Why I Am Not Ashamed of the Scriptures
by Fred Pruitt
(Adapted from a previously published article: Universal Salvation Part Three)
What of this mysterious thing, this book, this Bible I have been quoting and referencing in the so-far 451 articles on this blog? (That was two years ago. This is #598.) It is under quite an attack in our time. Of course, it is not new that the scriptures are under attack – that has always been the case for some. But instead of the attackers being non-Christians, these days they seem to be coming from their historically most avid supporters – some evangelical Christians!
In a sense, the Bible, the scriptures, defies description. There are a few passages in which the book seems to announce its own worth and necessity, but even without those passages, the book stands on its own. I know what it is to me, and that was settled long ago. I had a tremendous struggle regarding, “believing the Bible,” in my pre-salvation days, and it was one of my impediments to coming to Christ. I’ve told that story many times, so no need to do it again.
The question is, what is it to YOU? I don’t use words like inerrant or infallible. That’s just more human reason. No, I use words like Light and Treasure. About gold and precious jewels of the Spirit, that shine off its pages. About things hidden from the wise and prudent, but revealed unto babes. I’m talking about a miracle, if you see it. If you have seen the wonder and miraculous quality of this book, you know!
No matter how much the scholars take it apart and explain it away, to those with eyes that see, the story told from Genesis to Revelation, with numerous authors with probably different viewpoints and theologies, is one continuous thread of redemption and restoration, one complete story, that no “plan” of man could have pulled off, since it was put together over a thousand or two years and no visible “master plan.” As I said, to the eyes that see, it all fits, it all works, and it is all leading to one end, and kings, priests and prophets of old longed to know and see what we are given through grace and mercy and love to see right now in our midst. Let us not be ignorant of the time of our visitation – as many were ignorant in their time.
It was a long time before I saw the whole things in that total way. One day, before I said, “Yes,” to Jesus (there was no other answer at the time available!), it was a book of mystery that often made me mad. The next day, after I said “Yes,” and WOKE UP, and every day after, undeniable Life and Light communicated to me out of it – for the past four plus decades, and still counting!
We really cannot define the Bible in a human way. When we attempt to take it apart like that, we end up with textual criticism, contradictions, two Isaiahs, synoptic gospels which all had Document A common, Documents B and C which somehow amalgamated together and came out as Matthew, Mark and Luke, and a whole bunch of other surface unimportant information that just tickles the intellect. Men can be proud they know such things, and pat each other on the back and give each other awards and accolades for their great learning and scholarship, except that knowing and thinking too much of those things, tends not to lead to faith, but just good old-fashioned unbelief. I have no problem with scholarship. But scholarship that leads to unbelief I would throw out the window. It is true, non-Spirit scholarship could only conclude that the Bible was written by men, and therefore many many many believe it is men’s growing “ideas” about God, and nothing more. (That is a “favorable” view of the Bible.)
And that was a question I had to answer in my beginning days. Is it a book written by men only, and only men’s ideas or understandings of God, etc.? Or, does it somehow come from the hand and mind of God? There is no dispute – men wrote it, assembled it, and got a committee together (Council of Nicaea), and declared it “THE” orthodox “Word of God.” We all know the truth of that. Were they correct?
Here is a question I’ll throw out. Has anyone ever had a discussion with a non-believer, trying to get them to see the Bible as “God’s word?” If so, were you successful? Did they take your word? I haven’t “argued” about the inspiration of the Bible with anyone in decades, because I learned early on it did not do any good. One must see and understand for oneself. So I certainly wasn’t going to challenge that discussion on that blog, coming as I do from my “scripture zombie” viewpoint.
(2016 note: That’s why I don’t “debate” with unbelievers over silly stuff, trying to get them to “accept the Bible” as God’s Word as if that is what they need. Most people only see the full truth of 0Scripture as God’s (written) Word and get Life from it after they are born again. If someone is not already in Life he has no capacity to believe against modern scholarship in what is to modern western man only the myths of our culture, just as the Greeks had their myths. It is rare to penetrate through the mist of deception to get someone to “believe in the Bible.” I learned in my earliest days there is only one gospel of Christ to preach, and that is Jesus Christ, Son of God, Who died to redeem mankind from its fallen condition, first taking care of our sins by blotting them out forever, dying to the Sin that had infected the whole human race, and raised again in triumph and in His Resurrection and Ascension He raised us to newness of Life through the Holy Spirit Who was poured out onto all flesh at Pentecost. THAT’S the Gospel that penetrates and reaches their innermost place and draws people out of darkness. Telling them they are going to hell if they don’t believe the world is only 6000 years old or that Adam and Eve, etc., is a myth, only perpetuates the division and is not true.)
Now, I am not a person who believes “the Bible” is part of the Trinity. I might have been a “thumper” years ago, but those days are long past. I am one of those who for the past three plus decades have been saying the scriptures are pointers to the Real, but not the Real themselves. I have also said that “scripture reading” is not something we do to gain favor or think if we have done so much scripture reading God will give us spiritual brownie points. It must take a living root in us.
