Jesus and Scripture

by Aaron Meares

I have frequently heard some appeal to Jesus rather than the Bible: “We don’t have faith in the Bible; we have faith in Jesus … It’s more important to experience Christ than to study a book” etc. When confronted with such suggestions I usually, ask: “That’s great, but where exactly do you come to understand Jesus without Scripture?” Kevin DeYoung cited a great quote over the weekend (“Is Bibliolatry the Real Danger?”) from J. I. Packer’s Fundamentalism and the Word of God, that confronts this idea:

“Others tell us the final authority for Christians is not Scripture, but Christ, whom we must regard as standing apart from Scripture and above it. He is its Judge; and we, as His disciples, must judge Scripture by Him, receiving only what is in harmony with His life and teaching and rejecting all that is not.

“But who is this Christ, the Judge of Scripture? Not the Christ of the New Testament and of history. That Christ does not judge Scripture; he obeys it and fulfills it. Certainly, He is the final authority of the whole of it. Certainly, He is the final authority for Christians; that is precisely why Christians are bound to acknowledge the authority of Scripture. Christ teaches them to do so.

“A Christ who permits His followers to set Him up as the Judge of Scripture, One by whom its authority must be confirmed before it becomes binding and by whose adverse sentence it is in places annulled, is a Christ of human imagination, made in the theologian’s own image, One who attitude to Scripture is the opposite to that of the Christ of history. If the construction of such a Christ is not a breach of the second commandment, it is hard to see what is.

“It is sometimes said that to treat the Bible as the infallible word of God is idolatry. If Christ was an idolater, and if following His teaching is idolatry, the accusation may stand; not, however, otherwise. But to worship a Christ who did not receive Scripture as God’s unerring word, nor require His followers to do so, would seem to be idolatry in the strictest sense”  (Fundamentalism and the Word of God, 61-62).

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