Can the Bible be used as an idol? Wow, what a bizarre question, hey? Anyone who knows me knows that I often refer to the Bible as my most valued source and absolutely love the book. So why in the world would I imply that it may be used as an idol? Isn't an idol just an inanimate object that people foolishly use in an attempt to replace God? A golden calf or a statue to the unknown god or, dare I say, simply a paper book like the Bible?
Simpy a book? If at this point you are calling me a heretic, great! Maybe I've reached my intended audience. I've seen many people hold up the Bible and loudly proclaim "I believe in the Word of God!" I do admire their convictions. I used to fully share them, but it is actually through studying the Bible that I have realized that I may have been in error.
I started with the idea that the Bible was inerrant and that every word was written by God. Why did I think this? Well, simply because that's what I was told growing up as a child. I was also told that if you dare say anything else you are committing a great sin and who knows, you might get hit by a lightning bolt or something. At the same time I was also told to read and study the Bible, which I did. Ironically enough, my original view of the Bible came into question not through my ideas, but through the text of the Bible itself.
I won't bore you with pages of detailed references, but I have to provide at least two simple examples just to demonstrate my point. First of all I'll address the inerrancy of the Bible. Remember when Jesus cast out the legion of demons but allowed them to enter a herd of pigs nearby? How many demon possessed men were there? A very simple question, but were there one man or two men? Matthew 8:28 clearly states there were two while both Mark 5 and Luke 8:26 are sure there was only one man. Even a kindergarten student with the most basic knowledge of math can tell you that one of these references must be in error. Not an error of huge consequence, I'll give you that, but it is one of the human errors that is indisputable and easiliy verifiable.
Now on to even the letters of Paul that make up a majority of the New Testament. Were they the "very words of God" or were they often mixed with Paul's personal human opinions? Even though Paul obviously loved Jesus and I believe he wrote all his letters with only the best of intentions, he wasn't just sitting there transcribing messages from Jesus. He doesn't always overtly state this, but in at least one case, in 1 Corinthians 7:12, he does let us know very directly in words that we can have absolutely no doubt about that he is NOT speaking for the Lord, he's just giving his personal opinion. How many other times did he do the same thing without noting it? He probably just expected this to be apparent since he was the one signing the letters and never dreamed that anyone would hold them up to be worshiped like an idol. It is us, not Paul, who might like to assume the letters are perfect.
So did the writers screw up? Is the whole Bible to be thrown out as untrustworthy? I'd propose another option: maybe these inconsistencies were put there on purpose. I know Jesus is no fool and does everything for a purpose, and usually his real reasons are very clever and not readily obvious. His actions are like those of a chess master. Remember when the religious leaders of his physical time on earth pretty much worshiped scripture, much like too many people do today, without even personally recognizing Jesus? He outright told them they were taking the wrong approach. He's quoted as saying:
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." John 5:39 (NIV)
Even back then, with Jesus himself physically standing right in front of them, it was human nature to strongly desire something to rely on that seems above human reproach like a paper book in which the authors are dead and therefore revered, for example. This is why idols exist in the first place. But when we use our own limited view of the world to logically attempt to understand the compilation of books we know as the Bible, we have great potential for completely misunderstanding the overall message. Remember, even Satan used scripture to try to tempt Jesus. Do we really think the prince of darkness won't try to use it to mess with our minds too?
The biggest example today is of course would be the one usually referred to as the antichrist. It has been said that this counterfeit will even decieve the "very elect if that be possible." He'll definitely be very clever. Do you think he'll use the Bible as a tool? You betcha! Do you think he'll try to use religion as a tool? You better believe it!
But there is one thing he cannot use as a tool, that is Jesus himself. That's why we have to plug into that source somehow. In order to plug into it we have to recognize it.
I remember talking with a bank manager who told me how he teaches new employees to spot counterfeit one hundred dollar bills. As part of their training he lets them handle enough real bills until they know what they are like. Then when a fake one comes along they can more easily spot it. I think the same concept can be used with the antichrist, but it will only work if we take the time to get to know the real Jesus well enough to know what he is really like. Then when the fake one does come along we will hopefully be able to more easily spot him. I'm sure Jesus will help point him out if you let him too, but we always have to remember to ask.
I'm writing this article for the Lightside web site, and this concept applies very much to some of what they say too. They refer to a unique flavor of channeling sessions with their alien friends who talk very openly about the Biblical God and of Jesus, but it sure is hard to find overt references to channeling in a positive sense in the Bible, isn't it? However, strangely enough, in a few of their sessions someone has actually come briefly come through and simply said "Thank you for doing my Father's work." Interesting hey? Is this heresy or was it really Jesus speaking? If it was Jesus doesn't that kind of imply that their stories about good aliens and a positive message have his tacit approval?
It's definitely something you'd have to be very cautious about, but how would someone like me ever know if it's real contact or a carefully contrived hoax? That's an easy one - I'll simply just continue asking Jesus directly. When I think I have an answer I'll ask him again. In fact, I think I'll just keep verifying things with him to make sure I understand them. If he eventually tells me that I'm talking to him too much I'll take that as a compliment, but that's one thing I really don't think He'll ever get tired of.
I think knowing what Jesus is really like takes a lot of contact with him. Fortunately, this is something you can personally do anytime and anywhere, and even though God can use other people to provide messages sometimes, it really comes down to just you and God. But it does take practice and persistence.
And I just know that someone out there will demand "scientific proof" and not just what they would consider merely subjective personal opinion. What is scientific proof anyway? In the most direct sense isn't it just observation? We try things and observe what happens and if it is a scientific experiment the results can be repeated. If you are one of these people consider this scientific experiment then. Conversing with Jesus isn't a new concept, but to prove it to yourself simply drop any preconceived notions, start with a clean slate and talk with Jesus to see if He answers. But at least have some patience with it. If I were to tell you that heated water will boil and little bubbles will start coming to the top you'd completely miss it if you just put the water on the stove and after quickly observing no little bubbles walk away. Give the whole thing some time.
Talk to Jesus on your way to work. If you take a walk chat with him like He's walking right beside you. Even if you think he's being a pain in the butt for not answering soon enough tell him about it. If you think I'm shoveling you a whole load of crap, tell Him about it! But don't give up. Don't worry too much about what other people think you should think. It may sound strange but it actually works! Answers may come from different directions, but they do come, and the direct contact is absolutely necessary nowadays with all the strange stuff that is happening and will be happening.
If you take one thing away from this article, I hope it's a real contact with the real Jesus. I of course can only introduce the concept here. There's no way I could explain it in words even if I was given a roomful of books. It's something you just have to experience yourself, and I very honestly hope you do. It is an awesome experience and something you'll never ever regret - well, that is unless you never try it.
So don't worship the text of the Bible and what it seems to mean at first reading, let Jesus discuss it with you. This doesn't just apply to the Bible, use it for any book you read or experience you have. And don't be afraid to have fun with it, you'll learn Jesus has a great sense of humor.
All the best in your efforts. One more thing: would you mind doing me a favor by sending an extra thank you to Jesus for being kind enough to make himself directly available to all of us when you get a hold of him? I think way too many people take this for granted.