Saturday, November 28, 2015

An Endless Source Of Eternal Treasure

Desiring God published an article a while back titled Your Bible Is a Gold Mine. The article itself wasn't all that great but the title is perfect. The Bible is indeed like a gold mine but the ore we gather is infinitely more precious than mere gold. It is the recorded oracles of God, proclaimed and preserved for His people so that even 2000 years later we have access to what Jesus and the apostles taught. As we dig deeper the vein of ore is never exhausted but indeed grows richer with each strike of the shovel, a treasure that can never be exhausted because therein is the Son of God revealed. It is not like we can figure out everything useful the Bible has to say in 20 minutes and then find ourselves looking around saying "Now what?". In fact the opposite is true. There are few more valid signs that someone is serious about the Bible than someone who recognizes how little they truly understand about it.

One overlooked aspect of the Bible is that it is the great corrective to the ancient and erroneous systems of sacramentalism and clericalism. Via the system of sacraments, controlled by the clergy and valid only when administered by them, the average Christian is enslaved to the religious system. The only way they can access God, or so they are led to believe, is by first coming hat in hand to the clergy who can grant or revoke access to God by denying the sacraments. The Bible shows that people can know the mind of God in the words He preserved, gaining wisdom and access that would otherwise be denied them by those how desire power over others. How odd then that so many who are the most vocal in opposing the clergy-laity divide are also the quickest to diminish the most accessible tool in overcoming that false and ungodly division. To read some of them on social media you would think that the Bible is something dangerous that should be kept away from the people, rather than the catalyst for the Reformation and the advent of the Anabaptists.

What is the motivation behind those who disparage the Bible, set aside the Bible or discourage people from reading it too much? The most oft referenced reasons have to do with making an idol of the Bible and reading the Bible to the detriment of other spiritual disciplines. There is some truth in some cases to that, especially the most unhinged King James Only advocates, but in general it is a strawman. I think there is more at play here.

The claims the Bible makes and the truths it reveals are often powerfully critical of how we want to live and what those around us think. To take the Bible too seriously is to be labeled ignorant and perhaps a bit dangerous. Rather than seeing it as an active and current source of true wealth unimaginable, many people treat it like an artifact that must be acknowledged and then hidden away like the Ark in the first Indiana Jones movie. "We have top men working on it" which is code for keeping the cover securely shut.

The church is in an era where we need every resource we can lay our hands on and yet some want to disarm the church. A one sided theological armistice might make for fewer uncomfortable conversations but it also makes for a weak and unarmed church in a time when that amounts to suicide.

Don't put a cover over the source of the revelation of God and then declare yourself wealthy and wise. Setting the Bible aside is not a sign of spiritual maturity, it is the precise opposite. If you want to take a stand against clericalism, control and authoritarianism, encourage your fellow believer to take to heart the words that marked Augustine's conversion: Tolle Lege, take up and read.

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