Wright, Scripture, and Jesus

N. T. WrightI recently read a response from N. T. Wright (Wikipedia) to an individual with concerns about Wright’s views on a variety of subjects. Toward the beginning of Wright’s response appears this statement, which piques my curiosity and strikes me as odd:

I believe firmly and passionately in scripture, and even more firmly and passionately in Jesus himself.

I’m puzzled by the notion of differentiating between the level of confidence and fervency of my belief in Scripture and my belief in Jesus. The two are connected, as I’m sure Wright would affirm. I believe in Jesus only insomuch as He is revealed in the inspired and inerrant Scripture. I believe in Scripture only insomuch as it is the inspired and inerrant revelation of God—Jesus being the revelatory center. To believe in one (or perhaps I should say One) more than the other seems to me problematic, much like my saying I believe my wife more than I believe what she says to me.1 To believe my wife, that is, to consider her truthful and trustworthy, is to believe what she says, to consider it truthful and trustworthy, and vice versa. I cannot think of any reasons for speaking in terms of a greater firmness and passionateness of belief in my wife than in her words.

My first reaction is to wonder if this evinces a belief that Scripture is somehow less true and less reliable than Jesus Himself. But I’m not sure what Wright meant by the statement, and speculating will probably not prove a very fruitful task and may even result in charges of libel. I don’t have Wright’s direct contact information, nor do I think that it is a question worthy of bothering a very busy man. So instead I’ll invite my readers to enlighten me on the matter. Have you come across something in Wright’s works that would perhaps shed some light on this curious statement? If so, I’d appreciate your sharing it with me.

Footnotes

  1. I realize I’ve changed the expression from “believe in” to “believe,” but I think such a change was necessary (since if I said I believe in my wife, you would take that to mean something entirely different from what we typically mean when we say we believe in Jesus) and actually preserves the meaning Wright intended, since to believe in Jesus means to believe Jesus and to trust in Jesus’ truthfulness and trustworthiness.

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17 Responses to Wright, Scripture, and Jesus

  1. Gabe Martini June 3, 2007 at 10:54 pm #

    I think you need to just let it go and don’t be so nit-picky. I don’t mean this in a *mean* way, either. Just some friendly advice.

  2. Wonders for Oyarsa June 4, 2007 at 12:57 am #

    Perhaps it might help to talk about believing your wife vs. believing in a letter about your wife written by a trusted friend. You trust your friend, but you trust your wife even more – and the letter is treasured for revealing things about your wife to you.

    Jesus is the center of our faith, and the scriptures are signposts pointing to Jesus. The signposts are invaluable, but the destination is supreme.

  3. Al June 4, 2007 at 5:00 am #

    I think that Wright probably says that out of a conviction that Scripture is not the primary object of our faith, but that Christ is. When we confess our faith we confess a faith in Jesus and His works which is ‘in accordance with the Scriptures’. However, interestingly, ‘I believe in the Holy Bible’ is not one of the statements of the creed. Scripture informs our faith at every point, but Scripture itself is not the heart of our faith — the Triune God is. Scripture is thoroughly trustworthy, but the point of Scripture is to point us beyond itself to the One it bears witness to. Scripture’s purpose is to serve as a lens through which we can see Christ. The risk is that we will begin to focus on looking AT the lens, rather than THROUGH it.

    To ‘believe in’ someone is more than simply believing that a book tells us the truth, or that the words of a particular person are the truth. Faith is a personal trust and allegiance. Our posture of faith towards the Scriptures derives from a deeper posture of faith that we have towards the trustworthy One who gave them to us. We believe in the Scriptures because we have faith in their author and the One who wields His authority through them. Evangelicals have long been at risk of having an overly formal doctrine of Scripture that makes Scripture too central as our object of faith, rather than directing our attention towards the true Word of God, Jesus Christ.

    We use the language of belief in many ways. Wright seems to be using the terminology in a stronger sense here. He is not suggesting that he believes the Bible to be slightly less reliable than Christ Himself. The difference between Christ and Scripture is more to do with type of truth. The Bible is true; Jesus Christ is the Truth. For this reason we must be more firm and passionate in our beliefs about Christ than in our beliefs about Scripture.

  4. Phil Gons June 4, 2007 at 6:09 am #

    Thanks for the comments.

