Treasuring Scripture

An email from a listener begs Wayne and Brad to renounce the Bible as a distorted religious document that does more harm than good. Many people who have been abused by religion and freshly awaken to the God of love reject the power of Scripture because they simply don't understand what it is or how to read it. Many of them become militant trying to dissuade others from the Scriptures as well. Wayne and Brad respond out of their great affection for the Scriptures and the powerful and welcome part it plays in their own spiritual journeys. Don't let the abuse of some, rob you of the great treasure that Scripture can bring to our lives if we are not lost in the religious misuse of it.

Podcast Links:
The Jesus Lens: Reading Scripture in Light of His Revelation
Previous Podcast: Did God Get a Makeover After Malachi?
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  1. Just a quick note to express “thanks!” for this conversation. Having grown up in painful performance oriented lenses through which to view Scripture…your conversation is helping in the beginning of processing some of this. B/c I’m a “big picture” person I sometimes feel overwhelmed and am reminded to take a deep breath and just do “one step at a time”. As what is twisted is slowly being unravelled, may God bless you and encourage you in these conversations. I know that I am far from alone in what I’m processing. Blessings.

  2. I forgot one thought…through this process there is growing in me (I’m objectively observing this…not making it happen) a tremendous hunger to know God the way that you both know Him. There is a strong passion to have a deeper relationship and engagement with Him. It’s wonderful and very freeing to see that I don’t need to run to other people for this but that He wants to engage me for Himself. Blessings

  3. Wayne and Brad, I LOVE your courage. As you know, Colt is not alone. That death-giving knowledge of good and evil is always there giving us a false sense of insight and worse, the confidence to judge God. As Brad says, “We can have such a distorted lens that has been place upon us.”

    This lens makes us think we can judge the God of the Bible, but using the knowledge of good and evil: if we judge God as good we must also judge Him as evil. Yep! I said it.

    Wayne, your “Jesus Lens” is profound both literally and figuratively. Only with the mind of Christ can the wholeness of God be understood as love –Hebrews 5:14. With the mind of Christ we can look at the Old Testament and see Christ testified of throughout.

  4. Just for those of you who may not know NIV put out a Bible called The Story and is written without chapters and verses and in chronological order. My husband has been reading it and has enjoyed a fresh look into the Bible through reading it this way. You can get it at your local Christian Bookstore (my plug because I work at one :). Great podcast, Wayne I have been enjoying the Jesus lens thanks so much for putting that together. Hope to see you back here in Duncan, B.C. enjoyed visiting with you!

  5. I resonate with Colt’s frustrations and struggles. Thank you Colt for your honesty.

    Thank you also to Wayne & Brad for another excellent discussion. My world is a better place because of you guys.

  6. I’m honored that you bashed me in my email on the podcast, now you know I’m a listener. Maybe I’ll actually start ‘listening’ to what is said about Gods love letter. haha
    I was in a angry spot when I wrote that because I felt like I was loosing a freind through church obligations.
    Thanks for this Brad and Wayne – cleared up a lot. I honestly didn’t know if you guys were behind this book 100% or not, now I know! Really respect you guys and apologize for what I said, that was way out of line. Thanks for all the freeing words.
    Next time your going to spank me on air please give me a heads up — how about I just shut for awhile! 🙂
    Ignorance is not bliss!

  7. Colt, when we bash you’ll know it. This was a friendly exchange among brothers at different places in the journey. And no need for apologies. You didn’t do any thing to harm us, just expressed a point of view we wanted to interact with. It’s all good from our end!

  8. I think I scared the dog going YES! YES! when Brad asked Wayne about always finding new things everytime you read the bible. It’s so amazing to do the “what? was that there before?” So envigorating and encouraging to hear that is exactly other people’s experience, talk about God breathed. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Friendly exchange for sure, no offense at all. I liked every second of it, just caught me off guard! really funny hahaha glad I got all the answers from it that I did.

  10. It may have been the bowl of lemons in milk that I had for breakfast, but Colt’s letter (and his sincerity) sparked my dormant brain cell into temporary activity.

