How Big is Your God?

My God is bigger than the Bible.

I can't decide if this sounds defiant, radical, or incredibly lukewarm. I'm not sure if I'm saying something new or stating the obvious.

Here's why I think it matters.

For starters, it keeps me from ever unintentionally making an idol out of the Bible. If nothing else, the above statement protects me from putting my faith in a book rather than in the creator, savior, and sustainer to whom that book points.

A far more important point is closely related to the first. To remember that God is bigger than the Bible is to remember that God is still active in the world. If I believe that God acts here and now, that God hears prayers, that God has a hand in the future of the world - then I must rely not only on the Biblical witness, but also to the entire cloud of witnesses throughout history and in the present. And not only the witness of others, but my own experience. I have experienced God in my life, both within the Biblical text and outside of it. This is why I feel so strongly that we are limiting the infinite nature of God if we try to limit God and God's actions to only what is explicitly laid out in the Biblical text.

My own opinions about the limitations of the doctrines of Biblical inerrancy and Biblical literalism stem from my concern that these modes of interacting with the text implicitly limit the power of God in our world. The tendency toward having a high reverence for the text itself, rather than for the one to whom the text is pointing, can lead to the belief that the whole of God's intentions are contained in a couple thousand pages of written text. These doctrines champion divine inspiration of the text in such a way that it is difficult to speak of the Biblical witness as dynamic rather than static. At their worst, these more literal hermeneutics of inspiration can fail to draw a distinction between narrative and prescription, flattening the nuances of varying genres into a "one-size-fits-all" approach that sees the Biblical narrative as wholly directive.

If we flatten the Bible in this way, then we fail to separate law and gospel - we fail to make a distinction between human effort and divine grace. We also run the risk of believing that the task of Biblical interpretation is more important than the work of God in Christ.

But as for me, I see the Bible as a witness to the living Word of God in Christ. It is a narrative of God's ongoing interaction with God's people. It is a testament to God's work in, through, and for the sake of the world. I need a God who is active. I need a God who can hear prayers, who can enact change in the world, who can be present in our life on this earth. I need a God who is not limited to one book's worth of witness. I need a God who is not bound to nor contained within nor constrained by the Bible. I need a God who is bigger than the Bible.

How about you?

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