Christ and the Scriptures, Part II: Christology and Bibliology

biblecross41In my initial post on this subject, I took a step back from the answer, “The Bible tells me so” to “how do you know the Bible is the Word of God?” I hope to answer that question in this post. I also seek to expound on the relationship between Bibliology and Christology and how that relationship pertains to the Bible version debate.

We do not arrive at truth ourselves. No amount of intellect or scholarship can uncover the deep things of God. Truth must be revealed. It is revealed only by God. In order for a man, dead in his sins, to be awakened to truth, he must undergo a supernatural experience in which God quickens him to receive that truth. The prime thing to which he is awakened is the truth that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Only those with the Spirit of God can truly say Jesus is Lord (I Corinthians 12:3). If the basis of knowledge for embracing Christ is God Himself, then the basis of knowledge for learning about Christ must be God Himself.

Therefore, before issues of eschatology, before one understands the nature of the church, before one can engage in the Bible version debate, and even before one understands his role as a Christian, the regenerated one submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has done a work in his heart, and the Holy Spirit’s role is to testify of Christ (John 15:26). The Christian starts with Christ.

Christology: The Focus of All Doctrine

Giving the Great Commission, the Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to go make more disciples, baptize them, and then teach them everything that He has commanded them (Matthew 28:18-20). This is the essence of Christianity. Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the grave, and commanded His followers to preach the gospel and everything else He has taught them while He was on earth. And this is to be repeated until He comes back. So the Christian starts with Christ, and all Christian truth starts with Christ. Christ must be the basis of all other doctrine. This is what I mean when I use the term “Christocentric.”

Rather than espousing a theological system and then trying to make Christ fit the mold, I must realize the Jesus Christ must have preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:18), including doctrine. The relationship between Christology and Bibliology, then, should be as the relationship between Christology and all other doctrine. I was happy to see Dan Wallace say something similar:

“The center of all theology, of the entirety of the Christian faith, is Christ himself. The cross is the center of time: all before leads up to it; all after it is shaped by it. If Christ were not God in the flesh, he would not have been raised from the dead. And if he were not raised from the dead, none of us would have any hope. My theology grows out from Christ, is based on Christ, and focuses on Christ.” (Dan Wallace, “My Take on Inerrancy”)

We can’t start with our biblical constructs, which are subject to error due to presuppositions imposed on the text by tradition or other influences, including our own faulty minds. Otherwise we end up subjugating Christ to the Scriptures, whereas the scriptures should be subject to Christ.

An obvious rebuttal to that, however, would be, didn’t Christ subject Himself to scripture? I certainly agree that Christ came not to destroy, but fulfill the law. I know full well that His authority rested on His consistency to the Old Testament. If He broke one jot or one tittle of the law, His ministry would have been void. While all this is true and not to be discounted, the reason Christ used the scriptures to validate His ministry was for the Jews’ sake.

It doesn’t follow that non-Jews would start with the Bible as a basis of faith. The purpose of Jesus appealing to the scriptures in His ministry days was because the Jews were following the authority of their scriptures, and Jesus life was consistent with that authority. If He were to go against the teachings of the Old Testament, of which many a Pharisee tried to accuse Him, His ministry would have been invalid. But for those of us who aren’t awaiting a Messiah promised to our people, it doesn’t make sense to embrace the scriptures first, determine their authority and inerrancy, and then believe in Christ as a result of that. Yet, that’s the route that many seem to take in explaining their faith. Somehow, they must validate the testimony of the scriptures so that one can believe in Christ. This is wrong reasoning because Gentiles who do not subscribe to writings given to their fathers do not believe in the authority of scripture, and it becomes an intellectual pursuit rather than a spiritual one.

That being said, Jews and Gentiles both come to salvation one way: by grace alone through faith in Christ. But the scriptures take on a different meaning to Jews than the Gentiles. In both cases, the scriptures could be instrumental in bringing one to salvation, just as a gospel tract, a sermon, or an articulation of the gospel by a friend who didn’t quote an iota of scripture. The question must be asked, then, if faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17), is the Word limited to the scriptures?

What is the Word of God?