    First to clarify: (i) if you gain from reading the Bible – great quadrant to be in (however a minority of us are not there), and (ii) if you are a Christ follower, it’s an instructive document to read through at least once. However after going through the Bible a few times, in a few translations and even going through a few books on how it was canonized, I have lost interest in going through it one more time. Do I think it has historical value – yes. Was the OT helpful for the early Jewish Christians – definitely. Do I think it includes writings by people who loved God – yes. Could I find something new by reading it again – yes.

    But … I am becoming somewhat of a mystical old phart, leaning more towards a priority for personal guidance by the Holy Spirit. I speculate that the clergy/laity system (formalized during the 300s AD) along with canonizing scriptures (standardized by this same system) has partially resulted in a diminished focus on what the Holy Spirit is currently doing. (Although I admit that there are times where it can be instructive to read how the earlier followers thought through certain issues.)

    In my sour anti-cessation view, the Holy Spirit is not stagnant and may have a lot of new and uncharted territory to lead us into. The NT was only the beginning. Now rather than just going over the past, I wish to catch a glimpse of where Jesus is leading His followers now (re current relevance). My (possibly warped) mind just does not get this from reading the Bible. For those who can extract this info from the scriptures that’s a great place to be, but that’s so not me.

    Apologize for the lemonic attitude. I certainly would not want to discourage anyone wrt reading the Bible, but Colt’s letter caused me to think.

  11. Wow Jim I hear ya! I wish I could express it like you, that was well said. Don’t feel like such an alien now! haha I feel like God is doing so much with my life right now — but not reading the Bible, apparently I’m missing out? So, I’ll keep an open mind because I want all God has to offer me but in no way am I going to start reading the bible again out of duty! I’m gonna wait until I have that desire from HIM… we’ll see, just gotta stay bitter free in the process so God can work… Anyway, another day in freedom 🙂 stay in the journey. Thanks for your truth Jim!

  12. Sorry, but I disagree respectfully with both Wayne/Brad and Colt. I believe that the Bible is more than a story (I just don’t think that this is good terminology) and that you cannot bring yourself closer to God without it. I believe that there is power in the Word of God. Again, a supernatural thing takes place when God’s Word takes up residence in your heart–it changes you. Trust me, there is nothing I can do to make that happen–but make myself available. I can name time after time that God’s Word has answered some question I was having spiritually. When I had daddy issues, He told me through His Word (Isiah) that even if my father and mother forsook me, He never would. When I was living a lie, He told me through His Word that I had to walk uprightly in my own home (Psalm). One thing He has been showing me lately is that I am not going to understand Him. My problem has been that I have wanted God to explain Himself. He has been saying to me, “My thoughts are not your thoughts.” When I was in Religion World, I let others tell me what It said or what I should believe. Now I open It up expecting the Holy Spirit to be my teacher. Could I lay my life down, take up my cross, and follow Him without it? Not a chance!

  13. “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want. (John 5:39-40 The Message)

    Even though it’s a paraphrase… it’s interesting what the bible says about the bible. Jesus IS the word.. and I too love my bible, but not over Jesus. Okay, going to listen now to the podcast. Always enjoyable!

  14. Spent many years reading/studying the bible searching for understanding of God and of life. During an extremely painful part of life started praying for truth…about everything….God “put together” alot of what i had been searching through by picking apart… and led me into a whole difterent perspective. Yes, i still read it at times, mostly the Gospels, and i realize how many verses are “used” as means to human ends. I think the words that so many want to take so literally truly have much deeper meaning. just as Jesus’ teachings do….and the Spirit brings that understanding by putting it all together in our hearts rather than by intellectual analysis, memorization and “studies”. So many studies just lead back to trying to do it in our own strength…. and talking about love in bible class got me viewed as some kind of heretic lol.