    Gabe, the only way I can agree with your friendly advice is if Wright didn’t really mean what he said, which is, I guess, a slight possibility, and one that I briefly considered. But if Wright indeed did mean what he said—and I think he did—I’m afraid I can’t simply let it go without seeking to understand it. If Wright is right, then I want to understand so I can adjust both the practice and expression of my own faith.

    Wonders (I do not know your real name), I think your illustration demonstrates how one could speak this way, but I find the neccessary corresponding view of Scripture troubling. The Bible is a book written by the friends of Jesus about Jesus, but it is, in my view, more than that. It is also inspired and authoritative revelation from and about Jesus Himself. I don’t think that Wright, when he says he believes in Scripture, means that he believes that Paul qua Paul is trustworthy.

    Al, helpful thoughts. Thank you. I will ponder them some more.

    Phil

  5. Mark Horne June 8, 2007 at 10:57 am #

    Well, what do you do with a Bible-believing, inerrancy-affirming, Arian? It seems to me that Wright is making the point that the Bible points beyond itself to a person.

  6. Phil Gons June 8, 2007 at 11:14 am #

    Not sure I’m following you here, Mark.

    As for the Arian, I consider him a false teacher.

    I agree that the Bible points beyond itself to Jesus and that He is its central theme. I’m still struggling to see how that means my faith in God’s words should somehow be less firm and passionate than my faith in God Himself.

  7. Charles R. Cherry June 9, 2007 at 2:07 pm #

    I have to line up with WondorsForOyorsa and Al.

    I was raised to believe in the “inerrancy” of Scripture – that God “protected” His special revelation of Scripture from the moment of inspiration and original writing, through all of the seemingly endless numbers of copies and translations, so that what we have in the Bible today is the inerrant, infallible, pure Word of God. (I believe this is the current Evangelical way of speaking about the Bible – correct me if I am wrong).

    I have come to realize, though, that for this to happen would have required a miracle at every stroke of the pen (or setting of the type, or punch of the key, or press of the keyboard), and it would seem to elevate the men and women who copied and translated the Bible to the same level as that of the original authors. I am not ready to claim that Kurt Aland, Jr. or Bruce Metzger were “inspired” in the same way as the Apostles Paul or Peter.

    It is one thing to claim that the original autographs were inspired and inerrant (the former is easy to accept, the latter not so easy, at least for me), and quite another to hold up a modern translation and say, with confidence, that what you are holding is the equivalent of the original manuscript in every way.

    In my opinion, to claim that the Bible is equal to God (which I think is what you are claiming – If I am wrong, please correct me) is nothing less than bibliolatry, or making an idol out of the Bible.

    I concur with the above comments about the Bible pointing us to God. I cannot concur that the Bible is equal to God.

    “My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Of course, I needed the Bible to tell me about Jesus’ blood and righteousness, but that does not make them equivalent.

    Blessings to you.

  8. Wonders for Oyarsa June 10, 2007 at 6:29 pm #

    Wonders (I do not know your real name), I think your illustration demonstrates how one could speak this way, but I find the neccessary corresponding view of Scripture troubling. The Bible is a book written by the friends of Jesus about Jesus, but it is, in my view, more than that. It is also inspired and authoritative revelation from and about Jesus Himself. I don’t think that Wright, when he says he believes in Scripture, means that he believes that Paul qua Paul is trustworthy.

    You can call me “Wonders” or “WFO” (but not Oyarsa) – I don’t go by my real name on the web (not because I don’t want to tell you – but because I don’t want anyone with a Google search to be able to pull up every idiotic thing I ever said and compile a book like the “Bushisms”).

    Anyway, all I’ll say is that I find Wright’s approach to scripture very helpful, and you would do well to read him. Some of his writing is simply fantastic. He has a book called “Scripture and the Authority of God” or something like that (the scary American title “The Last Word” was picked by the publishers and not him). But it’s all wrestling with how God exercises his authority through scripture.

    I think my analogy holds, by the way. Sure, the Bible isn’t just a book written by friends of Jesus, but Jesus isn’t just a person like your wife. Jesus is God in our midst, and the Bible is the inspired (and yet quite human) witness of him given to us.

