On Loving God’s Word

The faithful pastor, and all other faithful believers, love to learn God’s Word because they love the God of the Word.”  –John MacArthur

There is simply no substitute for a steady diet of the Word of God.  Moreover, the God of the Word has designed it such that we feed on the Word in community.

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4 Responses to On Loving God’s Word

  1. Simon says:

    TC, just wondering what your thoughts are on the modern use of the term “Word of God”, particularly in the evangelical world. This term is often taken to mean “the Bible” by evangelicals, as evidenced by McArthur’s comment above. However, having just read through Athanasius’ book, On the Incarnation (of the Word), it is clear that the primary meaning of the phrase “Word of God” is Jesus Christ himself (following John 1… the Word become flesh).

    Loving the Bible, like McArthur says above, can kind of become an idolatry in my opinion. The Bible contains words that point to an incomprehensible reality – the living Triune God. To confine Him to a book is kind of putting limitations on God. This is why, in evangelicalism, we have those congregations that are dry, doctrinal and purely based on rational deductions from Scripture, and other denominations that are more spontaneous, less doctrinal, who use the text primarily in relation to their personal experience – I think largely in reaction to the former dry, rational Christians. The Early Church put doctrine and spirituality together. There was never a distinction between the two like there is in modern evagelicalism. Look at the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom practised in the Eastern Orthodox Church. For those who like lively worship, look at the Ethiopian Orthodox Liturgy. In each of these Churches, doctrine and spirituality go together. In Protestantism, where the pulpit has replaced the alter, much spirituality has been lost. They have forgotten how to use the Bible as it was intended (i.e. actually singing/chanting the Psalms) and reduced it to a rational, legal text. The Creeds are sung, not just recited, a symbol that the doctrines of the Church are in the heart, not just the mind. Loving the Word of God, primarily means loving Jesus – not the text itself. This is why I say that excessive Bible-love can lead to a kind of idolatry. This Bibliolatry is displayed in such statements as the Chicago Statement on Biblical inerrancy – i.e. putting modern scientific burdens on Scripture that it was never written to bear. This is idolatry in my opinion. The Early Church was able to hold the apparent contradictions in tension, and gave far more credence to mystery – the fact that we can’t explain everything in Scripture. Conservative evangelicals place ridiculous burdens on Scripture. Liberals don’t take Scripture seriously. Both groups are children of the Enlightenment, thinking that the world, including Scripture, can be disenfranchised (or demystified) through modern critical methods.

    • TC says:

      Simon, to be fair to MacArthur, love for God remains primary. But I understand bibliolatry of which you speak. It’s unfortunate. As you rightly point out in your comment, the key is finding that balance between doctrine and spirituality.

      I particularly love the following from your comment:

      The Early Church was able to hold the apparent contradictions in tension, and gave far more credence to mystery – the fact that we can’t explain everything in Scripture.

      Yes, we must do a better job of overcoming the god of science.

      • Simon says:

        I find McArthur to be a very odd character… sometimes he’s outright beligerent and hateful towards his opponents in my opinion.

        But here’s a guy who has basically started up an Reformed megachurch, that is not in communion with any other Christian denomination. Reformed, yet practising adult/believer baptism. Reformed, yet dispensational in eschatology. If you ask me, this guy is making up Church as he goes along. Which higher authority judges his doctrinal positions and interpretations of Scripture? The answer, of course, is he is his own authority – and that should be a scary prospect for any of his church members. His Church would not be recognized by any Christian, at any time during first few centuries, either in doctrine or practise, and particularly in ecclesiology. Yet he somehow assumes the role of doctrinal policeman against other Reformed, evangelicals in general and Christendom in general. His church is neither traditional nor conservative (at least when it comes to the Creeds and theology. He seems to be politically conservative, which is a different thing). How is it that he can command such respect? He runs around with buffoons like the guys from Wretched Radio. Phil Johnson is not much better. (Forgive my harshness, but Johnny Mac can be pretty harsh too, sometimes you’ve got to play hardball with these guys). My only answer is that this is an American phenomenon – the distortion of Christianity that evangelicalism has wrought on the Church. A good blog post comes from Father Stephen Freeman on American Christianity. I heartily recommend his blog.

        http://glory2godforallthings.com/2013/02/11/america-and-the-perversion-of-christianity/

  2. TC says:

    Simon, I understand where you’re coming from but terms do evolve. For example, Reformed theologian Michael Horton in his new The Christian Faith refers to Baptists as Reformed as well. You will have to be saying the same of him as well. Then again, being “Reformed” has become something of a buzzword these days.

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