  15. No matter what happens in this world, or what we do or don’t do, God’s love overcomes, overwhelms, outlasts it all….to me, that is what the cross is about. The love of God lived in the world by Jesus was so revolutionary, so contrary, so dangerous to those who judge, that He had to be killed….except that God’s love can’t be killed, it triumphs over evil, over judgment, over death, even when we don’t/can’t/won’t realize it. So when we lay down our life, we lay down what the world/flesh/religion tell us about who we are and what we “should” do….after all, Jesus was the illegitimate son of a carpenter from Nazareth who was living as a homeless person and going around disturbing the status quo….and take up God’s love and let the Spirit help us to love as Jesus did. Our cross is not our burden, our cross is our liberation….the freedom for which Jesus set us free. When we are no longer conformed to the pattern of this world but transformed by the renewing of our mind, everything changes…..what changes us?…..when we pass over into God’s love.

  16. I have been listening to the God Journey and the Jesus Lens Podcast and enjoying them. Perhaps you address this in your Jesus Lens series….if we acknowledge that the scripture is God inspired/God breathed and yet men made decisions about what should/should not be included in the canon (i.e the Apocrypha), what if we are missing something? Is the Canon closed? Is God still revealing/inspiring scripture? I haven’t read any of the Apocrypha for fear that I would be lead astray, is this something worth studying or were the men who decided not to include these books led by God not to do so? If He is still revealing scripture what is the ruler that we use for new revelation?

  17. I think Brad hit a nail on the head when he talked about reactionary responses. I find myself as a youngly retired pastor ( praise God I saw the light ) for 13 years I preached things like coming to church is a sign of faithfulness to God. Now if someone invites me to church I almost want to spit nails. (I don’t because the pastor in me still has a ever lessoning voice) I find my reaction to most these people is not because I don’t believe that traditional church has no bibilcal standing but reaction most probably comes from years of thinking I was preaching to people who cared and they didn’t ( that may be a reactionary belief also) I personly am standing at a cross road trying to figure out what to do at 40 ish years old thinking I waisted 13 years of good money making family supplying income for my wife and children and I’ll I’ve got now to fall back on is God and my Bible (and the love and support of my family) In all the confusion that has been created by Christian history I implore anyone reading this to continue reading and praying through the understanding of love and freedom not duty and preformance, read it again for the first time I think the one thing church history did well was the canon ( bible ). I have seen just as many people think they can go it alone with the Holy Spirit crash and burn as much as the obligated believer. That’s what Paul was looking for when he wanted everyone involved open dialoges witheach other over scripture and life in relationship (they wouldn’t have had news papers and emails to spark conversation) just some real friends talking about life (you guys can use that if you want could make a good tag line)

  18. Yes, Tamara, all that is discussed in The Jesus Lens somewhere. Inspiration issues are in the first one, and the Apocrypha is discussed briefly in the last one, which isn’t posted yet… There’s 22 audio’s in between and I hope they all help people find the treasure that is in the Scriptures and not dismiss the greatest tool Jesus has at his disposal to help us know him and the ways in which he works…

  19. @ Jonathan. I hope you never feel that you have totally wasted time in your 13 years as a Pastor. You have seen religion from the inside and are now in the timely position of mentoring others out of its deadly grip. Hope you find a new career that you enjoy and that provides for your family.

    @ Tamara. My perception on the “A” books is that Jerome (who provided one of the earliest Latin translations of the Bible,) classified the documents that he had access to into what he felt were books that should be read for the edification of the church (canonical) and those that were less important (apocrypha). Others like Augustine did not use this same distinction and included more books in their opinion of what was canonical. Actually the Book of Revelation almost made it into the Apocrypha for a couple of reasons, and Martin Luther also had this view. Because the books labelled as apocryphal were not considered as important, only some few have survived until today. Unfortunately a lot of those that have survived are “Dan Brown” material in my opinion.

    @ Wayne. I have really appreciated all the work that went into your Jesus Lens series (I have listened to 15 sessions so far). Still for me, I am inclined more towards the Trinitarian approach where the Bible is the “word” and Jesus is the “Word”, and the Holy Spirit leads us into truth (which can at times include the Bible). That’s why I like to read post NT stuff like Athanasius. But hey, I’m just weird. Thanks again for sharing your Jesus Lens series with all of us.

  20. “The bible is worth more than all other books put together”. I think that is as true today (even in a post “Shack” world) as it was when the patriot Patrick Henry said it.