Simply stated, the Word of God is God’s message to us. A word is a vehicle through which a thought is conveyed. It manifests the unseen. I was thinking about writing this blog – the thoughts preexisted this post. Yet, it wasn’t manifest until I logged into WordPress and began to type. Words have a revealing quality.

Jesus Christ is called the Word (John 1). He preexisted His incarnation. Though He was revealed 2,000 years ago, He exists eternally. He came as the One who revealed God to us:

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 
3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 
4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (ESV)

Jesus Christ is rightfully called the Living and Eternal Word of God because He is the image of the invisible God. The Word of God, then, is God’s revelation of Himself. It is the message He is conveying to us. It came as prophecies, through the prophets, through the scriptures, and culminates in Jesus Christ. The Word of God, although at times refers to the scriptures, is not confined to just the scriptures.

This is vital for the discussion at hand. The Word of God transcends the scriptures. When His message is given, it can rightfully be called His Word. When a man stands to preach the gospel without a Bible, and just paraphrases, or doesn’t even employ biblical terminology but the message gets across, is that not the Word of God? It certainly is. Whether it is a situation like that or something more specific, faith still comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

But within certain biblical constructs, the Word always applies to the scriptures. Therefore, every time the Bible uses the phrase, it is applied to the writings themselves. This is why positions like King James Onlyism can claim to be biblical. After all, if the scriptures are the Word of God, aren’t they promised to be preserved? So portions of scriptures like Psalm 12 (“the words of the Lord are pure words. . .thou shalt keep them from this generation forever”) and Isaiah 40:8 (“the word of the Lord endures forever”) are taken to mean that God will preserve intact the text of scripture, the writings themselves. But here’s how Peter interprets one of those verses:

I Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 
24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (ESV)

Peter relates the word of the Lord just to the gospel. This passage is of particular interest, because some on the very extreme side of the debate take this to teach something called King James Regenerationism – that one can only be saved by the King James Bible because, unlike the modern versions, the KJV is “imperishable.” This is clearly wrong and very heretical. Peter says the “word of the Lord” that remains forever is the gospel, not the Bible. The Word is the message.

We must realize this because it applies to a number of passages. When Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), is He speaking of the text of scripture? When He says His words will not pass away (Matthew 5:18,19), is He speaking of the text of scripture? Is it not possible that the revelation of God is in view instead? That may include and be applicable to the scriptures in some sense, but it is not about the written text of scripture.

The Word of God is His revelatory message for mankind. He gives it to us according to His mercy and grace. Since we are by nature alienated from God, it takes a divine act of God to communicate with us. God uses different means to bring us His Word, which include prophets, preachers, and the scriptures. But regardless of the means, the glory is to go to God and God alone. When God speaks to our hearts in regeneration, He, by the Holy Spirit, points us to Christ. Therefore, Christ is the starting point, not the Bible.

Jesus’ Relationship to the Bible

In theology, Christology should always trump Bibliology. The Bible is amazing, but it is only meaningful because of Christ. The written word means nothing if not for the Living Word. It’s all about Him. Even the spirit of prophecy is Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:10). The Bible holds the most glorious testimony of any book ever written. Textual studies yield an accuracy that supercedes any other work of its antiquity. It continues to change lives. It was written over a span of 400 years by about 40 different authors, yet contains a harmonized message with no contradictions. Hundreds of precisely fulfilled prophecies are contained within its pages. It brings insight into the world around us while speaking to our hearts. It is also void of any imperfection. The Bible surely has the marks of a supernatural book! But with all of its amazing attributes, it belongs no where else than in the Guiness Book of World Records if it has nothing to do with Christ. My allegiance to the Bible is based on my allegiance to Christ. My submission to the Bible is based on my submission to Christ. My desire to defend the perfection of the Bible is based on my desire to defend the perfection of Christ. I love the Bible because I love Christ, and my love for Christ is the goal in studying the Bible.

Why do our statements of faith start with the scriptures? This is, of course, nit-picking, but I think it’s more consistent to start with Christ. Many Christians embraced Christ over the centuries without a Bible, and many still do. It’s not that those without the Bible don’t have the Word of God, because the Word of God transcends the writings.

