The other day, I began writing some of my musings concerning the authority of scripture, namely that it does not stem from its inerrancy or infallibility, but from the inspiration of God. Today, I’m going to explore the language that we use when we say the Bible is the ‘Word of God’. This phrase may not even cause a Christian to blink because it has become so indoctrinated into them. But as one reads the Bible, when the terminology ‘Word of God’ is employed, it is not referring to the Bible as we know it, or even to Hebrew Scriptures. This may seem like common sense, but the ‘Word of God’ according to the Bible is actually the words that God speaks whether directly to somebody or through somebody such as a prophet. So if we look at what the Bible is trying to get at with this phrase and if we are attempting to be biblical, then we must take the Bible’s definition of the ‘Word of God’ somewhat seriously, and not just throw in the Bible that we currently use in order to justify our actions or beliefs. Thus, in the Bible itself, not everything is the ‘Word of God’ for anybody who has read it of any length knows that there are many words written by Paul, there are spoken words of David, of Pharoah, of Noah, and of many others. If anything, the Bible seems to be a sort of history book, filled with the stories of the faith, important documents for people of the faith, and letters to encourage and rebuke churches. But not all of it is spoken by God. Therefore, the Bible is not the ‘word of God’ if we use the biblical means of defining the ‘word of God’.
We must also look at another way the Bible speaks of the ‘word of God’. We don’t have to look any further than the book of John, and an oft-quoted piece of Scripture:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:1-5; 14]
Reading this, the ‘Word of God’ is Jesus Christ our Lord, not the Bible. This makes a huge difference if we are trying to live according to the ‘Word of God’. Thus, I think it is important to distinguish our talk of the two by saying the ‘Word of God’ refers to Jesus and the ‘word of God’ to the common use of our reference to the Bible. When we say we are trying to live according the Word, do we mean the ‘Word of God’ or the ‘word of God’? And does it make that much of a difference? Are the two interchangable?
I think it is very clear from the Bible itself that the Bible is not the ‘Word of God’. The ‘Word of God’ is Christ or the spoken words of God, not just words inspired by God.