Choosing Masters: Christ or the Bible?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:03 AM

It is interesting that Ed just posted something about this. I had been meaning to write about this for awhile.

I have realized that I am not a fundamentalist. Well, this isn't exactly a new revelation, but I've been thinking about it more lately. This has been a gradual shift over the last two or three years as I've spent more time really digging into theology and, especially, learning about Barthian Neo-Orthodoxy.

But, recently, I got an urge to write on this when I was reading an entry over at Theopedia. It was critiquing a theology or theologian — I can't remember which — and the problem with this theology or theologian was that it did not adhere to the most important doctrine of Christianity, or so the article said. What is that doctrine? The doctrine of salvation by grace through faith? No. The doctrine of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? No. The doctrine of perfections of God? No. The doctrine of the person of Christ? No. No, it was none of these, it was the inerrancy of Scripture.

Now, the point isn't that inerrancy isn't all well and good. The point is that the author of this actually thought that inerrancy was the utmost doctrine of Christianity. Unless the Bible is somehow going to die for my sins, however, I cannot agree. The center of the Church, the center of the Bible, the center of the Gospel, the center of everything is Christ. Ultimately, we ought to resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified — just as Paul did.

My problem with fundamentalism is deeper than this — I also see an increasingly strong anti-intellectualism trend in that realm — but primarily it is that its ultimate concern, to borrow a nice phrase from Paul Tillich (sorry, Ed), is not God. Fundamentalism today makes idols out of the Bible, out of Creationism, out of politics and “keeping faith public” and many similar things. Many, if not all, of these things are good in moderate quantities, but they aren't our ultimate concern as Christians.

I've read a bit of Jacque Derrida recently, and the phrase “decentering the center” keeps coming to mind. In deconstructionism there can be no center, but ultimately as Christians we must insist there is a center, and if that center is anything other than Christ, then we are worshipping idols. What good is the Bible without Christ? What good is Creationism without Christ? Christ is first, last and everything in between.

Sadly, while many people get that (and Barth emphasizes it as much as he can), many of those who claim to adhere to the “fundamentals” of faith do not get it in practice, even if they claim it in theory.

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