    I do share some of the frustration that others have mentioned. I am undecided about the belief that the missing originals were perfect and I am not sure that it matters (since they are missing). I believe that we have reasonably accurate copies that are not perfect – but the book as a whole still outweighs all other books combined.

    My biggest peeve is when people call the bible “The Word” (usually with a deep voice and a stern look) – I am probably jumping to conclusions, but when I hear that it makes me think that the person is deifying the bible. I was raised protestant/evangelical, so I never knew until later in life that during the reformation the Catholics accused the Protestants of having a “Paper Pope”. When I read that, I could see why they said that. And I see that the reformers knew that the Pope was fallible, so they fell back on the bible (in a way) but really, the only infallible one is Jesus.

    Can we see Jesus as the “perfection” and still love the bible? He loved it, I do too.

    I wanted to say to Jim – hey, I am mystic old phart too – but doesn’t that make it even more interesting to read what those ancient mystic pharts wrote?

  21. Russ – you are absolutely right, old phartz should by definition like old documents including the OT.

  22. This is a heavy topic, one that clearly has not been talked about enough with a spirit of grace and understanding for differences of opinion. It’s good to see that happening here.

    The Bible once was a tremendous encouragement and gift for me. But over time I became dependent on it, substituting a relationship with God for Bible study, and also got into some very toxic and damaging interpretations of it. When I began to break free of the bondage of my religious experience, I couldn’t read the Bible without being brought back to where I was before.

    Today, it’s getting a little easier but I still struggle with the Bible a lot. I’ve found that using a translation that was entirely new to me (The Message) has helped me a bit. But lately, I’ve tried to keep it simple when it comes to whether or not I should read the Bible. When talking to others and dealing with myself I simply ask, “What is on your heart?”

    Sometimes I just need to shut off all the noise, opinions of others, etc. and let God be God. While there is importance in other peoples experiences and advice, God alone knows my heart uniquely and knows exactly what I need at each point in my journey to get wherever it is that He’s taking me. At times this has meant reading the Bible, and at other times this has meant walking away from it.

  23. The above was a quote from Erkki 12: 20-38.

    Seriously though, I always love your comments Erkki – they are straight from a heart of love and breath life into these conversations.

  24. @ Erkki, so if I understand you correctly, it is not the bible that is the problem but how we have used it as a substitute, and how we might not be willing, or able, to go to it without our “old” ways coming back?

    @Laurel I am not sure what Podcast you listened to, but both Wayne and Brad were endorsing the bible. I respectively disagree with you on that one cannot be close to God without it. 1) none of the 5000 in acts 4 had the new testament as a whole, nor did any other believers until centuries later. 2) There are many instances, such as prisoners in the Gulags, where people have come to know God without it. That being said, I think that since it is available, I would be only hurting myself not to allow God to use it to reveal more of Himself to me. Also, I don’t think they were using the word “story” to imply fiction but rather to show that everything in it is part of God’s revelation (story) to
    us. But now I am speaking for them, or rather what I understood them to mean.

    @Colt Though we haven’t gone through the same processes, I do value and look forward to your posts. I may not totally understand where you might be coming from, but I can tell it comes from the heart of where you are at, and a heart longing for God will never be disappointed in the end.

  25. Jim – if you like those verses from the Book of Erkki, wait until I get to the Apocalyptic Prophecies 😉 It’s always a pleasure, my friend. I’ve especially enjoyed your comments in this conversation. Thank you!

    Jacob – In short, I do not believe the Bible is the problem. At the same time, I think the Bible can be difficult to understand and the abuse and misinterpretation of it is extremely widespread. I’m more comfortable now I guess just focusing on God and allowing him to guide and sort out with everyone individually what level of importance the Bible should or shouldn’t have in each of our lives.

  26. I think the whole concept of the Jesus Lens is spot on. I came across this commentary on John 1:18

    “In the bosom of the Father – It denotes intimacy, friendship, affection. Here it means that Jesus had a knowledge of God such as one friend has of another – knowledge of his character, designs, and nature which no other one possesses, and which renders him, therefore, qualified above all others to make him known.”

    Therefore, viewing scripture and Father through the lens of Jesus is going to the source of the best intel around.

