God Didn’t Write The Bible. We Did.

God Didn’t Write The Bible. We Did. November 27, 2019

When it comes to the Bible, you have to decide whether or not you believe that God wrote the Bible and people helped, or that we wrote the Bible and God helped, sometimes.

Growing up I was told that God wrote the Bible and people helped. This view was reinforced by pastors who held up that book and called it “The Word of God”, even though it was quite obviously the words of Moses, and Joshua, and David and Jeremiah, etc.

But, curiously, the Bible never makes this claim to be written by God. It is quite transparent about who wrote what, usually. Yes, there are certain passages where Jeremiah or Isaiah or Moses might say, “Thus saith the Lord”, but everything before and after that is quite obviously not dictated by God.

Even more obvious is that the titles of these books usually bear the name of those person who supposedly wrote it –  Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Micah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc. 

The real challenge for those who hold to this view is that Jesus shows up and very boldly challenges a lot of those “Thus saith the Lord” passages and flat-out contradicts them. Where Moses says that God brings rain on the just but sends drought on the unjust, Jesus affirms the exact opposite; that God brings rain on the just and the unjust alike, and that because of this truth we should also love both sets of people, too. [Because this is who God is].

Where Moses says “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, Jesus says we should love our enemies, turn the other cheek and bless those who curse us.

Where Moses says “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.” [Deut. 6:13], Jesus says that we should not swear at all and that swearing oaths is “from the evil one.”  [Matt. 5:37]

Yikes.

Where Moses says that those who commit adultery should be put to death, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Just consider the audacity of writing a book and then calling it “The Word of God” for a minute. Can you imagine anything more blasphemous?

The Gospel of John does us a favor by pointing out that the “Word” was with God, was God and became flesh to dwell among us. Notice that at no time in this sequence is the “Word of God” ever written down. Never.

The Word is not a Book that we wrote about God. The Word is Christ. The Word became flesh and we have been trying our very best to get it into a Book ever since.

Simply put: The Bible is not a book written by God. It’s a book written by us about God. There is a huge difference.

The Bible does not claim to be our hope. It points us to Christ who is our hope.

The Bible does not claim to be our authority. It tells us that Christ is our authority.

The Bible does not claim to be the foundation of our faith. It reveals to us that there is one foundation and this foundation is Christ.

The Bible does not claim to be infallible or inerrant. It shows us that Christ [and Christ alone] is our source of Truth.

There is no life in the Bible. Jesus said so. He warned us that we could search the Scriptures and never find life in those pages. Our only hope is to come to Christ – directly and personally – to find our life hidden in Him alone.

A dead religion of laws and rules bound in a book is only useful to those who want to manipulate and control people using fear.

A living relationship with the One who fills everything in every way is what we’re invited into here and now. But you just might need to close the book long enough to step into that reality and experience the living Christ for yourself.

But, doesn’t the Bible tell us that:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” [2 Tim. 3:16-17]?

Actually, no it doesn’t say that.

The word “Scripture” is in your English translation. But, if you look at the Greek text you’ll notice something alarming: The word “Scripture” doesn’t appear in that passage.

It’s true.

The word translated “Scripture” in your English Bible is actually the Greek word “Graphis” which is not the word for “Scripture” but the common word for “Writings”.

The text actually says: “All the God-breathed writings are useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”

This begs the question, then, “What are the ‘God-breathed writings'”?

The answer is: “Any writing which is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..”

That can be something from the Bible, or from Rumi, or from Buddha, or Brene Brown or Anne Lamott, or anyone whose words inspire you, teach you, correct you and lead you into a deeper connection with God and Christ.

So, for example, if you’re driving down the road and a song comes on the radio that touches you deeply, speaks a profound truth to your soul, that is an “inspired” song. God uses those words and that moment to communicate something life-changing to transform you more into the image of His Son.

This doesn’t mean that God wrote that song.

It doesn’t mean that the song is inerrant or infallible.

But it DOES mean that the Creator of the Universe used those words to speak a profound truth into your heart at just the right moment, to lead you nearer to Himself and bring healing and life to your soul.

That’s inspiration. That’s how God’s Spirit uses anything, and everything, to communicate Truth to us in everyday our life.

This is the Word of God which is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. It’s not a Book. It’s the living Spirit of Christ.

Christ is not bound by any book, or held captive by any religious text.

Neither are you.

**

Keith’s new book, “Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment” is available now on Amazon.

 Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife have returned to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure. They hope to start a new house church very soon.
 Can’t get enough? Get great bonus content: Patreon page.
Are you an aspiring author? Keith is leading an Author’s Academy starting Nov. 4. Learn how to become a full-time author and crack the code for building your platform and marketing your books online. Details HERE.
Podcast: Heretic Happy Hour Podcast is on iTunes and Podbean.

