Sometime along the way, I had a librarian put new book-quality binding tape on the spine and retape the covers. Inscribed in Mom’s handwriting in Spanish on the end-sheet inside the front cover are these words: Presented to Joel Andrews as second prize in the Bible contest, 9th of April 1966. I am spoiled by a great variety of translations and paraphrases to chose from, but this 1960 edition of La Santa Biblia is still my favorite even if it was the second prize in that contest.
I was eight, and all of my religious education since then has emphasized the place of God’s Word in all of life. I was taught to believe that the Bible is indeed God’s word. I was taught to believe that because it is God’s word it is without error. I was taught to believe that the Bible’s authority is faultless. I was taught to believe that the Bible, God’s Word, is the only and final measure by which all things both in life and faith are judged.
Having a very high view of Scripture is not without its controversy. I was once called a “bibliolotrist,” a label suggesting I worship Scripture rather than the God who spoke it. I often find myself at odds with social positions within the church but even more so with society at large. God’s Word speaks clearly to His plan for one man one woman lifelong marriages, for sex within marriage only, for father/mother families as the center of society, and for respect for life all at odds with prevailing winds in society.
Greater, though, than God’s positions on social issues in God’s Word is God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. A clear reading of the Word reveals a creation broken by sin, God’s wrath against sinful humanity, and God’s everlasting love which by grace and mercy overshadows His wrath with forgiveness. God’s Word speaks to the transforming power of forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
I believe Pastor Paul had a very high view of Scripture, too. He assured the Corinthian Christians that “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 3:12 – 4:6 ESV). It would appear, like today, there were Scripture twisters and Scripture deniers in Pastor Paul’s day. In clear opposition to those “in” the Church and those in society who did so, he affirmed his refusal to tamper with God’s word. It is a great responsibility but also an awesome privilege to stand is such a tradition.