    Thank you Father for these guys and for doing what they do, and letting us join in the conversation.

  27. Thanks Jacob for pulling up John 1:18 (“seen” in the Greek can imply with the mind or perception).

    Based on your comment, I am now going to invoke the “special powers of proof-texting” and combine this verse with 1 Cor 10:4/Exodus 32:6 – could these lines imply that the person of the Trinity who Moses was conversing directly with, and who was dealing directly with Israel was the One who became Jesus Christ? Thoughts anyone?

  28. Jim,

    I do believe that Jesus is the Creator spoken of in Genesis, and thus is the God of the OT (invoking those same “special powers”, I submit John 1:1-5 as evidence). 🙂

    I also think that Moses, having been educated by the finest Egyptian theologians and scholars, had an Egyptian view of what a god is, and interpreted Yahweh through that understanding. (No special powers here, just my own opinion.)

    But with Jesus as Creator, the cross is not a Father throwing His Son under the bus for the sins of all mankind, but rather a Son coming to the Father saying “Dad, I love these people I created. What will it take to make them not afraid of me anymore, so they will come to me?” The Father’s answer is not an easy one. But the Son says, “I’ll do it”.

    And the rest, as they say is – “His-Story”. 😉

  29. I have had that same idea, that the one the old testament people were conversing with was the Word. I though Jesus alluded to this, but right now I cant think of the passages.

    Yes, I noticed that “seen” in the verse can mean “to see with the mind, to perceive, know”

  30. Until we all come to the understanding that the Holy Scriptures reveal Christ Jesus as the central message we will always have this debate of whether to study the scriptures or not. For those Christians who are saying they are having a blast without studying their Bible I just laugh, because how can you engage God without his revealed Word through scriptures. Jesus told the pharisees that the origin of their error was their lack of knowledge of the scriptures and the power of God Matthew 22:29. He also went as far as saying that the scriptures reveal Him John 5:39.

    The Holy scripture is such a beautiful book when studied in the light of God’s love revealed through the death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I would encourage all believers in Jesus Christ to study it diligently for they reveal the Word of God….Jesus Christ!

  31. Jacob,

    Jesus may have alluded being the God of Moses John 5:46 –

    “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.”

    Some may see that as meaning isolated messianic prophecies, but I think a case can be made that Jesus was saying that the Yahweh Moses wrote about was, in fact, Him.

    It’s also interesting that during the transfiguration, Jesus was chatting with Moses and Elijah as if they were old friends…

  32. Also, Jesus said “before abraham was I AM ” which was a claim to be Jehovah (Jireh, Rapha, Nissi) of the OT. Which is why they tried to stone him.

    The transfiguration, yes, and what did they speak about at length, his upcoming death. That was their focus of their conversation.

  33. The way I’m seeing it lately is that, due to the darkened mind of humanity, no one could clearly see what God was really like in the OT. They just kept projecting their darkness onto God and were unable to see Him clearly. Christ, the incarnation, is the clearest revelation of God there has ever been. When He said that no one has seen the Father except me, I think He was challenging the image of God they had in their mind. They had perceived God wrong. Christ said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

  34. I take a little different perspective on the bible, somewhere between where Wayne is and where Colt is.

    That is to say that, to me, the bible is a collection of writings by a whole bunch of amazingly different folks, at different times of history, different cultures and different backgrounds (education, etc..) who were “inspired” by God in their lives. What does “inspired” mean in this context? I’m not sure. I tend to take Wayne’s view that they wrote about God or their experience with God based on the light that they had so that, for instance, the author of Ecclesiastes (Solomon purportedly) wrote God as he perceived God from his vantage point at that time— here we start getting into those thick waters of hermeneutics and exegesis that I would rather avoid. But suffice it to say that, at the very least, every book that is included in the bible is valuable for me today as an expression of mankinds’ interaction with God and that unfolding story. (Very Wayne-like so far, i think).

