Over the last week I have heard or read about many people who use the Bible to justify their beliefs, especially those when dealing with tough issues like homosexuality and the role of women in the Christian faith. It has led me to ask the question, If there was not a Bible, would there be Christianity? It would seem as if the answer to this questions is an obvious “yes”, however, when people talk about Christianity, what it means to be a Christian, or how individuals should respond to governing life in this world, the bible is used to support each person’s claim. And this use of the Bible leads to a never-ending debate about who is right or wrong. Now before I go any further, I must mention parenthetically that I subscribe to the bible for foundational and authoritative instruction as a Christian, yet I also acknowledge that the God of the bible is also an active God in the present, in real-time, dealing with real current issues.
With that being said, how and why is the bible being used to define what Christianity is when Christianity was founded on “oral tradition”? What does this mean? This means that before there were four Gospels, 13 letters, Epistles, and a Revelation, Christianity existed, functioned, and grew exponentially without a written canon (selection of writings deemed authoritative and sacred for teaching and instruction). Furthermore, the teachings and life of Christ were first presented to hearers of various nationalities, cultures, and ideologies in a spoken form, and were not to condemn them according to the law but to offer liberation in the Christ who came to kill the effect the law had over the world.
I hope that as we continue to grow in Christ, we will use the Word that has been passed down to us the same way Christ used the Hebrew Scriptures of his time. That is to bring liberation to the captives, to bring good tidings to the poor, and use the Scriptures to bring hope, peace, love, and unity.