God intends to be known. We all desire to know God intimately, deeply, and personally. Our instinctive longing for authentic intimacy with God is often hijacked by a subtle and deceptive misappropriation powered by a variety of seductive, carnal, and detrimental vices and temptations of a corporeal nature. It’s quite hard to figure out what to do with this “God-shaped hole” living deep within each one of us. We are offered a myriad of substitutions, fillers, and replacements, but the real thing is the only thing that will ever do. We all need God. So, where do we look for God? Where can we hear from God? The answer to this question is ridiculously simple, in spite of the seemingly endless stream of audible ideological voices and philosophical sales pitches persistently vying for our immediate attention and allegiance.
God has revealed God in the Scriptures. The Bible is God’s story of creation and re-creation. God can be intimately met and deeply engaged in this story. No, God is not limited to the story; God can be met and engaged through nature, circumstance, and experience too. These are all common forms pointing towards something theologians refer to as “General Revelation.” Yes, God can be met and experienced in terms of general revelation. I would be a fool â€“ and nearly a blasphemer â€“ if I were to say I never experienced God’s breadth beneath a tranquil, lush-green, canopy of trees and chirping birds, or beneath a peaceful, star-laden, night’s sky, or at our family’s Saturday morning breakfast table’s cache of children, chatter, and Cheerios. Yes, God can be met intimately through general revelation.
General revelation is not, however, the final authority of the Christian’s faith and practice. The aforementioned experiences of general revelation are wonderful examples of unarguably beautiful events, but not all events and/or experiences are equal. Human experience can be as ugly as it is beautiful, at any given moment. Some experiences are, for example, completely contrary to God’s best plan for our life and living. Differentiating between the beneficial and detrimental experiences of life and living is the responsibility of the believer, but we have not been left orphaned to figure it all out for ourselves. God has revealed God’s best plan for life and living in the Bible and offers the Holy Spirit as guide and comforter. Theologians call this “Special Revelation.” It so-called because God uses supernatural means to communicate God’s message to humanity. So, it can and should be said that the Bible is, as a supernaturally revealed story, the final authority for the Christian’s faith and praxis.
The Bible, again, is story. It is narrative. Narrative need not be strapped with terms such as inerrancy or infallibility. Christians miss the point of story when arguments over theories of inspiration like these are and/or become the focus. The Bible is a God-breathed story (2 Tim. 3:16), and as such it invites us to become characters in God’s drama. It is an invitation to live in authentic relationship with God and others; just like the people who are illustrated in its pages do. It is not a book of rules and doctrines, but a story beckoning its readers to become more than readers. It is a story that re-writes itself in every generation. It’s a story that invites its readers to become integral characters in a plot made possible only through Christ Jesus. The Bible is a narrative. We all have the power to add â€“ or take away â€“ from the story. The story is alive.