Elevating bibliology can sometimes lead to bible worship. A comment left on a fellow blogger’s post on the KJVO issue had this to say:

Finally, one last point. There are other Bible translations taken from TR that form the thin scarlet line of Bibles, the ancient Gothic Bible, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Cloverdale… It’s just that the King James came in a critical junction of human history and has been companion to the biggest revival and evangelization of the Bible to an English speaking world, and hence the most widespread. It has been used by God greatly and is still useful and brings sinners to repentance through the preaching of God’s Word. Why fix what ain’t broke?

And one more point: KJV-Only folks do not worship the King James Bible, we do not think it is inspired, and we do not venerate it. We just believe that it is the best vehicle for the English speaking world to use to convey God’s Word. I firmly believe that when we get to Heaven, we will see a text that we cannot recognize (it will not be English letters), but all of God’s Word is preserved up there and will be there for all to read, meditate and study. But while I’m here on this old earth, the Holy Bible, Authorized Version (KJV) is the one for me. God Bless you preacher!

Now, I realize that blog comments are the last place to find resourceful information, so I’ll let the huge Wycliffe–TR error pass, as well as “Cloverdale” (movie?) slip. But doesn’t this miss the entire point of the Bible? If we’re in Heaven, do we need to read the Bible? Think of the Bible as a love letter from God to you. It is like the soldier away at war writing to his beloved. Especially in days predating email, she would cherish the letter, reread and reread that letter, perhaps even stare at the letter for hours at a time. And why? Her beloved is away. How strange would it be if the solider returned from war, and upon arriving at home, his wife ignores him because she’s in love with the letter? It would probably be as strange as Steven Anderson saying that the Bible is God!

The problem that some people will have with my order of reasoning is that they believe the Bible must first be embraced in order to accept Christ. I hope I covered why that can’t be true. The argument is that the Bible is all we know about Christ, so without it we can’t know about Him. However, this is when I apply my reasoning: the Word of God transcends the writings themselves, and God supernaturally reveals His truth to us despite our intellect. That is, He can reveal truth to someone on a desert island without a written text, why can’t he also do it to the one who is just ignorant about the Bible? To start with the Bible is circular reasoning. It is circular because it starts with the conclusion that the Bible is the Word of God. I don’t think the Christian has to start that way, though I believe he will end up believing it. Wallace writes:

“Suffice it to say that many evangelicals believe that without an inerrant Bible we can’t know anything about Jesus Christ. They often ask the question, ‘How can we be sure that anything in the Bible is true? How can we be sure that Jesus Christ is who he said he was, or even that he existed, if the Bible is not inerrant?’ My response to the above question is twofold. First, before the New Testament was written, how did people come to faith in Christ? To assume that having a complete Bible is necessary before we can know anything about Christ is both anachronistic and counterproductive. Our epistemology has to wrestle with the spread of the gospel before the Gospels were penned. The very fact that it spread so fast—even though the apostles were not always regarded highly—is strong testimony both to the work of the Spirit and to the historical evidence that the eyewitnesses affirmed. Second, we can know about Christ because the Bible is a historical document. If we demand inerrancy of the Bible before we can believe that any of it is true, what are we to say about other ancient historical documents? We don’t demand that they be inerrant, yet no evangelical would be totally skeptical about all of ancient history. Why put the Bible in a different category before we can believe it at all? We are not asked to take a leap of faith in believing the Bible to be the Word of God, or even to believe that it is historically reliable; we have evidence that this is the case.”

I absolutely agree with Wallace when he says, “ the reason I hold to a high bibliology is grounded in my Christology” and also, “I believe I would be on dangerous ground if I were to take a different view of the text than Jesus did.” That’s what this is about – holding to the same doctrines we know Christ held. Never did Christ or His apostles demand someone profess faith in the scriptures as inspired and inerrant before coming to Him. If I am to believe in inspiration and inerrancy, it will be because of Christ, not in order to believe in Him.

