Six Views of the Bible

| Time: 5 Minutes

We at believe that the Bible is God’s Word, the very thoughts and will of God in written form given to us out of his love, to tell us the truth about ourselves, our world, and about him. But not everybody believes this. Let’s look at six ways people view the Bible.

Six Views on the Bible

1. Rationalism

A person with this view of the Bible prioritizes the natural world. Rationalists trust their reason and intellect to determine truth.

Because most rationalists deny the supernatural, they deny that the Bible is from God. Instead, they believe it to be a book like any other book written by men. Atheists are of course rationalists, but even some who believe God exists may still not believe that he reveals himself to mankind, or even cares to do so. Now, some rationalists would allow for the possibility of divine revelation, but human reason would still be the final judge of that revelation. Thus, they would conclude that people wrote the Bible, and since those people were prone to mistakes, the Bible contains errors and contradictions.

Someone who holds this view might say, “If there are things in the Bible that don’t make sense to my reason and thinking, I simply ignore them. The guys who wrote the Bible didn’t understand my culture and how we think these days.”

2. Romanism

A person with this view of the Bible holds the Roman Catholic view that the Bible is the product of the Church and is therefore not the sole authority. What is truth? Tradition and Scripture determine that, they would say.

A person who holds this belief would say that the Tradition of the Catholic Church stands alongside the Bible, and both are authoritative for the Church. They believe that the Bible is a source of truth, but it is interpreted by the Church. This approach to the Bible is also present in churches where they only interpret the Bible in agreement with their own doctrine and tradition.

Someone who holds this view might say, “I know what the Bible says about marriage, but my pastor or priest told me otherwise, so I will listen to what he says, because he’s my authority too.”

3. Mysticism

A person who holds this view of the Bible believes that their experience is authoritative alongside the Bible. In other words, the mystic believes that God can communicate to them directly outside of the Bible, even if this somehow contradicts the Bible in some way.

Therefore, experience is placed alongside the Bible as an equal source of truth. The mystic may claim that the Holy Spirit is dealing with them directly, which makes it okay for them to ignore the revelation found in the Bible at times.

Someone who holds this view might say, “Why would I look in the Bible at things someone else wrote 2000 years ago when God’s Spirit can speak to me in my heart?” Or, “God told me who I’m going to marry, so I don’t need to hear what the Bible says about marriage.”

4. Neo-Orthodoxy

A person who holds this view of the Bible believes that the true “Word of God” is Jesus Christ, and the written word of God in the Bible is an imperfect witness to this Word, Jesus.

A person with a neo-orthodox view believes that the essence of Christ is contained in the Bible, but there are errors and mistakes and other non-essential matters also in the Bible. Therefore, they believe they must look beyond the “useless” material in the Bible and dig deep to find the hidden message about the true Word, Jesus.

Someone who holds this view might say, “The Bible is partly from God and partly from imperfect humans. We need to sift through the Bible and discard the parts that we determine are in error.”

5. Syncretism

A person who holds this view of the Bible believes that the Bible is authoritative along with the writings of their particular group’s founder or leader. This view of the Bible is held by cults. For example, the Mormons believe that the writings of Joseph Smith are of equal authority with the Bible.

People who hold this view would say that the Bible alone is no longer authoritative for today. Instead, we need men and women to supplement the Bible’s truth with new truth.

Someone who holds this view might say, “The Bible is a word from God, but was just for a certain time period. Now our cult’s leader has new revelation, which supersedes the revelation of the Bible.”

6. Evangelicalism

People who hold to an evangelical view of the Bible believe that the Bible alone is our authority. Evangelicals believe that every word of the Bible was inspired by God, and that his Word determines truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

This belief is the position that the Bible itself teaches. Because the Bible is God’s Word, it reflects God’s character: because God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), the Bible is completely reliable and trustworthy (Psalm 119:42); because God is perfect (Psalm 18:30), his words are flawless (Proverbs 30:5); because God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:15-16), his words endure forever (1 Peter 1:25).

Someone who holds this view might say, “I filter what my pastor says through God’s Word to see if it aligns with what God says. I consider how God’s Word would interpret my experiences, and at the end of the day, I obey to the best of my ability what I can understand from God’s Word, because he has the final say on everything in my life.”

This evangelical view of the Bible is the way the Bible itself teaches us to view it. Our prayer is that you would take an evangelical view of the Bible, which is an unnecessarily fancy way of saying—believe that the Bible has ultimate authority over our lives. In it, God speaks to us, and he does so out of his great love. Therefore, we trust him and obey what his Word teaches.

Ask yourself, “Which way do I approach the Bible?” If you would like to learn more about what the Bible claims about this evangelical view of the Bible, we highly recommend the book, Taking God at His Word, by Kevin DeYoung.

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Is the Bible Authoritative?
We come under the authority of the Bible because we want to trust, listen to, and obey the voice of God, who speaks through it.