I know I might accumulate a lot of hate for this post; or perhaps, no one will even notice my words on this page, but for those who choose to see this to the end, just stay with me. I promise this is going somewhere.
I Have a Secret to Share…
Lean in close… Here it is: God is bigger than the Bible. I know that may shock some of you who read your Bible every day and/or have read the sacred Script forwards and backwards multiple times (even Leviticus!), but sit with that for a minute.
Let me say it a little louder for those in the back who may have trouble hearing my soft-spoken voice:
GOD IS BIGGER THAN THE BIBLE!
How do I know such a heretical thing to be an absolute truth? Ask me. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
The Night Everything Changed (Getting Angry at God)
The night I discovered that God was bigger than a book, the Sacred Book, I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom with my Bible (one of five) in one hand and my phone in the other. The person on the other line was my current pastor-friend who had been, at that time, trying to understand why I was hating God and doubting everything that was even remotely associated with Christianity. The conversation, to the best of my memory, was as follows:
“…So, you’re angry with God because of all the terrible things He’s allowed you to go through?”
“It’s not that simplistic…but, basically, yea… I kinda wanna rip my Bible apart.”
“Cuz you’re angry at God?”
“Yea. And I mean, it’s just a book, just like Shakespeare. They’re just words on pages…”
“Are you crazy?!”
“Seriously, do it. You’ll feel better. I’ll stay on the phone with you. Get it all out. Tell God you’re angry. Cuss Him out if you need to. He’s not gonna get bent out of shape. He’s a big guy; He can take it.”
“…if I get struck by lightning while doing this, I’m blaming you!”
“You’ll be fine.”
As the sound of his laughter faded from my ears, I stared down at my Bible wondering what would happen if my mother were to walk in at that moment. And then, I decided I didn’t care. I can’t remember where I started—I believe it was somewhere in Romans—but page by page I went, ripping the Scriptures to shreds with a pastor on the phone encouraging me to see this through to the end.
I periodically gave him updates like “Luke is halfway done” and “1 Timothy is ripped out,” thinking that he would, at some point, change his mind and tell me to stop. He never did. The only time I paused my tirade on the holy Script was when I hit the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 31:3b was highlighted in orange and when my eyes glanced over the words, I froze. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.”
For a split second, I considered the words of an ancient prophet, of a God to His wayward daughter, wanting to believe that those words were true, but I couldn’t. In my eyes, God had abandoned me and didn’t care what happened to me which, considering the circumstance I was currently in, seemed fair. I knew better than to expect that a “supposedly” loving God would have anything to do with me when I deliberately left Him with no intentions of coming back. The fact that I was tearing His words apart definitely didn’t help either. I continued shredding the ancient words until there were none left. I told my pastor-friend when I finished the annihilation. As I gathered the torn pages and put them in the trash, we talked more.
“How do you feel?”
“A little better.”
“See? I told you. And you didn’t believe me….” I swear I could hear his smile break wide open through the phone.
“You are, without a doubt, the weirdest pastor I have ever met.”
There’s a Method in the Madness
Now, before you stone me (put the pitch fork down!), hear me out: That drastic measure actually proved to be beneficial. Sounds crazy, right? I know; stay with me. Looking back, I now see that there was a method to his madness in urging me to release all that pent-up anger: It got my emotions out of the equation and forced me to reevaluate my reasons for leaving the faith (Hint: there weren’t many intellectual doubts that could hold a candle afterwards).
Additionally, it made me aware of the most important lesson I have learned as a follower of Christ: Christ/God is bigger than the Bible. How? Simple: After I threw away the torn pages of what once was my Bible, God did not stop being God.
Take note: if the god you’re worshipping can cease to be powerful at the first sign of a challenge (like a ruined holy Book), then you have a pretty weak god.
I wasn’t struck by lightning, the world continued to spin on its axis, and I still heard my mom laughing at the tv in the living room. Take note: if the god you’re worshipping can cease to be powerful at the first sign of a challenge (like a ruined holy Book), then you have a pretty weak god. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. There is Biblical proof of my seemingly bizarre statement.
Biblical Proof that God is Bigger than the Bible
The proof is within the mini library itself. In John 5:39-40, we find Jesus condemning the Pharisees for their religiosity. He, very bluntly, calls them out by saying, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
Breaking Down the Scriptural Proof
Let’s take a look at the first part of that Scripture. “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them….” Though the Old Testament prophets wrote the greatest work of literature while inspired by the Holy Spirit, even Jesus knew that the Torah alone was not a sufficient savior by itself. Essentially, you can read the entirety of the Bible until you memorize every sentence and semicolon, but only God can save you. “…yet they testify about Me…” Jesus is the actual, literal breathing fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies—and there are over 300 of them! “And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
This part of the text did not truly hit me until I left Christianity, which is ironic (trust me, the irony is not lost on me at all!) because this verse, as stated in a previous blog about intellectual Christians and the grace of God, has been my theological fear for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been praised by teachers, parents, and random strangers for my intelligence and I guess, when I started letting myself ask questions about why and how things were, I kinda got carried away. I remember making connections between the Old and New Testaments when I was younger and how excited I felt when something that was previously challenging to understand just clicked. It’s not like I thought I didn’t need God—of course, I did! Didn’t everyone?—but I put Him in a box confined only by Scripture. It’s silly and sad to think about now, but that’s how I lived most of my Christian life before I deconverted. The last sentence of John 5:40 did not truly backhand me across the face until I was sitting in my room with torn Scripture everywhere. In essence, it wasn’t what I had done that made me realize that I was utterly wrong, but what He hadn’t done (kill me right then and there).
Sometimes, drastic measures need to be taken to put you back on the right path. God is not afraid of a challenge, or even your anger. He can take it. Just be sure you’re ready for the aftermath that will come. If you try to put God in a box, He will bust out of it like the powerhouse He is and leave you looking foolish for thinking you can contain Him. Again, let me reiterate this final point: Scripture alone cannot, and will never, be sufficient in and of itself to save, heal, or comfort you. Only Jesus can. If you try to go at this another way, it will not end well. Trust me.
*This post originally appeared on Musings of a Wanderer*