My Response to Rick Warren’s “Jesus Trusted the Bible. You Should Too.”

Rick Warren wrote: Jesus Trusted the Bible. You Should, Too.

I trust Jesus and the bible. Unfortunately, Warren’s article is built on a common leap of logic – the notion that what we know and believe about Jesus is somehow separate from the bible itself. It is the bible (NT) that informs our ideas about what Jesus believed about the bible (OT). Which is sort of like me saying, “I’m trustworthy. Just ask me.” Skeptics are not persuaded by such an argument – it just sounds silly. And, faith and doubt are not incompatible. “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief!”

Why does Rick feel it necessary to call us to a faith tenet that scripture does not call us to hold? The claims he makes regarding Jesus’ understanding of scripture are reasonable, but by no means exclusive, and certainly not explicitly elucidated in the New Testament itself. What is clear is that the New Testament presents Jesus as living and teaching as though the Hebrew Scriptures were authoritative in his life and should be in ours. Poetry and history can most definitely be authoritative, and are genres of writing that can and do change lives. Again, Warren here relies on a common false choice. Which again leaves seekers and skeptics shaking their collective heads at such a weak argument. I respect Rick, and know he has done better.

Yes, the New Testament shows us that Jesus trusted the God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures and Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books (those written after Daniel and before the birth of Jesus – from which ideas like bodily resurrection and the existence of angels were most clearly derived by the Pharisees, with whom Jesus agreed doctrinally. Yes, as Jesus is revealed in the canonical Gospels, he taught from those texts. He also taught from them in a way that most people around him – the religious authorities, experts and scholars in particular – did not recognize or understand as “true”. He believed the bible in a way that no one else in his generation seemed to. At least that is what I think the Gospels suggest, given that no one recognized him as the Messiah, and no one understood what was unfolding to be a part of God’s redemptive work.

The New Testament then was written by people who trusted Jesus as the fullest revelation of God among human kind. Through their own writings inspired by the Holy Spirit, through their own faith in the God whom Jesus trusted and revealed, they shared Jesus with us so that we “who have not seen” might “yet believe.” (John 20:29; 1 Peter 1:8). Our trust in the bible precedes our trust in Jesus, to a certain degree, because it is through the bible that we come to know most fully who Jesus is. It is the bible which serves as our lens of faith through which we see and interpret our world, our lives, and existence itself. In the process we may remember that the bible itself was also written through other lenses not our own – from other times, cultures and worldviews. So what then does it mean for us to trust the bible? and to trust Jesus? That is the journey of faith. And it is not helped by shallow arguments like Rick Warren’s in “Jesus trusted the Bible. You should too.

4 thoughts on “My Response to Rick Warren’s “Jesus Trusted the Bible. You Should Too.”

  1. @KenGCrawford @toddboddy Ken, excellent article. This is the kind of teaching I would like to see more of in the church. Unwrapping the leaps of logic that sound pretty good until we look more closely.  How would you summarize what Jesus trusted? The God revealed in Hebrew scripture and through himself? Obviously the NT didn’t exist yet.

    • Thanks. Your question is a good one. I’ll mull on it and try to articulate a cogent response. How would you respond to it? For starters, I would say that Jesus trusted the Father’s love for him and the affirmation that came through it. “You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” This was Jesus’ experience of God, which then became the filter through which to see and hear the scripture and tradition.

  2. Hmm. It is an interesting question. I have come to think of Jesus as the incarnation of the Word of God. If I follow that far enough, it leads to Jesus having experience of God that was prior to the incarnation. Thus, Jesus had a level of awareness of God that we don’t have through his full divinity. Above all, I think he trusted that. The scripture was a tool he used to teach people.

    However, that view doesn’t seem to honor the full humanity of Jesus. This Jesus who was born a babe and had to learn from Hebrew scripture and his parents and community just like us. That Jesus learned to trust God through study of scripture and experience of God through prayer and presence.

    Somewhere in Jesus’ growth, these two views must have been melded into one person. Guess that’s part of the mystery? I wonder if as he grew and studied, he experienced a gradual growing consciouseness of his full divinity as the presence of the divinity of God grew to its full stature within him.

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