So how can I know about the Christ in whom I believe if I don’t embrace inerrancy right away? Simply put, the New Testament is the most reliable and accurate document of its kind and age. Couple that with the testimony of Christianity, and we have a reliable source on which we can base at least general knowledge about Jesus of Nazereth. Admittedly, I thought this was a Catholic argument for a while. I came across something similar several years ago when I read Karl Keatings, Catholicism and Fundamentalism. In describing how Catholics believed the Bible is the Word of God, Keating said something to the effect of, “we know the scriptures are historically reliable. In them, Jesus institutes His Church. The Church says the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, the Bible is the Word of God.” Though I disagree with Keating’s conclusions, I could agree somewhat to where he was headed. The scriptures are reliable enough to know what Christ said concerning them. Once we establish Christ’s authority (by God’s grace in my heart), we find out the scriptures are more than reliable – they are inerrant. The problem with Keating is that he did the same thing with ecclesiology that some Christians do with biblioilogy. Catholics replaced Christ with the Church; some evangelicals and fundamentalists replaced Christ with the Bible. It is, however, unkind to compare evangelicals and fundamentalists with Catholics – there still remains a difference. In replacing Christ with the Church, Catholicism held truth subject to the authority of man. The fundamentalists’ problem with the scriptures don’t yield as big a problem because the Bible will not contradict Christ, but affirm Him. Yet, the place they give scripture could very well be the reason for the hysteria in the Bible version debate. Christ gave us His Word. Christ gave us His church. Both are only as authoritative as they are Christ centered. When we elevate His word above Him or His church above Him, we forget that. So the Catholic reasoning is: Christ is the authority, He gave His authority to His church, the church wrote the Bible and says it’s God’s Word. The Bible becomes subject to the Church. The Christian reasoning ought to be: Christ is the authority, He is God, God wrote the Bible, the church is authoritative so long as it obeys Christ’s word. The Bible is not God’s word because the Bible says so, nor is it God’s Word because the Church says so. It is God’s Word because the Lord Jesus Christ says so.

The inerrancy of the scriptures is a doctrine that is a byproduct of embracing Christ. Inerrancy is not core because it is not essential to salvation. One doesn’t have to subscribe to the inerrancy of the scriptures to be saved, does he? You say, well if he doesn’t believe the scriptures are true about Christ, how could he believe on him? To which I reply, 1) salvation isn’t a mental assent that the scriptures seem to be true or flawless and therefore Christ must be true, it’s a spiritual awakening; 2) the scriptures are accurate and reliable historical documents. They testify of a real Jesus of Nazareth. 3) Faith begins with God, is initiated by God, is procured by God, and is finished by God. The scriptures testify to already existent Truth. Take a look at Wallace’s encounter with his uncle:

“I came home to California for a Christmas vacation early on in the program. And I had lunch with my uncle, David Wallace. He was the first graduate from Fuller Seminary to earn a Ph.D. He earned it at Edinburgh University, under Matthew Black. But he also logged some time in various places in Europe—studying with Baumgartner, Barth, and others. He was not pleased with my choice to attend Dallas Seminary; I was clueless about what he really believed. During the lunch, I asked him what he thought about inerrancy. His response startled me, and changed my perspective for all time. He essentially said that he didn’t hold to the doctrine (though he said so much more colorfully than that!). I thought to myself, “Oh no! My uncle is going to hell!” I felt compelled to ask him what he thought about the bodily resurrection of Christ, fearing what I would hear next. After all, without inerrancy, we really can’t know anything about Christ, right? To my surprise, David said, “If Christ is not raised from the dead, then we’re all dead in our sins.” He was certain about the resurrection of Christ. But how could he be without a bibliological presupposition to back it up? I cannot tell you how great the existential crisis was for me at that moment. Up until this time, I had believed that inerrancy was an essential belief of the Christian faith, one that was indispensable to salvation. When David affirmed the central credo of salvation, I could not deny his spiritual status. I came to the sudden realization that one could be saved without embracing inerrancy.”

Christianity stands or falls on the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in particular His resurrection (I Corinthians 15:14). Since that is truth, our allegiance, our energy, and ourselves should be consumed with communing with Him, obeying Him, preaching Him, and defending Him. The reason it is so vital is because, “if Christ is not risen, then our faith is in vain.” Without Christ, we have no hope. Yet, there seems to be another underlying belief about the Christian faith that is held by the King James Onlyists:

“Christianity stands or falls on biblical inerrancy.”

