This week I got the privilege of joining the MennoNerds vlogging relay race, where Anabaptist nerds like myself share stuff in YouTube videos. Last week, Steve Kymes talked about some of his favourite books, and so I continued with talking about the Book of Books, the Holy Bible. In the video, I present three points that I think are important when reading and interpreting the Bible, and I want to explain these in a bit more detailed manner here:
1. The Bible is a Prophetic Book
The single reason why Christian and Jews view the Biblical Scriptures as holy and divinely inspired, is because we believe that they are prophetically written. Prophecy simply means that God communicates to a human being, and that’s really what Paul is talking about when he says that the Scriptures are inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16).
Why is this important? Well, it’s a very good reason to why we today should “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” (1 Cor 14:1). When we understand prophecy we can better understand the Bible. Being a charismatic simply makes you a better Bible reader, in my opinion.
2. Jesus is the Main Character
Martin Luther said that Jesus is the Bible’s “Kern und Stern”, centre and star, although he didn’t really succeed in keeping it that way but rather ignored some of Jesus’ commands like loving enemies, healing the sick and so on. Anabaptists and other restorationist Christians, however, are better at following this principle which was dominant in the early church as well: both the Old and New Testament should be read with our eyes fixed on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebr 12:2).
This means that we shouldn’t have a “flat” reading of the Bible, where a verse from Leviticus has the same relevance and authority as a verse from the Sermon on the Mount. We need to read all of the Bible to understand God’s story, but Jesus is, as God incarnate, the main authority. And main character as well, He’s the star of the show.
3. The Bible is an Authority
What signifies restorationist Christians (or Apostolic Christians as some call us, I prefer that since it sounds cooler) is that not only do we have the life and teachings of Jesus in the centre, but we also recognize this life and teaching as extremely important, as a revelation of God’s will. This is why the Bible is so precious to me, it tells me about who God is. I’ve experienced God personally through miracles and prophetic visions, but the Bible has authority simply because the message that these miracles confirmed is written in there.
This is why, in debates about how Christians should live or believe, claiming that “the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense” as a famous preacher did a while ago, is an invalid argument to me. If the Bible has no authority there’s no reason to be a Christian in the first place. But I’ve encountered Jesus, I’ve experienced His power and love and that’s why I want to find the best sources about Him in order to follow His Way. I find those in the Bible.
Also check out my fellow MennoNerd April Yamasaki’s post How to Read the Bible and Love It, as well as Deborah-Ruth Ferber’s response to my video:
I agree. And I would add a fourth cornerstone of Bible reading: There is a particular historical context behind those lines, which must be “excavated” and properly understood. As far as I understand, restorationism is about restoring. Let us restore not only that power of charismatic preaching in authority of the Word, but also it’s proper meaning given by it’s former hearers and authors.
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