    Where I depart from Wayne (i think— feel free to correct) is that I do not, for example, assign any special or higher significance to the writings of Paul of Tarsus than I would to any, other believer with similar maturity, experience, credibility. In other words, when I read the letters of Paul as gathered up in the “New Testament” I am reading a fellow brother who expressed his opinions on a wide range of topics and doctrines. To the extent that those opinions agree with and support what Jesus said in the gospels, I give them higher credence and influence. To the extent those opinions venture into areas that Jesus never addressed or remain murky, or that seem to be in conflict with what Jesus taught or did (and, yes, I think there are portions of the epistles that at least *appear* to conflict), then I am free to disagree or give little weight to those writings.

    So, for example, when Paul writes to the Corinthians about the role of women in meetings, that is his opinion (and not a very persuasive one in the 21st century although it might have made sense to someone back in 70 A.D.). When I read Paul’s writings I imagine myself sitting around the kitchen table with him and others and agreeing with some things, being encouraged by some things, but other things disagreeing about.

    The key, to me, is that Jesus is the focus and source (that whole, Jesus Lens thing– which I am enjoying). Unlike Wayne, I do not attach any particular importance to the work of the bishops in the fourth or fifth century deciding which books were approved and which were not. I would read the Apocrypha the same way I would any book in the bible: how does this compare with what I know about Jesus from the gospels and what I know and have experienced with Jesus personally? I don’t think that the “love letter from my wife” is the best analogy because we do not have anything written by the hand of God. In other words, no book of the Bible purports to be a first-person narrative; it is all written by observers, participants, historians, people who, like John or Mark, wrote down what they heard Jesus say and saw him do. So nothing in the bible is really “from God” in the same way that a letter from my wife would be. A better analogy would be letters, articles, books, opinion pieces about my wife that tell me what she said and did and bring to my mind those things that I love about her and even things that I didn’t know about her. But, as Brad has said many a time over the years, if all we had were those writings *about* God without any, present day communication, it would be impossible to have a relationship. Communication needs to go both ways. Thank you, Jesus, that we *do* have that two-way, living and active, everyday relationship that does not depend on my poring over old articles, letters, books etc.. but is real. He is real!!! That is the difference, to me, between all other religions (including religious christianity) and Jesus.

    Bottom line for me is that I do not get hung up on the canon, or whether every word of the bible is absolutely from the lips of God and unchangeable. Because he is real, I am confident that the Spirit can make all of that clear to me. I am at home with Papa and Jesus and he has plenty of time to straighten me out and use whatever he wants to use in my life. As Wayne said so well in an ancient podcast, it may be a stupid way to live, but, you know, God loves idiots, too.

  35. I plan to spend a good hour reading all of the above comments, as this topic is at the top of my list. The other night I had to really earnestly ask God for a desire to explore the Bible. I’m not sure why I don’t have one, and it frustrates me that I am hungry for Him, but not hungry for his scriptures. When I sit down to read, it’s like a mental wall goes up. I suppose I’d worry about it less, if I did not feel external pressure from fellow Christians. However, that’s not my primary reason. If Jesus wants to speak to me, I want to make sure I have ears to listen—or to read in this case.

    PS: Am I right in feeling uncomfortable calling the Bible “the Word”?

  36. I’ve been praying the same thing kinda… I don’t want to miss out on Jesus and how he can really transform my life. So I have asked for this desire as well – to read the Bible… I really do mean well and try and hope I can find value and growth from the Bible “the word” Theres just something there… IDK what it is but I can’t escape it. I want the full life Christ talks about… Honestly I still struggle with Jesus himself so maybe I’ll just keep it simple for now with the prayer, “show me how much you love me today God and make yourself real to me.” I hope I don’t miss out.
    I love the honesty everyone 🙂 Thank you

  37. Colt, I just wanted to say that I’ve felt the same… maybe anger (not sure if you were angry and to be honest I didn’t read all these entries so I’m not sure if this was addressed) towards religion and the Bible and stuff, and don’t feel bad for that. God has led me through so much of that anger, and feeling like you’ve been beat up with the Bible is not an easy thing to walk through. God is so able to get us there though, and when we’re wrong and make mistakes He isn’t “put off” by us or mad at us. Let Him show you the love He has for you, and in that He has some incredible ways to lead you through and show you where HE wants you TODAY… with everything, including scripture. Much love!!

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