While I believe in inerrancy, and will defend inerrancy, I do not agree with the above statement because of everything I’ve attempted to articulate up until now. It goes against Christocentric epistemology. It appeals to the intellect, claiming that one must first believe in the integrity of the scriptures to believe in Christ, as if He is on an eternal trial that is judged by people’s minds. If they can somehow see the evidence, they’ll place their faith in Him. Yet, this idea would directly contradict the fact that God must do a work in someone’s heart whether or not He uses evidence as a means for doing so. If I were convinced that Christianity stood or fell on the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, as I once did, I probably would engage in the same kind of argumentation of the King James Onlyists. I could understand the hysteria that fills their books and other propaganda. I sympathize with it, because I know they’re trying to validate the Christian message.

A prominent textual scholar also believes that Christianity stands or falls on biblical inerrancy, and it happens to be Bart Ehrman. Ehrman’s apostasy is actually tied to the fact that he found out there were 400,000 textual variants in the Greek New Testament manuscript evidence. He believes that “if God inspired it, He must have preserved it.” His book, Misquoting Jesus was written to startle even Christians with eye-opening facts such as the pericope adulterae not being authentic. The problem with that is Christian scholars have known that for years. And the problem with that is that only Christian scholars have known that. Ehrman’s goal, then, is to show uninformed Christians that they can’t trust the Bible, and hence, they can’t trust Christianity. Of course, there is no spiritual aspect to this. There is no act of God in regeneration taken into consideration. It’s amazing that the leading apostate textual scholar of our time believes as the King James Onlyists. What’s equally sad is the large amount of Christians who aren’t aware that inerrancy should only be applied to the originals. 

King James Onlyists don’t have a problem that I believe that the autographs were inerrant. It’s that it’s not enough. For them, since everything is at stake, the very translations we have today, 2,000 years later, must equally be inerrant. And since no two versions are alike, only one can be the real Word of God.

Dr. D. A. Waite says, “The FOUNDATION of ALL DOCTRINE is the BIBLE. Having the RIGHT BIBLE is critically IMPORTANT!!” (emphasis his)

Barry Burton said, “If God has not preserved His Word perfect, but has allowed some errors, then since we don’t have the ‘original autographs’, we must assume that we have been teaching and preaching out of a book that is not completely reliable” (Barry Burton, Let’s Weigh the Evidence).

And of course, the starting verse for many KJVO material is Psalm 11:3,” if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” which has nothing to do with the text of scripture. But the point that is being made is that if one doesn’t have a completely inerrant Bible, he cannot know the truth. On the contrary, he can know the truth whether or not the scriptures are inerrant, because God can reveal truth to man with or without the written scriptures.

No matter how each one arrives at it, most KJVO have a biblical construct to support their view. But if Christ doesn’t fit in that construct, it must be disregarded. What did Christ teach regarding the scriptures? Before I get in that specifically, I want to give just two examples, one rather insignificant and one extremely vital, to demonstrate how not having a Christocentric view of theology can leave a doctrinal mess.

Christ and Wine

One common, although not crucial, example of placing a fallible biblical construct over the authority of Jesus Christ is found in His relationship with wine. Because of the horrific, detrimental effects of alcohol, many modern Christians struggle to find compatibility between alcohol consumption and the Bible, though the term “wine” is found no less than 200 times throughout its pages. Though Jesus Christ ate and drank with sinners, was accused of being a drunkard (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), and attended at least one wedding that had wine (John 2), it seems unlikely that the Son of God could have been associated with intoxicating wine.

Based upon the Bible’s strong warnings against drunkenness, the solution to the problem is to outright deny the fact that Christ drank fermented wine, and put together ways to justify the claim that Christ must have drunk unfermented grape juice, like Welch’s.

