Friday, May 30, 2014

The "Jesus Didn't Write a Book" Objection

Over the years, I've noticed a number of objections to accepting the Scriptures as an authority over the church. One of the oddest objections is "Jesus didn't write a book" (example from David Meyers). Against certain Muslims who think that Jesus wrote a book called "the Injeel," this might be an important objection. Against Christians, though, this is a very odd objection. Especially since Jesus and the Apostles were so reliant on the Old Testament Scriptures:
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

John 12:16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
Like the Old Testament, the New Testament is the Word of God - the Holy Spirit inspired it. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit according to the will of the Father. As it is written:
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Ephesians 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
So, specifically the book of Revelation was a revelation given by Jesus to John (that addresses Meyer's sub-objection that "we don't even know if he told his followers to write anything down, and often it seems they dont expect it to be scripture anyway"), and more generally what Paul taught was revealed to him by Jesus. But what about Scripture generally?
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
And not only is it inspired by God, but God is indeed the reason for Scripture's existence:
2 Peter 1:19-21
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
So, the Scriptures come according to in the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit and he speaks what Jesus spoke:
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Thus, the New Testament is the revelation of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, as it is written:
Hebrews 1:1-2
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
I'd love to write more, but hopefully this answers the objection thoroughly - Jesus in his humanity did not write a book, but he sent the Holy Spirit by whose inspiration his oral teachings were brought to remembrance and memorialized in Scripture:
Luke 1:1-4
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

John 20:30-31
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


michael said...
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michael said...

These simply put posts are powerful, TF!

I have been pondering for awhile now one verse that I'd like to mention and make a comment about my ponderings in light of this subject.

The verse:

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

The thing I've been pondering is the depth of the meaning of the word "inheritance" in that verse.

As we know, the land of Israel was the promised inheritance, given to the sons of Jacob by lot. Each of the eleven brothers were to give the Levites land for priestly functions inheriting those parcels of land within each of the larger land parcels. Manasseh's land parcel was split with one part on one side of the Jordan and one part on the other side. The Levites' "inheritance" was the Lord possessing them!

Now, in our day though, as the priesthood of Melchizedek, what is the inheritance we are given? Do we inherit land too? Is this land promised to Abraham's descendants now the Church's or is it only a type and shadow of something or someone?

I say yes, it's only a type and shadow of Christ. I say the inheritance now isn't land promised to the Church, rather, it's Christ Himself conjoined to His Bride, the Church. As the Levites were uniquely the possession of the Lord under the Law of Moses, so the Church, now, is uniquely the possession of Christ by virtue of being His Bride.

Paul wrote of the mystery being Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Paul also wrote about human marriage between one man and one woman as a mystery that is symbolic that points to Christ and His Church.

Paul used this Greek word in his writings and he is the only New Testament writer to use it: συνεζωοποίησεν συζωοποιέω syzōopoieō produce alive, begat or bear living young cause to live, make alive, give life spiritual power to arouse and invigorate restore to life give increase of life: thus of physical life
D.of the spirit, quickening as respects the spirit, endued with new and greater powers of life

III.metaph., of seeds quickened into life, i.e. germinating, springing up, growing

Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13 are the only places this Greek word is used in the New Testament.

Anonymous said...

Catholic here! This may not be necessary, but I want to clarify the line "Jesus never wrote a book". I have heard it before and took it as slightly tongue and cheek. The implication is that there are no verses where Jesus commands or implies that our authority on faith and morals would eventually rely solely on the interpretation of a book. Sure the writings of the apostles on the life and teachings of Jesus and the doings and writings of the apostles can later be realized (through the work of the Holy Spirit) to be the inspire word of God and (through the work of the Holy Spirit) men can be led to realize this and (through the work of the Holy Spirit) men can be lead to differentiate what writings are inspired and which are not. And obviously these writings will be a gift from God and "prepare us for every good work". But, in the scriptures, Jesus nor the apostles (or anyone else) never identifies scriptures as our sole rule of faith or that God's plan for transmitting His truth would be through a book alone. This is the point that's being made. Maybe you already knew this though!

2 Thess. does tell us that we are to hold to the traditions that are handed down to us from the apostles wether by word of mouth or written epistle. This says authority to me and that the question isn't what I can interpret from the Bible alone, but what did the apostles write (Bible), what did they mean, and what did they teach orally (Tradition, Church Fathers, etc..)

I love the Christian dialogue! Thank you for responding to the call of the Lord in you life Francis!