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Remove inerrancy from the Bible and it can no longer be weaponized. Fundamentalist Christians found out a century and a half ago, that an inerrant text could excuse and indeed, encourage the owning of other humans. The subsequent “battle for the Bible” led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers. In the aftermath of that struggle, the inerrantists never admitted they were wrong, and since they felt they had lost a righteous cause, racial discrimination and marginalization continued under segregation laws.
    The legacy of that struggle amongst fundamentalists has cast a long shadow over evangelicalism, which was an offshoot. To this day fundamentalist use an inerrant text to attack women, refugees, gays and people of color. The Bible is much easier to bend to that purpose then Jesus is, hence the term “Bible Believing Church,” so often used. It is easier to cherry pick the Bible and follow what one likes, or meets confirmation biases, than to actually follow Christ.

  • This is so true, yet you most likely will never hear this taught within the institutional church. It was not until my wife and I left the religious system and started learning these truths through the Spirit that things really started to make some sense. Jesus is the Word. The Bible tells us about Jesus and about God, but it is not the Father, Son and Holy Bible. Because the bible is not inerrant does not make any difference about God. God is god even without a book. We can learn about him from the bible, yet so often the bible is given to much authority and prominence. Look to Jesus and follow the leading of the Spirit from within.

  • Herm

    To reaffirm your offering directly from the Bible:

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

    and

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31 (NIV2011)

    I can only testify that this is so in my life, carnal and in spirit. Thank you Keith, for once again sharing truth as you know it.

  • Kendall Fields

    Your lies against the truth of God is pathetic especially when you don’t understand it.

  • Illithid

    But, ah… in the line just prior, 2 Tim 3:15, they’re called “Holy Scriptures” in the NIV. Wouldn’t that have to refer to the Tanakh? Not just any writing, surely.

    Also, “all A are B” does not mean “all B are A”.

  • Great piece, Keith. As an interesting aside, I heard Dr. Don Keathley say on one of his YouTube videos that he believes that the Word of God being sharp and active and all that, is precisely when the Spirit speaks directly to you, as your example of the song on the radio would illustrate. This would dovetail very nicely with my own experiences. In fact many of the God-encounters related in the Bible are precisely that sort of thing, where God speaks to a person completely out of the Blue, and that changes things. This is exactly what the Word of God being ‘living and active’ is all about, whether that Word comes from the Bible, from a song, from a sunset, or wherever. It’s when God speaks something to us that changes everything.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Yeah. “The writings” was apparently a very common way of referring to the Jewish Law, Prophets and Writings and in context it seems pretty obvious what is meant.
    Keith’s rewriting also appears to me grammatically impossible. The conventional translation inserts an “is” into the Greek after “scripture” which is not there, but Greek, (as I understand it) omits the “is” in nominative sentences, and you have to put the “is” simewhere. However, the passage’s English word order otherwise matches the Greek and there is definitely an “and” after “God-breathed”: you can’t, as Keith does, just pretend it isn’t there, replace it with an “is” and claim that’s what the passage “really” says, because it flatly doesn’t.
    That being said, Keith is just undermining his own otherwise perfectly valid point by monkeying with the text, in my view. All the Timothy passage actually says is is that the Jewish scriptures Timothy has been studying all his life have the breath / spirit of God in them and are therefore useful for teaching and spiritual development, and should not be abandoned as some Christians (albeit we only have records of somewhat later) asserted they should be.
    The passage does not claim for the Bible infallibility, inerrancy or any of the other things Keith rightly says it doesn’t claim even without a, I would say rather dodgy, attempt to re-write it, nor does it claim any exclusive authority.
    I like Keith’s writing and he makes some good points, but I think he has a tendency to unnecessarily throw large chunks of the Bible under a bus. I think Keith has very clear instincts as to the nature of God what the message of Jesus is about, but his “go to” response where fundangelicals throw up proof texts for stuff he can see is obviously wrong seems to me to be to then ditch (or re-write) the relevant bit of the Bible rather than considering whether in fact it is the fundangelical understanding of it that is wrong.

  • Al Cruise

    I concur. So many of us can relate to what you say here. God is talked and written about in the academic world, and there is definitely place for that, but God lives and is active alongside us in the real world.

  • Eeyore

    Then present your arguments in favor of inerrantism. Make your case instead of merely asserting something as if it were self-evident.

  • Kendall Fields

    Sure but then what evidence do you have that actually proves your point oh wait you guys don’t have jack squat.

  • Al Cruise

    Then it should be easy for you to present your evidence for close scrutiny, let’s see it.

  • Kendall Fields

    Yeah and you guys have provided me with all I need as Jesus was not against oaths with God but against foolish oaths like the kind Jephthah made. The guy who wrote this article acts like every other atheist who can’t read the Bible.

  • Yeah, I think I understand where you’re coming from and agree. Jesus brings a renewed conviction, IMO, that was hinted at by the prophets, that Justice without mercy is not justice. In doing so, Jesus places the “Law of Love,” above, or as the final interpretive methodology when following Scripture. In other words, a slavish, wooden and literal use of Mosaic Law, is simply legalism and justice becomes brutish and ultimately, unjust. If this understanding is true, then it explains why he said, “I have not come to abolish the Law.” Instead, he brings a new understanding to following God, one that mirrors the immense mercy and love of the Father. It would explain his interaction with the woman caught in adulatory, and his subverting of the Laws in Mathew 5. Inerrancy undermines the ability for the Law of Love to subvert the text as Jesus did. It becomes a return to Justice without mercy, tribalism and ultimately, a God who’s “Holiness” makes Him unable to forgive billions of humans, who are cast aside unto eternal torment.

