The Bible, a Christocentric revelation
This article is taken from the book Le bon fondement by Olivier Favre.
If you study the Bible as a book of literature, or history, or as a moral treatise, or a textbook on political ideology, as some do, you will study it to no avail. Because the Bible is a book that has only one essential subject: the coming into our history of the Word made flesh; the coming of the Son of God into our humanity to accomplish salvation. Now, if Christ has not come, there is no need to read the Bible, because there is no other way under heaven that we can be saved except by blood and by name. of Jesus Christ. And to read the Bible to find in it anything other than Jesus Christ is a pure waste (cf. Jn 5:39).
So when we read the Bible, we should strive to see Jesus Christ because he is the Savior. And if we study a text of the Word without it causing us to glorify God for salvation in Jesus Christ, we are missing the meaning of the Scriptures. Doesn't Jesus Christ himself claim that the Old Testament speaks of him? When he spoke to the disciples of Emmaus, he began with Moses, i.e. the Pentateuch, and continued with all the prophets, showing them in all the Scriptures what concerned him (Lk 24:27, 45).
Paul likewise declares to the Corinthians that it is only in Christ that the Old Testament finds its true understanding. As long as we do not draw near to Christ, a veil remains and the Old Testament is only a collection of servile laws: "But they have become hard of understanding because, to this day, the same veil dwell when they read the Old Testament and he does not get up because only in Christ does he disappear ”(2 Cor 3:14).
To study the Word of God without first approaching Christ in repentance and faith is to read a book with a veil in front of your eyes. To study Scripture without then seeking to know the Lord better is to do violence to the biblical text itself which leads us to salvation in Jesus Christ. It is therefore legitimate to constantly ask ourselves certain questions when we meditate on Scripture: How does this text relate to salvation in Jesus Christ? How does he announce the coming of the Messiah? How does he prepare for the coming of the King of glory? In the New Testament: How does he explain the work of salvation in Christ to me? How does it help me get to know the person of Jesus Christ better? What New Testament text could help me understand the Old Testament text? How does the Lord enlighten him? Christ is the central subject of the Word of God.
After these five statements about the Bible, let's now take a look at four mistakes that are easy to fall into.
1 °) The first error, common today, is to believe that the reliability of the Bible is limited only to its religious teaching and not also to the sciences, and that, consequently , when it is in contradiction with current science, it must be relativized, accommodated to science. Let us take an example: in the XIX th century, German rationalists, basing themselves on the knowledge of their time that writing did not exist in the time of Moses, argued that it was impossible that Moses wrote the books of the Pentateuch.What could the Church oppose to such assertions? Simply faith, believe according to the Scriptures that Moses had written these books well! Today the argument of the German rationalists does not hold any more because archaeological discoveries show us that, long before Moses, there were entire libraries. Town archives have been found proving that writing did exist, several centuries before Moses. When the Bible is at odds with science, let us keep faith in the Word of God even if we do not understand, because it has full authority and if God wants to reveal to us one day by science that the Bible is the truth, he will do it as in the past.
2 °) The second error is to believe that, because the Bible is a Christocentric revelation, we must see representations, types of Jesus Christ, in all the texts of the Old Testament and in all the characters. It was already a fault of the School of Alexandria, and more particularly of Origen, but it is a fault that we still find today: that of allegorizing the Old Testament, that is to say say to read historical accounts as mere stories of spiritual realities and to superimpose Jesus Christ on one character or another, or to plaster New Testament doctrines on Old Testament texts that were not so clear.
Paul makes an allegory, in Galatians 4: 22-26, citing Hagar and Sarah, but he was inspired of God. He was able to do this because the Spirit of God gave him this infallible understanding of the Old Testament. As far as we are concerned, we stressed above that we are not inspired like the apostles but rather enlightened by the Spirit of God. We therefore do not have the authority to allegorize the Old Testament texts as the apostle did.
So our responsibility is not to make all the Old Testament stories allegorical, but to show how God has revealed Himself by protecting His people, by feeding them, by answering their prayers; how he answered Abraham, that faithful man, how he punished others, and how he prepared for the coming of Christ.
3 °) The third error is to seek to reproduce today the extraordinary events which are found in the Word of God. The revelation is progressive, it implies that certain events, which have taken place once in history, do not need to be repeated. If we understand this, we will avoid the trap that some people who are hungry for miracles fall into.
So if we understand that speaking in tongues at Pentecost had a specific purpose, that of "forcing" the proclamation of the Gospel message to pagans and other nations, we will not seek to repeat this event in our time. The same is true of the crossing of the Red Sea: it took place once and for all on the way out of Egypt and we do not have to try to reproduce the same event. It is written to show us the liberation of God's people from slavery.
4 °) Finally, the fourth error is that of building a doctrine without taking into account all the biblical data on the subject. It is easy to take a verse, read it, study it, and build a whole doctrine without avoiding other verses that might get in our way or contradict the doctrine we are building. Rather, our responsibility as Christians is to act honestly before the Word of God: take all biblical data and seek to interpret it as faithfully as possible.We will only be able to state a doctrine when we have succeeded in giving a plausible and certain interpretation even to texts which appear to oppose it at first glance
The Bible is a wonderful book, we realize this more and more, but it is not always easy to understand because our human hearts are crooked and we quickly slip from one side to the other. side or the other. So let us constantly approach this book in a spirit of humility and prayer so that God may enlighten us. Let us ask him for the illumination of his Spirit. Let us read it to know it better and better, to imbue ourselves with it in order to glorify better and better Jesus Christ our Savior revealed in Scripture.