No Magic Book (by John Frye)

No Magic Book (by John Frye) November 7, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.21.55 PMNo Magic Book, by John Frye

Because the Bible is a supernatural book does not mean it is a magic book. The Bible is supernatural in that God the Creator chose to speak to the human race in its own language—human speech and writing, using as his agents the various authors of the Bible books over a span of centuries. And this post will not quibble about the nature of inspiration and the formation of the canon. The point is that the Holy Spirit’s role in the creating, collecting and identifying of Bible (canonical) books confirms its supernatural dimension. Much popular theology mutates God’s part in the creation of the sacred writings into a form of Christian wizardry. Something “powerful” resides in the words (verses) themselves. To speak or write Bible verses is the equivalent of casting magic powers into life. Think the “John 3:16” guy in the end zone seats. These Christians want more from the Bible than it offers. The Bible does not assume deep powers about itself.

I estimate that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of Bible scholars and teachers who read the Bible regularly and teach it professionally and the “magic” doesn’t do anything to them or for them. One of my Old Testament professors graduated Ph. D. from Harvard and reported that he sat under scholars who knew the Bible backwards and forwards better than most evangelical Christians ever will. These academics had hearts of stone concerning God.  If the Bible had inherent magical powers to change lives, then you would think those who know the Bible best would be the most like Jesus the Christ. Sadly, this is not the case. Even Christians who know the Bible fairly well have a hard time loving, a hard time forgiving, a hard time obeying what they have read to be authoritatively true. The magic is out of the wand.

Along with the Bible, there is a person: the Spirit of Christ. That is one of the names of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). When we divorce or distance ourselves from the Spirit of Christ we will hold in our hands a very religious book titled Holy Bible. We can read it, memorize it, write in cards and post it on walls, but the words will be mere words. The written word lives within an authentic, daily relationship. Without the relationship with the Spirit who was involved in both the creation of the written Word and the Living Word, we do not have eyes to see and ears to hear either. The Pharisees were obsessed with the Written word and severely blinded to the Living Word.

Even more, Jesus warned us, “Whoever hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is a fool.” Words, particularly words from God, live in actions, not in only hearing and reading. Paul the Apostle said that Christians are a “letter of Christ read by all people.” Living, loving, and relating Christians are the best verses ever for the watching world.

A friend tells me, “She has cancer.” I ask, “Who?” She reports about some relative or friend of hers. While I am concerned, I am not involved. Someone says, “She has cancer.” I ask, “Who?” The person looks at me. “Didn’t you hear? It’s one of your daughters.” Every word that person will say to me now has life-changing power. Why? Relationship. No magic. Relationship.

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