This article is from guest blogger Brian Alex, a close friend of mine. He and his family are missionaries, currently in Estonia (web site). Enjoy!
I recently asked a friend of mine what they have been reading lately, hoping to whet my appetite for some good material. Their response left me dumbfounded for moment:
“The Bible is all I need, since hearing too much from others only tends to leave me more confused than when I limit my influence to only the Bible.”
I doubt that I will ever share my argument with them, but it is a proverbial burr under my theological saddle. I think there is something missing in the life of a believer who closes their ears to every other sound but their reading of the Bible.
To read the New Testament is to find a collection of eye-witness accounts and special revelation propagated to the masses mainly through messengers carrying letters to be read aloud. But it didn’t stop there. The letters were then considered at-large by communal groups of Christ-followers. Thus, it stands to reason that we too must take the point of view that God will choose to reveal Himself to us via that same circuit. Namely,
1. The Scriptures
2. Personal Revelation
3. Communal Interpretation
To refrain from the necessary involvement of a community would subject the learner to a limited view of Christ, life and the world that he or she lives in. By excluding the communal checks-and-balances they would be in danger of erring from the very Scriptures that he or she may claim have exclusive authority in their lives.
Rather, we can stand with confidence knowing that God has led us into select communal-social constructs that will help us tend towards truth. Surrounding ourselves with a community of imperfect Bible-interpreting believers will challenge and refine our own conceptions, keeping us from blatant deceptions.
God has placed us in covenental community in order to see the Bible clearly and to know in Whom we have believed. In essence, if we are to hear God’s voice, we must involve those who have labored in the Word before us and with us, as they lend us their spiritual heritage.
The Bible isn’t all we need, simply because the Bible is not just about words. It is about real people and real lives, learning to live out the truth… together.