So... Prayer or scripture?
What if you had to give up one or the other? Do you need both anyway, or is one of them redundant? After all they both cover the same ground, don’t they? Does up-to-the minute prayer make Bible reading obsolete, or does God’s timeless written word make prayer unnecessary?
If the Bible is the word of God, handed down unchanged and unchanging, why keep going back to the author? Surely the Bible on its own is enough. And if we have to keep going back to the author in daily prayer, isn’t the Bible a bit like calling up a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated for two thousand years?
Early Christians never had the gospels to read, but they certainly met to pray. It’s unlikely that every single would received Christian received any of Paul’s letters, even if parchment scrolls could have been re-tweeted. So the New Testament at least is entirely dispensable, isn’t it? And without the New Testament, what’s the point of the Old to the Christian story?
If you were shipwrecked tomorrow on a desert island without the obligatory copies of The Bible and the entire works of William Shakespeare, would you cease to be a Christian? Would you cease to be in communion with God? It’s impossible to imagine that anyone would answer ‘yes’ to that any more than they’d claim you cease to be civilised in the absence of Shakespeare’s sonnets and the entire script of Hamlet.
So if we’re all agreed that not having a Bible at all can’t separate you from God, how does having not quite the right Bible make you something from misguided to downright heretical?
Maybe it’s time to dispense with reading the Bible altogether and simply trust to prayer. After all, if a Christian or anyone for than matter has been spoken to directly by God, surely that overrides anything in the Bible. Or are we saying that God stopped revealing anything new with the last verse of Revelation?
And the argument that you need prayer to understand the Bible doesn’t really stand up, does it? That just means the Bible’s a deliberately confusing book and no use to anyone who doesn’t already have a personal relationship with God. Wouldn’t that just completely devalue the tracts and Bibles given to non-believers?
I counted more than a dozen questions in there. What’s your answer?
Over to You
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- Does today’s prayer make the Bible yesterday’s news?
- Is the Bible merely a prayer-life substitute?
- Are we so unsure of our present relationship that we have to keep going back to the family photo-album for the reassuring image of the God of days gone by?
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February 21st, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison