The church I attend gets “written up” rather frequently in the bulletin of a neighboring church which – though its name includes “Church of Christ” – might not necessarily include us in that fellowship.
We don’t do everything right, you see. We have a brand new Family Life Center which cost a lot of money, money that could have been spent feeding the hungry and caring for the poor. We collect food and clothing and necessities and sometimes distribute them through organizations that are not churches, even though they are connected with Churches of Christ. We open our church building to seminars and meetings not necessarily conducted by church members, such as a recent one to help those grieving the loss of family members.
In the article of our neighboring church’s bulletin (I’d point you to it online, but their site is down half the time and when it’s up it’s usually several months out-of-date) upbraiding us for this last sin, a peculiar statement was made: that the Bible alone should be enough comfort and strength and guidance for the grieving.
Does the Bible take the place of God’s own Spirit mourning with us in our prayers with utterances that words alone cannot express?
Does the Bible take the place of a loving community of church family, enwrapping our grief in its arms and weeping with us and bringing food and flowers and other tokens of shared woe and encouragement when the will to go on is gone?
Does the Bible take the place of God Himself, wiping away our tears in heaven?
Do the Bible’s words of comfort and guidance reach those who are not familiar with them; who don’t know their context or the stories behind them; who do not believe them when they hear them – perhaps because someone has vociferously insisted that the Bible has all the answers when in fact they have encountered many valuable answers outside of the Bible in their lives?
Is the Bible intended to be the one and only panacea for peril, a magical incantation for the relief of suffering and pain and grief, a liturgy of lament that miraculously heals all wounds?
Does God deny the power of helping to psychologists and psychiatrists who have studied medicine, anatomy, chemistry, biology and human behavior? Does He withhold intelligence, caring, skill and capability from those who are unfamiliar with His word?
Will it simply do – as a friend of mine pointed out – to comfort a nine-year-old girl who has lost her mother in a terrible accident by telling her, “Go read your Bible, honey; that’ll make you feel better”?
Certainly there is a place like no other in the believer’s heart for the Bible. But it’s just wrong to try to make it more than it is, or was ever intended to be. It’s the story of God and us. It was never meant to be the book that answers all our questions. It was never meant to be the book that gives us all the rules we must perfectly follow or be written forever out of the Book of Life.
It reveals the Word, but it is not the Word.
That’s a title and role reserved for God’s Son.
So to try to make it the last word on everything is just plain goofy.