Genyce: “Dad, can you help me with this? I have a question that is personal and really important to me right now. I have so few who will even engage on this level with me. I would appreciate your thoughtful response.

I’m really just asking one question…I just didn’t know how to ask it so I tried a couple of different ways. (I have taken into consideration components of reason, experience, and church tradition; my question is actually aside from that.)

Does the cannon of scripture fully represent the character and nature of God? Is it comprehensive enough to provide for us a “way” to walk and picture of Who we are to walk with?”

Gene: I’m honored Sweetie that you would entrust your heart to me. Let me break this down. OK? I am going to restate your questions below (as best I understand them) in italics……

              Does the cannon of scripture fully represent the character and nature of God?

The scriptures are to be very highly esteemed. Jesus said that He came to fulfill them; that every jot and tittle would be fulfilled. He held a high view of the O.T. scriptures. Paul taught that they were inspired and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Peter stated that the prophets of old actually spoke by the Spirit of Christ within them.  All that to say, the Scriptures are absolutely sufficient for what they are intended, and one goes contrary to them at great peril. Having said that, I must also say that the Scriptures are not a comprehensive revelation of God. No language, be it Hebrew, Greek or English can contain concepts that are higher above us than the heavens are above the earth: they are even called “inscrutable” in the O.T.  A time will come when we will know as we are now known. That very idea compels us to admit that there are many thing which we do not now know, but it also compels us to admit (since it defers complete knowledge) that we now know enough… all that we truly need for faith.  (Speaking of faith, it is axiomatic that faith only really exists in the realm of the unprovable. The Scriptures, combined with our experience of Him, are a sufficient basis for faith, but faith does not answer inscrutable questions.)

                    Is it (the Bible) comprehensive enough to provide for us a “way” to walk?

Yes, but not in the way that many think. Too often the Scriptures are approached like a “how to” book, a biography, a perfectly coherent book of philosophy, of a collection of propositions (truisms) to be accessed in pregnant moments.  But, in fact, when we talk about “walking,” we are led by the Scriptures to a far more dynamic idea: the Christ Life within us who leads us. Remember the words: “For as many as are led by the spirit, they are the sons of God.”  This is simultaneously the most liberating and the most dangerous idea in the whole of the New Testament.  For on the one hand, it speaks of an integration of our life with His in such a way that much like the folks in NT time, who had nothing of the NT, we find a way to walk that glorifies Him and delivers us from evil. It also takes us away from a kind of life where we try to proof-text everything we feel and believe. That puts us in dangerous territory because as you know, we can feel some pretty wild thing!  The NT antidote for this danger is community (I actually prefer The Integrated Body of Christ. We are, after all, “members one of another.”)

Essentially, He is more interested in a relationship with us than in us having a complete grasp of either His ways or His actions, or His expectations.  (You may recall the “vision” I had back when you were a child and we still had a paneled den at our house. I was sitting in a chair over by the door to the kitchen and you came through the door from what was the living room, into the den. When I saw you, a longing arose in my heart for you to come and sit in my lap and for me to be able to put my arms around you and love on you. You approached me, but sitting on the end table just next to me was a biography of my life. You went, picked it up, began to read and thoroughly enjoyed what you were discovering. But the longing in my heart went unsatisfied. The “vision” ended.) All that to say, the Scriptures provide us a “way to walk,” but their real aim is an invitation to us to walk into the arms and lap of Jesus and our great Father whom He revealed, to love Him and be loved by Him.

Are the Scriptures comprehensive enough to provide for us …a picture of Who we are to walk with?

Yes and no. We see the full face of the Father in the face of Christ. He is a sufficient, if not an entirely comprehensive, revelation of Who it is that we are to walk with. It is Christ in us, but remember, Jesus himself said, that in that day, “we should not ask Him anything, but that we should ask the Father, because the Father Himself loves us because we have loved Jesus and have believed in Him.”  There are way too many questions which arise from the reading and studying of the Scriptures for us to approach them with the hope that we will get a complete picture/understanding of Who He is or what He is like. But that merely brings us full circle back to the question: are they sufficient to achieve a basis for faith, love and trust – to know Him with whom we walk? I say, yes they are, but they are a hallway through which we walk to meet Him, and no one lives in a hallway. At the same time, a view of Him that is discordant with the scriptural revelation of Him, is exceedingly dangerous and can only truly be characterized as a deception. It would be like looking at a photo of Chris (Genyce’s son) and believing it to be a photo of Paul (their other son).

Can He be more than what is revealed in the Old and New Testament? Is it legitimate to look for, even require, a biblical model as a guide for understanding the current Christian culture’s embrace of certain ideologies?