Now the Bible is explicitly against drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1; 23:31; Ephesians 5:18). And personally for me, I am abstinent and strongly convinced about it. But I do not believe that any amount of revisionist history and books filled with seemingly convincing arguments about fermentation, chemical formulas, and Josephus can prove that the wine used in Jesus’ day was unfermented. However, I do think there’s enough evidence to say it was not as fermented as most wines today. But in light of the culture, the true history, and the fact that God Himself endorses even “strong drink” (Deuteronomy 14:26), I cannot try to make the accounts of Jesus and wine “fit” into my biblical construct. Because of His preeminence, I must interpret the other scriptures on the basis of what I know to be true about Christ.

Despite the strong admonitions, the scriptures never explicitly say one cannot drink wine at all (with the exception of Nazarites and priests entering the tabernacle). The wine that Jesus used was diluted, but it was still fermented. Though I still think there are more than enough reasons for Christians not to drink, there is no justification for being dogmatic about it in light of the fact that Jesus drank wine. I used to hate, as I abstained from wine, for people to say, “but Jesus drank!” Of course, their motives were often misguided. But so were mine. I typically responded with, “well the Greek word for wine there means. .” Well, I was wrong. But at least I know why I was wrong. I wasn’t looking at things from a Christocentric perspective. I was trying to make the Lord Jesus Christ fit the mold of my own personal theological construct.

Christ and the Gospel

This next example is much more significant. For years I struggled with the message that Jesus preached. I was afraid to go to those passages, let alone preach from them myself. There was such a chasm between the gospel I preached and the one of Jesus. Unless, of course, Jesus wasn’t preaching the gospel at all.

All Christians understand the gospel to be the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 1:15). When we preach this message, however, it entails relating the gospel to the person. Evangelism, then, doesn’t just bring the gospel, it answers the question, what does the gospel mean for me? So in preaching the gospel, things like sin and hell, repentance and faith are necessary components.

We also understand that salvation is attained by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8, 9) and not of works (Titus 3:5). The emphases on grace and faith have become so prevalent in many circles that a gross misunderstanding of the gospel has taken place. While it is no stranger to fundamentalism, “easy believism” is just as dominant, if not more so, within evangelicalism. Watered-down presentations of the gospel, void of sin or hell or the law or, at times, all three have plagued the Church in the last century more than anything else. It is also at the root of the numbers-driven churches of fundamentalism and the seeker-friendly churches of evangelicalism. Rare is the prayerful dedication to preaching the holiness of God, His righteous Law, judgment, man’s rebellion, hell, and the necessity to repent. The modern gospel has become things like, “4 things God wants you to know” and the “A-B-C’s of salvation.” The modern gospel is about “asking Christ into your heart” and “praying this prayer.” It caters to man’s “search” and “purpose.” And most of all, it provides an assurance the moment one signs the dotted line.

The preaching of Jesus Christ doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in the above scenario. He used the Law in preaching the gospel (Matthew 10:18,19; Luke 10:26-28; 18:20). He preached repentance (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3,5). He even talked about taking up one’s cross, counting the cost, denying oneself, and forsaking all (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21; Luke 9:23; 14:28)! What can someone with a 1-2-3-repeat-after-me gospel presentation do with all of this?

Realizing the contrast between the modern gospel and the preaching of Christ, various solutions have been proposed. Perhaps Christ was making a distinction between “disciples” and “believers.” Yes, that’s it. He’s talking about those who will follow Him, but not those who will believe on Him. Then there’s the concept of the carnal Christian. Or perhaps He’s talking about rewards in heaven. That’s more assuring. Or maybe He’s only referring to Jews of the tribe of Dan living in the 4th day of the 17th week during the Tribulation. There just has to be an answer! And why? Because Jesus Christ doesn’t fit my pre-made biblical construct.

I hope this illustrates the importance of Christ’s preeminence in theology. There is no inconsistency between Jesus and Paul. Nor is there an inconsistency between Jesus’ habits and the Bible’s commands against drunkenness. But how one interprets these things is another issue. How are we, as Christians, to view the Bible as a whole? It has to start with Jesus Christ. When we understand His teachings, the others fall into place. I have no fear of preaching like Christ anymore. I find no problem in both beckoning men to deny themselves, take up their crosses, and repent before the Lord, while I still affirm that salvation is by grace through faith. I don’t interpret Jesus by Paul, I interpret Paul by Jesus. The same goes for the rest of the Bible and all Christian doctrine.

