AnnieKO'Connor


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The Bible Is Not the Word of God

“The Bible is the word of God.”

We hear this all the time. We don’t even think about it.

The statement is used to convince us if we have any disagreement, problems, confusion or negative feelings about the Bible, we are having those reactions against God. It is used to point out that God cannot tell a lie, and so there are no contradictions in the Bible, that creation is a literal six days, that homosexual sex is an abomination.

But there is a major problem with believing the Bible is the word of God. That problem lies in what the Bible itself has to say about the word of God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, andthe Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

— John 1:1–4

The familiar passage is John’s introduction to Jesus, and is one of the main passages used in defending the doctrine of Jesus’ Godhood.

When we hear people referring to the Bible, listen carefully. Ask, are they giving the Bible the place of Jesus? If we are to take the Bible seriously, we must recognize its acknowledgment of Jesus as the word of God, and its commands never to worship idols. Once we worship the Bible as a way of worshipping God, we are idolaters. The tradition of regarding the Bible as the word of God is so deeply tied to contemporary Christianity, we often fail to see the conflation between it and Jesus. This must be rectified.

Jesus is God. The Bible is not.

Jesus was with God in the beginning, before the creation of the universe. The Bible has only ever existed within the universe, within time.

The world was created through Jesus. The Bible had no participation in creation.

Jesus died on the cross. The Bible did not.

We are saved through of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This would be true even if the Bible had never been written. The Bible has done nothing of the work of our salvation.

Jesus is rightly worshipped. The Bible should never be worshipped.


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The Cross and The Crucifix

Protestant churches display the Cross. Unlike the Crucifix, Jesus is not on the cross, because he was removed, buried and risen. It is an image of our hope and our forgiveness.

But I wish we could spend more time pondering the Crucifix. The gospel is good news, but it is also dark and horrifying. It is gruesome. Like much of life.

When we mourn, often we are encouraged that there is some greater good to the event that caused our mourning. God has a purpose. A good purpose. Like the resurrection made Christ’s death good.

But to those who are mourning, and to the memory of Christ’s sacrifice, this seems a flimsy attempt to diminish the pain. We should not forget to mourn when we view the cross. When we think of Christ’s death. When we take communion. These things are dark.

Jesus on the cross yelling “My God, why have you forsaken me?” is not at all softened by his resurrection.

The gospel does not simply offer good news. It offers it after despair.

And like Christ’s resurrection to life from death, hope can arise from despair. It come like light from darkness and void, like God creating the world ex nihilo.

Let there be light.

Let there be life.

Let there be hope.

Not because it was there in darkness, death or despair all along, but because this is how God creates. Out of nothing.

But sometimes, too, let there be nothing.


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Finding my other half

This post is part of Mutuality Week 2012, hosted by Rachel Held Evans.

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When I was at university, I longed to find a husband. I wanted the Christian ideal: marry out of college, have children, submit to my husband and receive God’s blessings for my obedience. I believed men and women have different roles: I wanted to submit to a godly man and have him be my leader.

There were two problems with this plan: I am not social, and I’m extremely bookish. Even if I hadn’t been juggling a stuffed schedule of credit overloaded semesters to complete both degrees in four years while working to pay for it, I wouldn’t have dated much because I am introverted and awkward. I hoped God would wash someone up on the shore of my life. It seemed to happen that way for my friends, and maybe it did, but it didn’t happen that way for me.

Like a lot the women graduating from my Christian university, I got two bachelor’s out of college, but neither of mine were men. (I know, you guys, I know. I just couldn’t help myself.)

Somewhere in the post-graduation shuffle, my world was flipped inside out. My two closest friends got married and moved to California. I got a job in a different city in my own state. These are only the highlights: several other events occurred in my life around that time and I found myself living a life I had not intended.

I had to learn to care for myself, something I never expected to do alone.

In my household, I am the breadwinner. I work outside the home. I am my spiritual leader. I decide what church to attend and how often. I do all the praying, all the learning, all the Bible study, all the theology. I am the leader.

This life shattered my understanding of gender roles. Complementarianism only works when there is more than one person. It requires the other to complement. But in my life there is no other, so how can I partake in a complementary role?

What I learned, though, and continue to learn, is that I do not need someone to complement me, to fill a role, to lead me, to teach me. I can be fierce and vulnerable. I can be curious and compassionate and knowledgeable. I can teach my friends and peers and coheirs with Christ, and they can teach me so many more things.

I finally found my other half, deep in my soul where I had feared to look.

What I take from the Genesis account of Adam and Eve is not that God wants me to submit to a man, but that God wants us to have full and wonderful lives in a paradise where we are not alone. That kingdom is already here and is coming. And I am an image bearer of its King, a compassionate man who submitted to his father and conquered evil through silence and death.

The main problem with complementarianism is when we look at Christ, we see that submission and leadership are identical. If men are called by the example of Christ to lead, then they will lead by serving and submitting; if women are called to submit, they are called to be Christ to the world, to lead God’s children home.

I am not an egalitarian because complementarianism is wrong, but because the roles complementarianism claims are different are not different roles. They are identical. They are not only equal, as the complementarian points out, but they are the same.