“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.”
About a week ago, I read a tweet from John Piper that read: “God is the only thing more important than the Word of God.” The tweet captured my interest, and I hit that easy little button: retweet. Later that day, I checked my account and looked at the @replies and noticed one from a person whom I had never met.
The man named Jamal Jivanjee had written a blog that set afire a touch of controversy in my heart and mind.
The main point of the article echoed the sentiment of Piper’s tweet – that God is the highest entity. The article made a case that Christians should not capitalize the ‘w’ in the phrase Word of God when speaking about the Bible (even capitalizing the ‘b’ in Bible seems to become a problem for him). Mr. Jivanjee writes that the only true Word of God is Jesus Christ Himself. One of his main points is that Jesus Christ is the Word and He is flesh; He is God and “NOT a book” and this point resonated with a lot of those who read it based on the comments section (as it should have).
I could disagree with nothing in the his article, nor would I ever want to. Something about his article, however, doesn’t feel right. Perhaps it was the motivation behind the article, which within the few articles I read on his blog, seemed more or less genuine. I agreed with some of the words that I read from his site, but I could not consent to it. So, I disregarded it. I continued to study the Bible. I continued to consider it the Word of God.
Then yesterday, I had a conversation (via twitter) about the difference between justification by faith and justification by works and the complications that come from seemingly contradicting verses in the Bible (Romans 3:23 and James 2:24). My conversation with my friend brought me back to this concept of capitalizing the Bible and calling it the Word of God.
I will continue capitalizing the terms that refer to Scripture – not out of worship and not even necessarily out of honor. At least, it’s not out of honor or respect for the material book itself.
Mr. Jivanjee cites several verses in the Bible in order to argue his point. My favorite being the verse that starts off my own piece. I came across John 5:39-40 a while ago and it blew me away. I’d say that the Spirit spoke through me with immensity through those verses, and it continues to stick with me. I had always known that I didn’t worship words on a page, but the illuminating fact that Christ tells us that Scripture points to Him. It encouraged me to be reminded that my relationship was with a God who wants me to know Him completely as He fully knows me (1 Cor. 13:12).
As I meditated on this, I couldn’t help but feel as though Mr. Jivanjee was missing something as his blog seems to accuse the American Church as a whole of missing something.
Jamal Jivanjee calls out the evangelical world for worshipping the Bible. I don’t exactly understand what he means when he says this. I don’t know what he means by worship, and I disagree that capitalizing it matters all that much. Just in terms of the English language, we capitalize proper nouns. So not capitalizing Bible just seems inconsequential.
Now, not calling the Bible the Word of God is a completely different matter. I can understand Mr. Jivanjee’s conundrum, but we cannot belittle the importance of Scripture. When Christ speaks those words in John 5, He’s not belittling Scripture. He’s not saying that it’s unimportant. Instead, He is saying that it is all pointing to Him. Just from the time that I spend reading the Bible, I can say that I feel His breath and life all over it.
I can tell you that as I read Jamal’s article, I cannot for the life of me understand what his final purpose is, and that feeling exists as I read a lot of his articles. He has a lot of good things to say, but in the end, I don’t understand what the heart is behind the words he types.
So, I can agree with Jamal that we don’t worship the Bible, but God is revealing Himself through Scripture. It is ultimately all the story of Christ. It’s important to know it and study and have it. No, it’s not necessarily necessary. Christ is ultimately the only thing that matters, but Scripture is saturated with the identity of Christ and the method of Christ.
The Triune God has a message for creation, and that message is ultimately the truly glorious nature of God. That message is ultimately made flesh and carried out in Christ. The Bible demonstrates how God reveals and has revealed Himself over the course of history. Jesus is not the leather-bound book on the table beside the bed. The message that’s being spoken inside that book, though, it is the message and Word that is Christ. The Bible screams the glory of God because God shouts through it.
You can read Jamal Jivanjee’s post here.