  • Al Cruise

    Looks like your scared to present your evidence.

  • Kendall Fields

    And why would I be scared?

  • Al Cruise

    Because we still haven’t seen it yet. ?

  • Kendall Fields

    Oh you have seen and it is right in front of your face but you ignore it in the face of a man who knows so little of scripture.

  • Al Cruise

    Tell us in detail what I am ignoring . Quit hiding behind meaningless babble.

  • Kendall Fields

    You are ignoring what is in scripture yet deny it. It doesn’t take much to understand what is discussed such as the lessons taught by Jesus, Moses, Daniel, and so many others.

  • Nimblewill

    The Bible does not claim to be our hope. It points us to Christ who is our hope.

    The Bible does not claim to be our authority. It tells us that Christ is our authority.

    The Bible does not claim to be the foundation of our faith. It reveals to us that there is one foundation and this foundation is Christ.

    The Bible does not claim to be infallible or inerrant. It shows us that Christ [and Christ alone] is our source of Truth.

    If we can’t trust the bible why should we believe that it points us to Christ for any purpose whatsoever? It seems a little odd to me that the comments in this thread are quoting the bible to show Keith is on point…………..and I believe that Keith is on point. I think we cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  • I agree, because due to the points you raise above, it becomes a circular argument.

    I think the main point, for me at least, is that we cannot trust the Bible *by itself*, as in it can’t be ‘sola scriptura’ if the Bible does indeed point us to One Who is above and beyond it. If that God exists, then He (almost by definition) is the authority above it *and* must be allowed to add His own comments as we listen.

    The Bible must be interpreted in the light of Jesus; personally I ask Him to explain to me what He’s saying at any particular point, as in my other reply above. Sometimes He’s not saying anything, in which case I either walk on by that passage, or I simply enjoy it for what it is but without necessarily having ‘God speak to me’ through it. When people say ‘Let Scripture interpret Scripture’, I agree partially in that some passages don’t make sense unless you understand the wider Bible narrative. But two points come from this: one is that some NT passages can be used to reinterpret OT passages, but the opposite is rarely true. Because of the progressed revelation of Jesus, some, if not all, of the OT *must* be viewed in the knowledge that Jesus has come and also in the light of what He taught, and how He interpreted the OT Scriptures; secondly, while Scripture can indeed interpret Scripture, that interpretation must be subservient to what the Spirit is saying. Therefore, yes, let Scripture interpret Scripture, but above this we need to let the Spirit interpret Scripture, and He always trumps it.

    Some might protest that this means that different people will hear different things from the same passage. So be it. If the Bible is as ‘magical’ * a book as Evangelicals believe, this should not be a surprise. God has used the same Bible to speak to different people in different ways all down through the ages, and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

    But sometimes the passage comes alive, again as I wrote above. The problems come when people make the Bible subservient to God/Jesus/Spirit, or, worse, assume the Bible is simply talking theory and ideas when actually God is real, far more real than the Bible. In short, for some, the pursuit of God is simply an intellectual exercise based on a thousands-of-years-old book, rather than a quest with an actual goal in mind – i.e. God Himself.

    *
    The idea of the Bible being a ‘magical’ book is simply a different way of expressing the Evangelical belief that God can use it to speak to people, its words carry power, and it can supposedly be quoted and its words change things. By any other name, that sounds to me like magic, and while Evangelicals would of course balk at using such terminology, that’s what it amounts to. Almost like a spell book. Quote a Scripture at a situation and, abracadabra – amen!, the problem ‘disappears’. If only things were that simple 😉

  • Nimblewill

    We are in full agreement. Christ in us is the hope of Glory.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    Kendall, Kendall, use the brains that God gave you and add a big dose of common sense.

  • Kendall Fields

    And I have used what he has given me. But have you used what God has given you? Because going by your comment it suggests otherwise.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    Son, or young lady, you do not know me. I can tell you that I worked in the medical field, using science, however God’s hands were there as they are everywhere.
    God, my dear, young lady or young man, is spirit and that spirit is in each and every living thing encouraging all humans to be all that they can be and all humans should encourage others to be all that they can be.
    God is in plant life, too, urging plants to be all that they can be.
    To excoriate others whom you do not know is not what God or Jesus would want anyone to do and to be frank, it is unchristian..
    Furthermore, never assume that you know another person, you cannot.

  • Judgeforyourself37

    Dear Kendall, you do not seem to be receiving any “up” votes. Perhaps you are either on the wrong site, or your arrogance is off putting.

  • Kendall Fields

    Given your comments you have shown me how you think and act at least online anyway young child. You should be encouraging people to follow God and not promote evil.

  • Kendall Fields

    Do you think I really care?