"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." -Martin Luther

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Why the Bible is Not #1

I'm having two thoughts.
My first thought is that the Bible shouldn't be on my favorite books list. No, I do like it, actually. A lot. I probably read it more than anything but my Calculus book (I suppose that rules out using reading-time to determine what books I like : ) ). My concern is for reverance. Of course it's a great book! It's the Word of God!! In fact, it's so good that putting it on my favorite books list seems a little like putting Gilbert and Sullivan at the same level as, as NSync. Isn't that a little disrespectful? If you have the integers one through ten, and infinity, and put them in order from least to greatest, do you simply put infinity the same distance from ten as you put ten from nine? Is that really accurate?
My second thought is more of a counter-thought. Shouldn't the Bible always be there? Shouldn't it be the book I like and enjoy most of all?
So, instead of putting it on top of the list, or not on the list at all, I put it somewhere near the bottom. Joben has lost his mind.
I suppose so, but this may not be the appropriate example of my insanity.
You see, this is a favorite books list. I haven't taken it to be a of books I learned the most from, found to be the most spiritually enlightening, correct, inspired, or holy!
The list, it seems to me, is for books I enjoy reading, was entertained by, and found to be of good quality both in style (good medium) and content (good message). The Bible has the best message ever. The medium, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is also the best ever. The style, for a large part, however, is not, shall we say, inspired! Some of the human writers of the bible were not quite masters of the written word. Others were. The Bible is a lot history and record, sometimes giving specs and materials and building techniques for buildings. Some of that is boring to me, other parts of it give me chills. It also has a lot of poetry, prophecy, and address. Weighed out, all in all, I enjoy the Bible a lot...so it's on my favorites list.
But that doesn't seem sufficient -- especially if I don't put it at the top. I need to explain. I just have. The Bible is the Word of God, containing Salvation through the Gospel -- good news -- of the Son of God becoming man and dying for the men who rebelled against their maker. All who believe on Him and His sacrifice to atone for their sins will be saved. What glorious truths! What a story, the true story, that all others can only imitate or pervert! What condescension on the part of God to bring us word of these things! To do these things! Is the inspired word of God not the only perfect thing in this universe? Even Creation is changed and twisted and cursed -- our foe, not our friend. The word speaks Hell to the unbeliever, but only to warn, and to show the way of escape, the way to Heaven! On a list of most important, best, or true-est books, I would always put the Bible first and others far behind.
But that's not how I treated the favorites list; so, the Bible isn't at the top.
Of course, maybe it should be my favorite -- my most enjoyable read. If we characterize books, it is certainly a closer friend and companion to me than any other book, and I put a lot more trust in it than any other book, by the merit of it's divine inspiration (God-spoken-ness) and illumination (God-lit-up-ed-ness). I am not so concerned about not being more entertained by other books than the Bible. The Truth isn't neccessarily so entertaining as it is riveting. Perhaps I should treat it a little more expectantly, as if everything I said about its inspiration were true (imagine that...).
So, I shall strive to love my Lord and Saviour and His book more. Would it not be good to be taught by God to love Scripture above all other books and past-times, to read and sing it's message like food and drink? In the meanwhile, I have honestly ranked it, and written a lengthy explanation for why.
[It took me about five minutes to realize I had not given justice to the Bible in this post, so this is the new and improved version, which is, sadly, still errant and uninspired.]


  1. I can honestly say that this is my first encounter with the word 'God-lit-up-ed-ness', and I might be confused had the definition not been given already.
    So really, what are your favorite books?

  2. The horizon-broadening is too much to contain, I have to share it.
    Look at my favorite books list!

  3. Oh. *cough* That favorite books list. I guess all that time spent not reading profiles has finally caught up with me. ^^;;

  4. I should make some comment about the informative quality of your profile, but one should not mock humility.
    Does the '^^;;' symbol mean you have two left ears, or am I misinterpreting? *smirk*

  5. I think, Joben, that the emoticon represents a cat with two tails.
    I beleive that you've hit on an important point, though I'm not sure what it is. Doesn't this mean that the bible wouldn't find itself on your list at all, since the difference between the number 1 spot and the number 2 spot is the same as the difference between the number 1 and 9, or the difference between 9 and 10? Since it's infinity that we're talking about, it's makes as much sense to talk about infinity being close to 1 as to talk about infinity being close to 9, or 10. There's still an infinite difference, since the concept of infinity is less quantitative and more qualitative?

    (My cat has only one tail)


  6. Okay, there's a debate about what "^^;;" means.... Y'all so need to watch more anime *grins*

    I agree, it's hard to limit the Bible to just "favorite book of all time". But if you put "The Works of Martin Luther" on a favorite books list, I think everyone would get the drift. ...or, a lot of people at Covenant, at least. :) Presbys heart the Luther-man.

