Just recently I was in a seminar given on post modernism. This was slightly tedious for me. The presenter was German. I am not sure if his particular style was due to his precise cultural make up, or whether is he new to the concepts of post modernism. I suspect it is a little of both. He was extraordinarily modern in the way he presented the concept of post modernism. Then again, many of the people in the room were also quite modernist in their approach.
Many of the people in the room made a number of comments that really pressed my buttons. "How do we relate to 'them'?" "Aren't post modernists just selfish, always thinking of me and what feels good?"
Hello, I'm sitting in the same room as you.
Towards the end of the seminar some one made some very radical comments. There was a deadly silence that filled the room as he spoke. I was the only one that clapped him when he finished, and I am sure some people were ready for some blood letting.
This (now friend) said that we need to go "beyond scripture." This made a lot of people cringe. But there is a serious question to be asked of evangelicals. I prefer to refer to myself as a neo-evangelical. Evangelicals often (not always) hold the bible up as an idol. It is as if truth can only be found with in the pages of the bible. This is a dangerous concept.
How does John refer to Jesus? Jesus IS the Word. The bible is the word of God, but the Bible is not God. It has been said at a different time during this conference that God is Love, but Love is not God. I agree. A pantheist could easily say that Love is God, and an evangelical often portrays the Bible as God.
After the main seminar a few of us had a debate. I started out by saying "When Abraham read the scriptures..... oh no, wait a minute Abraham didn't have the scriptures." Abraham had a relationship with the Living God. For sure God spoke to him in very clear and audible ways, even appearing in person to him. But Abraham learnt about God and grew to know God through relationship with God. God taught Abraham to have faith, then Abraham taught it to Isaac who taught it Joseph and his brothers, who taught it to their descendants, who taught it to the Gentiles, who taught it to us. There was a testimony of faith that carried down through the ages. The scriptures became a record of these testimonies of faith. But the scriptures are records of encounters with the living God. To read the bible alone, does not equate as an encounter with the Living God. There needs to be a witness. That witness needs to come from the Holy Spirit, and it also often comes from others who have had an encounter with the Living God as well.
Secondly, "when the early church read the scriptures about Jesus death and resurrection.... oh no, wait a minute the first gospel (Mark) wasn't written until 55 AD, so the early believers had to believe for another reason." Paul tells us in Corinthians that over 500 saw the risen Christ, and that he also had a vision of the risen Christ. John tells us that they touched the flesh of the risen Christ. They believed because of the testimony of the believers. The new testament becomes a record of these testimonies.
I have had the scales removed from my eyes and I have seen the risen Christ too. So therefore I believe because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit to me and the testimony of others. It is very important to remember that God revealed himself to us through progressive revelation. The witness of creation is a powerful one. Paul argues that no one is without excuse to believe in God, due to the witness of creation. The witness of the Holy Spirit is also vital. Many have come to faith in Jesus with these two alone, before ever putting their hands on a bible. The witness of believers is the next most important thing. It shows that the faith is alive. The testimony of scripture confirms all of these things. Scripture is indeed God's word, but unless it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, then it is just words on a page, that liberal scholars love to have fun picking apart.
I too hold the bible in high esteem and believe it to be the full authoritative word of God. But I am leary of the evangelical line that holds it in a place above God at times, even when they do not see it.