Can He be more than what is revealed in the Old and New Testament?

He is certainly more than the O.T. revelation.  Though I suspect when we see Him we will understand more clearly how the revelation of Him in the O.T. is harmonious with that of Him in the N.T. Is He more than the N.T. revelation of Him? A qualified “Yes.”  When we look at the twinkle of a star 100 million light years away, we will not find in the N.T. an explanation of how He did it. Our minds could not comprehend it even if the answer were staring us in the face. But, is there enough in the N.T (and O.T.) to convince us that He is the Creator? There, I say, yes. We are told in the N.T. that “we shall see Him as He is” when we see Him face to face. So, there is a lot more to Him than what we can now see. Our real problem comes when we try to fill in the gaps in our knowledge with imaginations, speculations, and vain philosophies. With those we almost always miss the mark and come up with something that does not mesh with reality or bear the fruits of peace and holiness.

One of the culprits that gets in the way of simple joyous faith that can come to us through the limited revelation of Him that we do have, is theological constructs. Historically, theologians have operated under a compulsion to make all the parts fit together like a puzzle. They trim the edges of some pieces and create other brand new pieces. They do this from the well-intended motive of protecting us from heresy and giving us the most complete picture of what “fills the gaps.”  So the short answer is, yes, He is more than what the text reveals. But do we need to know that “more?”  If we come to the greater knowledge of Him by means of peaceful revelation that is harmonious with what we can know from the Scriptures, then I think we are free to embrace it, at least tentatively subject to further revelation and scrutiny. [At every step, however, whether within the Scriptures or without, we must avoid the bottomless pit of religion and its false promise that if we dig just a little deeper, we will discover hidden, life-giving truth. We already possess Him – He is already our life. We are already complete in Him however much we may grow in the knowledge of Him.]

Is it legitimate to look for, even require, a biblical model as a guide for understanding the current Christian culture’s embrace of certain ideologies?

If I understand your question, it requires us to define “Christian culture” and to identify “ideologies.”  We are told in Revelation that there will be those saved from every tribe, tongue, people and nations. That being the case, what can we say is the unique Christian Culture – that is, the irreducible minimum which must be present within every social/political (national) culture to describe and identify a Christian. Put differently, what are the minimum characteristics of a Christian that one would find within a culture no matter where on the face of the earth he or she might be? As it turns out, there is a very limited number of universal characteristics which constitutes the “Christian Culture.”  The only reason I start my response there is because it is a fact that in almost every place, especially the USA, we have so integrated civil culture with what is the unique Christian Culture, that we seem to baptize a lot of civil/political culture as being Christian when really it is not. Without understanding that irreducible minimum, our starting place is generally that which my particular group considers the Christian norm.

All that to say, it is very difficult to find a pure biblical model for something that may be very American. Now, when we add the idea of ideologies (rather than theologies) we are really talking about something that is political/social. It has been my observation that those who search for a Biblical model to support an ideology, no matter how varied, can almost always find one.  For example, the Democrats find “caring for the poor” to be very Biblical, even taught by Christ. Republican, would find that those who don’t work shouldn’t eat; that only widows, orphans and those who do the work of ministry should be supported by gifts. [Years ago, Christian in South Carolina – tobacco country – thought drinking beer was sinful but had no problem with smoking. Christian in Milwaukee, Wisconsin saw no problem with drinking beer, but saw smoking as a sinful habit.]

When interrogating an ideology for whether it is supportable by Scripture, labels need to be ignored. It needs to be pulled apart into discrete propositions with each one subjected to the Scriptural light we do have. Perhaps, most importantly, the either/or conclusion which most ideologues insist on should be avoided in search of those discrete beliefs and actions that glorify Christ, edify His body, and extend His kingdom.  By and large, it is my observation that today’s “Christian culture” is tethered so far from home base that it is often unrecognizable from a Biblical perspective, and certainly unrecognizable from the perspective of the simple, uncomplicated God-pleasing life modeled and taught by Jesus.  Yes, by all means, try to anchor current Christian culture and political/social ideologies in the Scriptures but don’t be surprised if what your audience really wants is for you to sprinkle holy water on their beliefs and turn the Pantheon into a Church.

Am I wrong to want to need the components of what we believe today reflected in the scripture?

NO, NO, NO, YOU ARE NOT WRONG, but let me know when the tar and feathering ceremony is scheduled! I simply don’t know if the religious building blocks of what is, can be removed or rearranged without the edifice falling, and woe be to those who suggest that the status quo is missing the mark. Humbly try, and use the secret weapon: questions rather than statements!

Love you,


P.S.: You are free to completely ignore all my heresies!

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap