It is a sign of desperation: Those who indefensibly deny the plenary authority of scripture as the written Word of God inevitably proclaim – when all their other arguments fail – that you are making the Bible your god or elevating the Bible to the level of divinity.
Lately, I’ve been hearing this more and more from those who believe their personal narrative and perceptions about Jesus are more authoritative and higher revelation than His written Word.
They proclaim “Christ is All”, but their “all” ignores much of who Christ has revealed Himself to be in scripture. (See The Problem with “All”.)
I do not worship scripture or elevate scripture to the “level of divinity”. I do elevate it to the level of divine authority, because it is the external Word of God Himself – and thus supersedes all subjective claims of personal or private revelation.
The external, written Word of the King carries the authority of the King. Your narrative about the King or claims about your perception of the King do not.
A Fractured Jesus
When scripture becomes secondary to someone’s overarching narrative or personal perception of the King, under the guise that our existential experience of the Person of the King is the only relevant and authoritative revelation we need, then we fall into inevitable error.
In essence, they divorce the Person of the King (His relational attributes) from everything else that He has chosen to reveal through His external written Word – and end up with a fractured Jesus.
The external Word of the King certainly reveals much about the Person of King, but it also authoritatively reveals other aspects of the King – including the things the existentialists want to de-emphasize, like His commands, His objectives, His law, His moral precepts, and the like.
They want to emphasize the existential, relational aspects of Jesus, but de-emphasize or outright reject the propositional (truth and external standards) aspects of Jesus.
You see, I agree that all scripture points to Jesus. I just disagree that Jesus is only existential.
The Fulness of Christ
To be clear, Jesus relates to us existentially – in other words, relationally and subjectively. I thrill at the ongoing, subjective presence of God in my life. But He is so much more!
I existentially relate to the Person of the King, and also to all that has He has externally revealed about Himself, His creation, His commands, His morality, His rule, and His Kingdom.
Because I want all of Jesus, I submit my vitally important experience and relationship with Him to the external standards He chose to reveal in His written Word. (This is known as the plenary authority of scripture.)
Those who say it is only about the Person of Jesus, without embracing all the rest of Him, do a great disservice to the Body of Christ. That is why they dismiss the plenary authority of scripture – they want to create an existential narrative that imposes their own image of Christ on the rest of us.
In doing so, they create a new legalism and often become dismissive of all who do not conform to the Jesus they’ve created in their own image. And so they say they are “beyond” the rest of the Body of Christ, and other such nonsense.
They also say that embracing other aspects of who Jesus is and what He commands is a “distraction” from the Person of Christ – thus trying to foist their fractured Jesus on the rest of us. (See Beyond Evangelical, Part 3.)
Without the plenary authority of scripture, we are left with extreme existentialism. Christ becomes whatever and whomever you want Him to be, as you, your subjectivity, and your own perceptions come the supreme authority.
The result is always – always – an anemic, insular “faith” and anemic, insular fellowships.
Let’s affirm the freedom to know and enjoy the fulness of Christ, both existentially and as He has chosen to authoritatively and externally reveal Himself to be – including His commands, His moral precepts, His sovereign rule, and His resolute objectives which are bigger than just you and your subjective sensibilities and perceptions of Him.
Let’s embrace the multifaceted, mult-gifted Body of Christ which Jesus reveals in scripture.
Anything less is death.
I know that offends some, but an existential theology which promotes a fractured Jesus is a danger to the Body of Christ.
Stop the Whining
If you really think “Christ” (as you perceive Him) can be severed from His written Word, that scripture is not the written Word of God, or that it has no plenary authority over your existential narrative about the Person of Christ, then stand your ground and defend yourselves.
Otherwise, stop the whining, the cries of “persecution” and “division”, the protests that such views must be valid because those who promote them are charming and were nice to you, the claims that you have a “high view” of scripture while dismissing its plenary authority, and other disingenuous arguments that seek to deflect folks from your core theology and its disastrous consequences. (See Organic Dead Ends.)
Let me repeat that: Stop the whining. Stop the cries of “persecution” and “division”. Stop the disingenuous arguments that seek to deflect folks from your true beliefs.
In other words, own your stuff. If you wrote or endorsed it, you own it – pure and simple. And please, please, stop denying the clear meaning of your words to now back pedal when challenged. If you didn’t mean it, openly and publicly retract it.
Otherwise, face up the fact that it is proper for others to dare question you, to hold you accountable to Biblical standards, and to expose the disastrous “fruit” your existentialism has produced among God’s precious people and our surrounding culture.
This is a needed debate. Now is the time to have it.