    But rather than cling to the inerrancy I grew up with, I’ve come to see the relationship between the human and divine agency in creating scripture as quite a mystery – a mystery not unlike Jesus himself. What does it mean for a person to be 100% human and 100% God, so that the more human he is, the more God he is? What does it mean for a book (or series of books) to be the word of God and the writing of free human agents? What a glorious question – and rather than tying myself in knots trying to reconcile every historical detail in gospels, I try to see what God is saying through the different perspectives about Jesus – his ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

    So I trust the Gospels to teach us right about Jesus – and I trust Paul as well. But I trust them as authorized witnesses to a thing even grander than their writings – the thing in fact to which their writings point. And I trust the Bible, not because I came to it in a vacuum and found it to be inerrant, but because Jesus has proved himself faithful and worthy of my believing allegiance, and to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest his inspired scriptures are part of what it means to follow him.

  9. Phil Gons June 11, 2007 at 7:16 pm #

    Charles,

    Thanks for the note. I don’t think your understanding of the evangelical view of Scripture is quite on target. They speak in terms of the inerrancy of the autographa, not of the copies or resulting translations. (The KJV-only folk are an exception, but they hardly represent mainstream evangelical thought.) While some believe in a doctrine of preservation, none that I’m aware of would claim any kind of inspiration or inerrancy for the copyists. So I think you’re barking up the wrong tree here.

    As to your second point: no, I am not claiming that the Bible is equal to God. What I am claiming is that the Bible (in the autographa) is as true, reliable, and authoritative as God is. In other words, what God says is just as true, reliable, and authoritative as God Himself. If you affirm that the Bible is the Word of God, I don’t know how you could deny this. If you affirm that parts of the Bible are the Word of God, I don’t know how you could deny this for those parts. If, then, the Bible is as true, reliable, and authoritative as God is, then I find it difficult to believe in the Bible with less firmness than I believe in God Himself. If the Bible is something less than the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God, then I can fully understand how one who want to differentiate between his faith in the Bible and His faith in God.

    Wonders,

    Thanks for the follow up. I’ve read a fair bit of Wright (and am currently analyzing his view of justification in my dissertation), but apparently haven’t gotten a good feel for his view of Scripture yet. I’ll definitely have to take a look at The Last Word at some point. Thanks for reminding me of this work.

    I don’t really disagree with the rest of what you say, nor do I see how it requires speaking of differing levels of faith in God and His revelation of Himself and His purposes.

  10. Nick Gill July 18, 2007 at 9:01 am #

    Dear Phil,

    Perhaps Dr. Wright is trying to articulate something about eternality. In 1 Cor 13, does it devalue faith and hope when Paul says “the greatest of these is love”?

    Scripture as we have it will pass away, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, Dr Wright’s belief in Jesus is qualitatively different and perhaps quantitatively greater than his belief in Scripture.

    Scripture won’t save us, whether we understand it or not.
    Jesus will save us, whether we understand him or not.

    in HIS love,
    Nick Gill
    Frankfort, KY

  11. Brian July 16, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    Phil, Wright wrote:

    “I believe firmly and passionately in scripture, and even more firmly and passionately in Jesus himself.”

    At this moment, I have no clue who Wright is, so I respond only to this quote, not a full understanding of his psychie. I would agree with Wright wrote because Jesus himself basically advocates exactly this to scripture-followers of his time.

    Let me explain.

    I am coming to believe that Christian life is a more rich and textured fabric than narrow readings of the Bible allow. I accept what Jesus spoke about breaking the Sabbath and calling himself God in John 15:16-40. I think the story speaks to this issue.

    Why do fundamental Christians insist on obeying the Scripture? It’s not about “getting to heaven” or “being saved”. It’s not even about being right and Holy, per se. Those are all pieces of the journey to the destination, or something you find at the destination. But the destination of the journey – the fundamental reason to do this thing called obeying God (therefore the Scriptures) – is to Honor the Father.

    Jesus gave this answer about why His behavior was not acceptable to the people of his day who staked their lives on conservative readings of their Holy Word. In John 5:23, he says the intent of the Father is “..that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

    In the same conversation, Jesus prioritizes himself, words of a great prophet, and words of the Scriptures, starting in verse 36. He puts himself at the highest priority. “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

    I note that an alternative reading of the original Hebrew could lead one to translate “Diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (In other words, an imperative command to action that will take them toward eternal life.) I think it’s more likely Jesus meant to parallel the previous sentence which identifies their error. The first translation is also more consistent with Jesus next sentence which basically says, “Even though you are reading the Scripture, you refuse to accept their lead.”

