"Speak where the Bible Speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent."
I was out for a jog this morning when this quote entered my mind. I have heard this sentence since I was a boy and thought it to be good. This morning, I didn't like it.
Not liking this mantra that I have been immersed in for many years did not come bring any sense of relief or comfort. In fact, my not liking this quote disrtupted my comfort. I have counted on this one for years. It was sure. It was safe. It was right. And if it wasn't right, nothing else seemed righter (righter?).
However, my discomfort did not lead me back to embracing this quote full on, but rather left me treading water.
OK, let's take a look at the quote and see what the good and the troubling parts of it are.
1. Safe Bet. If you want to say that what is in the Bible is God's Word, then this quote is safe. If that's all you want to say.
2. Consumable. There is next to no one who cannot understand and digest this simple sentence. Its simplicity is really quite genius. It almost sounds like a Rick Warren slogan.
3. Clear. Its clarity is remarkable. There is no gray area whatsoever. It is so easy to do, at least it is so easy to believe you're doing it. There is only one variable with which to deal.
4. Comfortable. It provides a very settled feeling. There is no more work or discernment that needs ot be done. All of that struggling and wrestling is taken care of. There is so much that does not even have to be thought about.
I am sure there is other good to it, but we'll leave it at that.
1. Reductionistic. Even though Jesus said, in the Bible, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age," and even though Jesus said, in the Bible, "I will send the Comforter," and many other things, "Speak where the Bible speaks..." does not allow for the ever present Jesus, the Counselor (Holy Spirit as I understand the passage) to tell us anything besides, "read the Bible." This quote has effectively muted God for just under 2000 years.
2. Not Biblical. No where in the Bible does it say that the Bible is all there is to God's Word. Oh sure, someone is going pull out, "do not add or take away...," but to say that means the Bible is the sum of God's Word and God does not, will not, and cannot speak in any other way is such a ridiculous stretch of scripture that it would be speaking where the Bible does not speak.
3. Who's been talking to me? I believe God has spoken to me. I'm not one of those people who gets to hear the audible voice of God. I probably don't enough faith to hear it an live. However, I have heard God speak in dreams, in "coincidence," in wise words from friends the people I trust, in circumstance, in emotion, in thought. I have had instance when I spoke words of insight and wisdom to people that I was in no way capable of on my own. I wondered where that came from. Did God speak through me, or am I just that smart? If you know me and heard what I said, it would be easy to understand that it was God and not me.
4. Why pray? If God is done talking, then he's done answering prayer. There is no need to pray, just read the Bible. If it's all in there, then what's the point in praying? God's just going to point his finger at the Bible anyway.
5. Inhibits Growth. A people without struggle is a people without growth. When making sense of life, the Bible is helpful, but it is not all there is. In a way, the Bible can get in between a person and God. I am not saying it is wrong, but I am saying that God wants us to love Him more than anything else.
6. Promotes idol worship. That got your attention. :-) The Bible is one of God's creations, ranking in the top 5 of all things created, but any created thing getting between a person and God or viewed by a person as being in the place of God is, in fact, an enemy to God. We make an idol of one of God's creations, the Bible.
7. Return to the Old Law. If we cannot engage with the living God directly, then the Bible isn't true. Jesus came to "tear down the curtain," (a thing separating God and humanity) and make the Holy of Holies available to us all. If we have to funnel all interactions, relationship, and everything through the Bible, then the Bible itself becomes the curtain Jesus came to remove. Although Jesus tore the curtain, we got our sewing kits out an repaired it.
I'll stop there, although I could go on. My point is this: The Bible is some of God's word. It isn't pretty and it is isn't even safe. But "safe, who said anything about safe?"