they are describing scary acts of divine judgement (Luke 17:22-37). In one fascinating story, he describes the scriptures as ‘the word of God’, which ‘cannot be broken’ (John 10:35).

The red letters, in other words, repeatedly affirm the black ones: as inspired; as truthful; as God’s unbreakable word.

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