  7. What I was trying to say, Ben, was that if I treated the list as a representation of how good the books were, measuring by all aspects, putting more weight on usefulness than entertainment (as it should be) then the Bible would be so much better (having ten be my example was a poor choice) than anything else that it would seem almost disrespectful.
    However, I have treated the list as a favorites list -- what I enjoy the most in a leisurely sense. The Bible belongs on that list, as I do enjoy reading it more than most other books.
    However, I felt it necessary to note that I did not consider the Bible to be just another book.
    In addition, I feel, more strongly now than I did before, that it would be a very good thing if my enjoyment of the Bible increased so much that it became #1 on my favorites list.
    I have incorporated your comment into my header.

  8. Wow guys. This is deep. I think I'll stick to commenting on the ^^;;
    Except I have no idea what it means. Caroline and Elizabeth, do tell!

  9. I know something about computer slang Annie doesn't?

  10. ...And something that I don't know either... Would some kind soul like to explain this???

  11. I'm actually with you, Joben. I was enjoying interjecting some psuedo-scientific reasoning into a philosophical/metaphysical argument.
    Sometimes it muddies the water, and that makes for fun conversation. :-)
    This is a good blog, btw.

  12. Oh! the *header!* I like it. :-)

  13. Actaully, Ben, I agree with myself too. Sometimes it's just hard to make sure I'm saying the same thing as my self is.
    Yeah, infinity is perhaps my favorite brain leisure topic. It has so many wonderful applications!

  14. Yes, yes, infinity is interesting, the header's great, I'm gald you agree with yourselves, but would someone please explain that thing that I don't understand?

  15. Yes, but your vocabulary seems to have shrunk.

  16. Vocabulary a mysterious thing. It seems to go on vacation at the same time a student does. And yet, the very same students are often able to quote back anything from The Princess Bride to Monty Python's "Dead Parrot Sketch".

    Claire, the "^^;" is a little anime face... thing... sweatdropping. No, I cannot explain what a sweatdrop is, as it's kind of a visual gag. Image search "Anime sweatdrop" on Google and see what comes up. :)

  17. Pulic service announcement:

    For more information on anime sweatdrops visit:


  18. And Mr. Cauble saves the day.
    I am no longer confused.
    But there still may be a sweatdrop on my face.

  19. I tried to explain it to poor Joben once. I guess it didn't work.

  20. I haven't reviewed that pictionary lately; I should go review it before I leave.

  21. I gave a rather incomplete definition, to be fair (small words so you'd be sure to understand? Unlikely) but I thought it was at least enough to get the *basic* idea of a sweatdrop across. Or at least enough to keep you from asking if I had two left ears.

  22. Actually, I asked that in some misguided effort to exhibit a sense of humor! Just like when ~.^ elicits an interrogative about eyelashes in your eye.

  23. Matthew Baddorf9:44 PM, June 25, 2007

    This little essay is an example of why you're so cool, Joben. Few apply this depth of thought and philosophcal reasoning to favorite books lists. Oh, and I woudn't worry about demeaning the Good Book by its inclusion-if God was willing to communicate through a book, than I'm sure He dosn't mind haveing it as #1 on a 'most-useful' list. Besides, no one ever said that there had to be the same distance between no. 1 and no. 2 as between no. 2 and no. 3.

  24. I expect you are correct, Mr. Baddorf. However, by this lengthy explanation, I have left room for there to be no confusion.
    No confusion at all.

  25. i believe the bible is just a way for people to teach other people how to act and how to behave. While this doesnt mean its a bad thing, most kids dont pay attention in church so they dont get the point.

  26. I believe the bible is a way for people to teach other people how to act and how to behave. But I do not believe it is just, or primarily, that.
    I'm glad you commented; more specifically that you happened to comment at a time when I've been given cause to stop and consider just exactly what I think the Bible is.
    I have a few thoughts, certainly not comprehensive:
    -If the Bible is just a teaching tool for how to act, who's to say whether it is right or not? It would carry authority only for those who already agreed with the writers.
    -The Bible claims to come from God (though through human writers). See II Timothy 3:16 http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=2+Timothy+3
    Jesus and others in the New Testament consistently treat the Old Testament as more than just men's writings on how we ought to act.
    These and other evidences add up to the conclusion that the Bible claims to be the Word of God.
    -If the Bible is just writings on how we ought act, then some of the writers broke their own rules by lying about the nature of what they and others wrote.
    -But perhaps the best "proof" of the Bible's nature as God's revelation to us would be for you to meet the Author. Speaking in a spiritual sense, I have. Obviously, this is experiential and subjective evidence. But I ~am~ convinced.
    Thanks again for the post; I'd love to hear more of what you think.


A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.