Now, if I have given anyone the impression I disregard or have no use for scripture (I don’t see how I could, seeing every piece of writing is littered with it), I apologize. There is no “law” which says one must read one’s Bible on a daily basis. However, never one time have I even hinted we should toss it out altogether, or chop out parts of it we do not like or agree with. Without even thinking about it, it just being what has occurred with me and the Book over the years, I have seen the truth of Paul’s word to Timothy, take form in my own life:
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:14-17).
I take this one seriously, too. God gave us the scriptures in order to communicate to us through words. In the Fall, in a sense we fell out of the “unified WORD,” and into the chaos of “words” – Babel! And anyone whose business is with “words,” knows what a miasma that can be. When we first come to scripture as beginners, it’s all just a bunch of words, that we may read over and over and over, with little understanding or seeing how it all fits together. We get little bits to start out usually. But as we go, the little bits join with other little bits, and we begin to see certain “understandings” take form and we begin to see patterns in scripture that play out in life.
Without our directly realizing it, the Spirit is using the words of scripture to build Christ’s building in us. It happens so naturally and in a sense, so slowly, it’s like a plant growing out of the ground. Every day the plant is a little bigger and more mature, but to the plant it is just “today” and it takes in today’s water and sun and soil nutrients and processes all those things in its little photosynthesis factory, taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (outbreathed by all living creatures), and using it in the photosynthesis process to output oxygen into the atmosphere – for those same living creatures! That is its daily job. And then one day fruit appears, quite naturally in the fullness of time, growing right out of the plant’s branches. Starting as a seed, it grows up to be a life-giver to the world! The scriptures are part of that photosynthesis process for us!
But just taken in the “natural,” the scriptures are confusing and preposterous to the modern technological-oriented man, though still appreciated by some as “world literature,” but placed in the category with all the world’s other “religious myths.” Even the more liberal “Christians” think of it like that.
But when the Spirit communicates Christ to us through words of scripture, it surpasses every aspect of the wisdom of men and their ideas. There is no ability to appreciate or understand the scriptures without the Spirit. But in the Spirit, there is no reason to fear the scriptures, because they testify of our sonship in Christ! And the scriptures communicate these specific things of God to us that can come in no other way, except words, because for now, until everything is finally restored, by God’s purpose we are still in the “weak and beggarly elements” of this world and still have to live, give and receive in the way of this world – using words.
It is wonderful to find God in nature, in sunsets at the Pacific Ocean, big sky at night in the Rocky Mountains, since all those things testify to the glory of God. As the Psalmist said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (Ps 19:1). And I do not deny one could meet God in that way. I have been blessed that way many times.
But God has not chosen to plainly display the specifics of the need of our salvation, and the outworking of His overall desire to manifest the Son through the Sons, fully through nature alone. Trees and valleys are beautiful and truly do speak of God in every sight and breeze, but they do not give the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Saul and David, Solomon, of Elijah or Elisha, nor even John the Baptist or Jesus Christ. People may think those are just children’s stories, or morality plays, but in these simple stories are the full realization of Christ in us, the Fall and its ramifications, the extent to which Christ goes for us and in us, and even the realization that He is our inner life. We learn all those things from the stories and writings we call scripture, and there is no other pure source where we can find them.
These are the things that put the HUMANITY in our understanding. God didn’t just send down a correct theology for us all to acknowledge, and that be that. God came in Jesus Christ and WAS the TRUTH He came to give us. He came in a human body like ours, and felt everything we feel, thought everything we think, and was tempted to sin just like everyone else. God had to communicate all that, and much much more, using men’s words. And the scripture by the Spirit, is the one and only perfect communicator of that.
Still, there is no law one “must” read and/or teach the scriptures. I would just give one caveat to that. If one decides he has a “new revelation” that, in order to be proven or seen as true, the scriptures as they have come down to us from the forefathers must be negated, discredited, or thrown out, then I think that one probably might find himself in the category of Paul’s word to Timothy:
“These things [sound doctrine] teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Tim 6: 2c-5)
Or worse, this one:
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim 4: 2-4).
Going back to that site I mentioned earlier, the “how much of the Bible is inspired and how much is not” discussion is simply reflective of things I see on a daily basis. I suppose it was interesting chatter, but to me it was just a bunch of intellectual mind-tickling completely devoid of faith, and I took the advice in Proverbs 14:7 – “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.” I have nothing to discuss with those men. It struck me how they held in their hands the most precious “physical” thing in the world. Over the centuries men and women died for the sake of getting it into the hands of common people in their own language. In parts of the world today the greatest gift one can give is a Bible, because it is forbidden and suppressed, even unlawful to possess it, in some places. Why would anyone denigrate it so?
Yes, the Bible is not God, but I will testify that to me it has been God’s perfect purposed communication to ME through the fog of the deception that binds us hard and fast in the prison of our own self-godhood. It is not the Treasure itself, but for certain it is the only right and perfect and True pointer to the Real Treasure that can be put into words in a form men can understand. But those folks seemed to regard the scriptures as a cow would regard a piece of gold if you threw it a piece. What’s gold to a cow?
Do I seem harsh?
Let me tell you, this is throwing out the money-changers times! We come with a refiner’s fire. Take these things hence! Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise! As it is written, ‘The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up!’