    Jesus wraps up the discussion again pointing out that the audience’s claim to Scriptural authority is undermined by the precise fact that they don’t believe (and act on) what it says. Remember that Scripture the audience had at the time was the books of Moses. Jesus said in verse 45 and following, “Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

    If you deny Scripture, you deny Christ because you have no pointer to him. This much a narrow reader of the Scripture agrees with me. Yet there is an additional step. If you pick up a lecture pointer and fail to use it to understand the content of the slide show on the screen, your pointer is useless. I see too many Christians waiving pointers around doing an excellent laser light show. Many have forgotten the content of the presentation.

    Perhaps a better analogy is a long-barrel rifle. The rifle barrel can be the Scripture, which sets a believing Christian toward an answer (the bullet). Once the bullet leaves the barrel, it meets the currents, eddies, and turbulence of the air (life) that would deviate it from its path to the target. Jesus is the escort through those twists and turns of life. It would be nice if the end of every barrel (God’s Word) could be placed directly against each target and the trigger pulled. It sure would be easier to hit targets. That’s not what life is about because that’s not what God has chosen life should be about. He is interested in a relationship and continued upholding and obedience – your “flight path” (you’re the bullet in my analogy) – as you move in life.

    More important is the life lived in obedience to Christ’s ways, than the Scripture itself. Hence, it makes total sense that someone would write, “I believe firmly and passionately in scripture, and even more firmly and passionately in Jesus himself.”

  12. Phil Gons July 16, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    Brian, thanks for the comment. I may reply more later, but a few quick follow-up questions:

    1. What do you believe in more: Jesus, or what Jesus said?
    2. What do you believe in more: God, or what God said?

    Also, you said,

    More important is the life lived in obedience to Christ’s ways, than the Scripture itself.

    What reliable source do we have of Christ’s ways apart from the Scripture? If we have none, then this is a dichotomy that we cannot make.

  13. Andrew Bellamy September 20, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    Belief, the kind we talk about as Faith in the Bible, entails 2 things: knowing and trust.

    Wright has talked about (following the Jesuit philosopher Bernard Lonergan) an epistemology of Love – saying Love is the primary mode of knowing, over and above ‘test-tube knowing’, which holds the privileged position in our culture.

    Now, knowing Christ is not the same as knowing what the words he has said-of course it isn’t-one is relational. Love is involved in both kinds of knowing. If you love Jesus, you’ll love the words he said. But a love for words or ideas is not the same as the love we have for a person.

    If we have a love-knowledge of Jesus, it results in trust and likewise with Scripture. But to trust a person is not the same as to trust a document (however divinely inspired). To trust a document is to believe what it says to be true. But to put one’s trust in a person is more. One is propositional, the other personal. We have a propositional trust is Christ: we believe what he says corresponds with reality. But we also have personal trust in Christ, believing he is the Ultimate Reality, staking our lives on him, having an interpersonal relationship with him. We don’t have a personal trust in Scripture–which isn’t to say we hold it less true, just that it can’t be trusted for what it isn’t: the person of Scripture is Christ and the personality we sometimes ascribe to it is imbued by him.

    We can’t relate to the very holy *thing* Scripture the way we relate to the very holy *person* of Christ. To say this doesn’t rob the thing of its holiness, only gives the reason for it (which is the person). In your metaphor, the words of the wife have trust and love imbued to them by the wife. The same words said by another wouldn’t have them. Likewise the Scriptures are holy because of the holiness of the One who ‘breathed’ them but, without the Scriptures, Christ would not be diminished (though we certainly would be, as we’d know little about him).

    Israel looked for God’s redemptive work to be carried out through Israel’s history, not the Torah. In that sense they believed in Messiah in a different way than in the law. Likewise it is the Christ of history who brings God’s redemption to bear upon the world, not the Scriptures. But our connexion to the Christ of history is the Christ of faith found in the scriptures. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.

    We see the sun because of beams of sunlight reaching our eyes. But we do not see the sunlight. Holy Writ is an extension of Christ to us, but to be in sunlight is not to be in the sun (thank heavens).

