Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bible Deism and Knowing Jesus Part 1 - Introduction

In focusing on the Bible and the biblical word, we uplift the objective revelation of God as given by the Apostles and canonized by the church. This blog focuses on inspiring passion for the Word of God and discovering new and interesting ways of interacting with the Bible. As an avid reader and writer, I am built to love books, to love words and to love the revelation God's word. The Book suits me. But the Bible can become an end in of itself. This subtle and deadly form of idolatry can seduce us from loving Christ and place us into a drive for more and more Bible knowledge, leading us into dry, hollow, cold religion.

So often our study of the Bible can be a study of the book without a motivation to really study and know Jesus better. Are we really pursuing Christ in the Word or are we pursuing the word itself and denying the divine revelation of Jesus as a person in our lives? Are we following Jesus or only following His teachings?  We were meant to know and worship and follow a Person. I love the Bible. I love studying it. But above all I love Jesus Christ, and if my time in His Word does not lead me to Him, to know Him and love Him and experience Him in a real way, then I do not really know the scriptures or the power of God. We must come to Jesus for eternal life, not the Bible. It is Jesus who sustains our life in Him, not the Bible:

John 5:39-40

New King James Version (NKJV)
39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

The Scriptures testify to the one who is the Living Word: Jesus our God and King. He is the subject of our worship and attention. His word is a revelation of Him.

Jack Deere's book Surprised by the Voice of God  features a powerful testimony and strong word on the dangers of worshipping the Bible instead of Christ. The next few weeks will feature a number of posts on Bible Deism. They will include excerpts from his chapter, "Confessions of a Bible Deist" followed by thoughts and commentary. I welcome any comments and discussion on the posts, though I will probably not interact in discussions in the comments section as I'll let the series speak for itself and develop it based on reader interaction. These posts will be fairly lengthy and in the future will feature lengthy portions of Jack Deere's work as well as lengthy portions of commentary from my own walk with the Lord and study of His word.

 The following is the opening of "Confessions of a Bible Deist" from Surprised by the Voice of God.
Confessions of a Bible Deist

Augustine had an entire book of confessions. Perhaps you will indulge me for just a single chapter of my own. Here is my confession: Somewhere along the way in my academic study of the Bible, I became a Bible deist. You probably studied deism in one of your high school history classes. The framers of the Constitution of the United States were mostly deists. They believed in a religion of morality based on natural reason, not on divine revelation. They believed in God, but they didn't think he interfered with the natural laws governing the universe. He created the world, and then left it alone--like someone who wound up a giant clock, and then left it to run down on its own. A Bible deist has a lot in common with the natural deist.

They both worship the wrong thing. The deists of the eighteenth century worshiped human reason. The Bible deists of today worship the Bible. Bible deists have great difficulty separating Christ and the Bible. Unconsciously in their minds the Bible and Christ merge into one entity. Christ cannot speak or be known apart from the Bible. At one time, Christ did speak apart from the Bible. He used to speak in an audible voice to people on their way to Damascus, give dreams, appear in dreams, give visions, give impressions, and do miracles through his servants. However, the Bible deist believes the only one who does things Christ used to do. The devil can speak in an audible voice, give dreams and visions, even appear to people and do miracles. Jesus doesn't do these things any more. He used miracles and divine revelation in the first century to wind up the church like a big clock, and then left it alone with only the Bible. The Bible is supposed to keep the clock ticking correctly. That's why a Bible deist reads a passage like Isaiah 28:29:

All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom. . .

and in his or her mind, translates it into something like this:

All this also comes from the Bible, which is wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.
Bible deists have a tendency to substitute the Bible for God. They actually deify the Bible. Bible deists read John 10:27 like this: "My sheep listen to the Bible; I know them, and they follow the Bible." They hear Jesus say, "If I go away, I will send you a perfect book" (John 16:7). What God used to do in the first century is now done by the Bible. If the Bible can't do what God used to do--heal, give dreams, visions--then the Bible deist maintains that these things are no longer being done, and that we don't need them anyway.

Bible deists preach and teach the Bible rather than Christ. They do not understand how it is possible to preach the Bible without preaching Christ. Their highest goal is the impartation of biblical knowledge. Their highest value is being "biblical." Actually, they use the adjectives "biblical" and "scriptural" more often than the proper noun "Jesus" in their everyday speech.

-Jack Deere, Surprised by the Voice of God p. 251-252

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