Having illustrated what I mean when I talk about the relationship between Christology and Bibliology, I can go on (finally) to the reason I began this in the first place. The Bible version issue is a source of much heated debate. New books are written every year, sometimes taking the same arguments and rewording them, and sometimes bringing something new to the table. Though various views exist, the one with which I am most concerned is the King James Version Only (KJVO) view. Like all theological perspectives, the KJVO view contains within it multiple opinions. I want to do my best to recognize the distinction between these views, but I do not want to ignore their similarities, especially the one thing on which all KJVO propnents agree: The King James Version is the only true Word of God for today; and all other Bible versions are to either be shunned or used with caution.

What does Christology have to do with this? Christology should have the same place in the Bible version debate as it does fundamental doctrine, such as the gospel, or even as it does in the details, such as wine. Few things written from the KJVO perspective are Christocentric. Yes, some use arguments by quoting our Lord, but hardly start with Him. Because of this, the same problem occurs within the KJVO perspective that occurred in the above examples. The KJVO view comes from a pre-made biblical construct and then the Lord Jesus Christ is forced to fit into that construct. I propose that if we start with Christ, we will not end up with a King James Only view.

In my next post, I will look into what Christ specifically taught about the scriptures and how He used them.


10 comments so far

  1. fundyreformed on

    Excellent post (and series), Damien. I think you also have earned the prize for longest blog post of the year!

    Looking forward to the next post.

    Blessings in Christ,


    BTW, reading William Combs article on Preservation in the DBTS Journal opened my eyes to the fact that “the word of God” is often the oral message of the Gospel and not the text of Scripture. In fact it is usually not referring to the written text. That was a big step in my coming to understand the deep seated errors of KJV Onlyism.

  2. Damien T Garofalo on


    Thanks for the kind remarks, brother. And yeah, it’s pretty long. . .I had off today, and it’s been in my head for quite some time. I’m sure there’s a lot of redundancies that could be cut for sake of time, but oh well. I don’t expect the next one to be so long.

    Combs’ article has helped me a lot too.

    God bless

  3. brad on

    Wow. Now that’s an exhortation…all 5,900+ words worth!

  4. Kent Brandenburg on


    I don’t get it. Let me now be Christological with you.

    Jesus is perfect. Jesus has no errors. Jesus will not pass away. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Word (John 1).

    So the written Word will be?

    Let me get Christological again. The TR has a stronger testimony to Christ than the CT. The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ, so what does that mean?

    One more thing. You mentioned 1 Peter 1:22-25. If you look at that in the original language, you’ll see that it speaks about both a particular passage (rhema) and the whole of Scripture (logos). Both are used in the text. That would be important for you to know when you want to sort through that.

    Have a good night.

    p.s. Bob will love many moves to the left that you might make, even as I would like a move toward my direction, so you can judge our enthusiasm in light of that point.

  5. Damien T Garofalo on

    thanks for the good night wish.

  6. Kent Brandenburg on

    So you don’t think that the varied usage of rhema and logos mean anything? And how about the historic interpretation of “word”?

  7. Damien T Garofalo on

    no, it is meaningful, but it doesn’t contradict what I said about Peter using Isaiah. the fact that two separate words for “word” are used in that passage might even strengthen my argument.

    as far as historical interpretation goes, we can probably go back and forth for a while with different opinions and support them with different quotes, and then tell each other why a certain quote is invalid or such. you can selectively make history support what you want. maybe I’ll get into that when I’m done with this topic, but my focus is on what Christ said, hence Christocentism, which will be the point of my next post.

  8. Tony on

    Ahhhh, there it is!
    “Or maybe He’s only referring to Jews of the tribe of Dan living in the 4th day of the 17th week during the Tribulation.”
    I’ve been looking for that answer!

    Great stuff, man!!!

  9. […] stands or falls on biblical inerrancy. For more on that, see what I’ve written here, here, and here. Jesus Christ is the foundation, center, and capstone of what we believe and why we […]

  10. […] stands or falls on biblical inerrancy. For more on that, see what I’ve written here, here, and here. Jesus Christ is the foundation, center, and capstone of what we believe and why we […]

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