    So the difference is primarily one of kind, rather than degree. That is only part one of he answer though, since ‘firmly and passionately’ and ‘more firmly and passionately’ are phrases implying degree after all. However, if we think of the 2 different kinds of belief/knowledge/trust that I have described. We’ll see that we have one of them in Scripture, but both in Christ.

    Finally look at the two adverbs themselves:
    Firmly – ‘On Christ the Solid Rock’ – The Scriptures are foundational, but Jesus is the foundation of the Scriptures. Holy Jesus, therefore Holy Scriptures. Not Vice Versa.

    Passionately – Think of the wife metaphor again. You may be passionate about what she says, but not in same way that you’re passion about her. Again divide it into the two types and you find one contains the other: the passion for the woman contains everything that’s in the passion for her words, but there is also more. You’re passionate for her because of her whole person not just her conversation.

    So, “I believe firmly and passionately in scripture, and even more firmly and passionately in Jesus himself.” can say “I believe Jesus in the way I believe in scripture, in the same kind of firmness and passion. But I also believe in Jesus in in a different way than I do in scripture, with a different firmness and a different passion, in addition to those I have in scripture.” And try putting the other words in place of ‘believe in’ to see how well all of them fit: ‘Know’, ‘Love’, ‘Trust’, ‘have faith in’.

    Our faith in Jesus justifies us; faith in scripture is a necessary by-product. Christianity is not ‘epistemological’ (a system of knowing), rather it’s ontological (rooted in being). We must become a ‘new creature’. Christ is that new creature and makes us into that new creature, as we’re conformed to his image. Scripture is the necessary means to that end, a bridge (with the Spirit: they’re inseparable) to what we are from what Christ is and what we will be in his likeness. But it’s a bridge to be crossed. That’s why the destination is believed in/loved/trusted/sought after/etc. in not just the same way as the bridge. It’s a step farther and therefore gives the bridge its purpose and value. The bridge exists for the destination.

    One longs to see the drawbridge lowered across so that he can enter into the castle he has journeyed so far to reach. But he cannot be said to long for it as ‘firmly’ and as ‘passionately’ as for the castle. His mind has connected the two–he can’t have the castle without its drawbridge–but his heart yearns for the castle, and not the drawbridge. The husband’s mind goes out to the wife’s words but his heart only quickens at their sound because it belongs to her. We will come to the drawbridge and to the conversation with joy, but we must know where our hearts belong.

  14. Josh Fink March 20, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    I haven’t read all of the comments on this post, so forgive and ignore me if this was already said.

    Wright is just speaking in typical Wright fashion. One of the big points he likes to make is that we get obsessed with the terminology of our theology and not the truth or reality of it. He frequently makes the point that we are justified by faith alone, not by believing in justification by faith alone.

    His point about Jesus was just a rhetorical statement to say that not only does he love and defend the scripture as the word of God, but that he loves the God of the word (i.e. Jesus) even more. I think most orthodox Christians would say the same thing.

    I’ve been reading Wright for a while now and while I disagree with him sometimes and absolutely LOVE him at others, I think this is about as clear as I’ve EVER read him. He tends to be vague sometimes and never give you a definite answer on things. In this letter he has just said “I believe in the virgin birth and in the Bible. He’s just a few statements away from quoting the Bob Jones Creed! I’m just really surprised that out of all of the controversial things to debate Wright on, this would be the one that gets pulled out.

  15. Phil Gons March 20, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    Josh, you said,

    I think most orthodox Christians would say the same thing.

    I’d love to see if you can find a quote like Wright’s coming from a conservative evangelical who believes in inerrancy. I have a hunch that you won’t be able to. Inerrantists don’t speak of trusting Jesus more than His Word. I’m happy to be proved wrong.

  16. Josh Fink March 20, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    I’m sorry, I think you missed my major point on why I believe Wright would make a statement like that. I apologize for not being clear.

    I believe that what Wright is saying is that he wholly loves and believes in Scripture. Anyone who reads his works only has to look in the index to see how much of it he uses to support his ideas (agree with his interp. or not, the Bible is his basis). In fact the second half of this article he is doing nothing but exhorting his critic to search the Word and use it as his proof, foundation and “rock.” He even says “…you suggest I don’t believe in the whole scripture — well, I’m sorry, but exactly that belief is the rock on which the work of my whole life has been based.”

    So I really find it a waste of time to take THIS particular article and question his belief in Scripture. It’s like taking the American National Anthem and using it to suggest that Francis Scott Key has a low view of the United States Flag.

    Second, I’m sorry I phrased my statement, which you pulled out, that way. I should have said “I think most orthodox Christians SHOULD say the same thing.” In John 5, Jesus himself is saying this exact thing. He is saying that the jews were so obsessed with the scripture and primarily their interpretation of it that they missed the Messiah right in front of them of which the Scriptures were pointing. V. 39 reads: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” Now, I don’t intend to delve into a Barthian-esc debate about the relation of the Word to Jesus, but think about the apostle John who pointed this out. He was the one who went to such great lengths in Chapter 1 to show the importance of Jesus as The Word and here he is pointing out just how Jesus himself felt about it. I think that orthodox Christians (especially those who believe in inerrancy) should look forward with Paul to the day that we see him, whom we have only known in part through his word, “face to face” (1 Cor. 13).

    Also, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 2Tim 3 he tells him to remember the scriptures that pointed him to “faith in Jesus Christ,” not “faith in his Word.” He is telling Timothy to love Scripture and use it and live by it, not because it is the end all, but because it points to the actual Jesus.

    I am a proponent of the inerrancy of Scripture, I love the word and it really is the basis for everything I do (which is why i’d rather discuss the verses above than look through systematics to find a theologian who would make my statement). But I really would much rather be with Jesus himself than reading the Bible, and I don’t think that’s an absurd claim for an orthodox Christian to make.

  17. Phil Gons March 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    I really find it a waste of time to take THIS particular article and question his belief in Scripture.

    If you find it a waste of time, I’m not sure why you’re commenting here. Guess you don’t have anything better to do with your time. :)

    I don’t think I’d ever talk the way Wright did. It just doesn’t make sense to me. The evangelicals that I’m familiar with wouldn’t either—at least not that I’m aware of. I just found it a curious statement was wanted to think through it and get insight from others. That’s never a waste of time—at least in my opinion.

    In John 5, Jesus himself is saying this exact thing. He is saying that the Jews were so obsessed with the scripture and primarily their interpretation of it that they missed the Messiah right in front of them of which the Scriptures were pointing.

    I think you’re missing it with your reading of John 5. The problem wasn’t that they took the Scripture too seriously. Quite the contrary, they didn’t take it seriously enough. Jesus drives this home in the end of the chapter. Their problem is that they don’t believe the Scripture and therefore don’t believe Jesus. Read verses 46–47, and notice that Jesus calls them to believe His words.

    Also, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 2 Tim 3 he tells him to remember the scriptures that pointed him to “faith in Jesus Christ,” not “faith in his Word.”

    Obviously the goal of Scripture is faith in Jesus, not faith in the Scripture as an end in itself. I’ve never even come close to suggesting that. No evangelical I’m familiar with would say that. So, frankly, I’m not sure why you’re even bring this up. I think you make a false dichotomy, as if faith in Christ can somehow exist apart from faith in His Word—or perhaps just to a greater degree. But I don’t see that in 2 Tim 3—or anywhere else in Scripture for that matter.

    Here’s my big point: making a distinction between the degree of faith believers have in Jesus’ words and Jesus Himself is philosophically nonsensical. Take John 4:50 for example: “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.” What did he believe more? Jesus or His word? That’s a nonsensical question. Jesus is only as reliable as His words are reliable. To say it another way, you can’t believe in Jesus more than you believe in Jesus’ words. If His words are of diminished reliability even to a very small degree, then Jesus Himself is of diminished reliability to the exact same degree. You can’t have a person’s words being less—or more—reliable than he is. His words are the very expression of his reliability, and consequently he and his words are believed with the same degree of firmness and passionateness.

    I really would much rather be with Jesus himself than reading the Bible, and I don’t think that’s an absurd claim for an orthodox Christian to make.

    Really not sure where this one came from or where you’re trying to go with it. Who is suggesting that this is an absurd claim? Your statement is quite a bit different from the original statement. No Christian would disagree that being with Jesus is better than being apart from Jesus and having His Word.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, but I’m afraid I’m still not ready to adopt this kind of two-tiered talk about Jesus and the Scriptures. Faith in Jesus as the goal of the Scriptures? Absolutely. But I embrace and believe in the Triune God and what He has revealed about Himself with identical firmness and passionateness.

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