Recently I listened to a message from Andy Stanley in which he explained that the Bible is not the basis for Christianity.
I'm sorry, what?
He went on to explain that for the first few centuries of Christianity — the period during which it went from being a renegade sect of Judaism to being the official religion of the Roman Empire — early believers had no Bible. Some had the Jewish scriptures, others had access to the letters of Paul or Peter, but these and other biblical texts were not compiled together into a single book until much later.
So, if Christianity is not based on the Bible, what is it based on?
When reading the Bible, one gets the impression that its authors did not set out to create a religious book meant to simply impress or motivate its readers. While it certainly has style and beauty, there is something even more compelling in its pages: a record of something that happened, something life-changing. The resurrection of Christ.
While we believe what the Bible tells us about Christ, we do not believe in his resurrection just because the Bible tells us so. We believe in it because of the overwhelming evidence that points to it. Much of this evidence is written about in the Bible's pages and some is written outside of it, but all of it points to the single, well-documented event of Jesus rising from the grave.
Though some may view the resurrection as just a religious story (and the Bible itself as just a collection of religious stories), the journalistic, eyewitness accounts of this event are too much to chalk up to mere story. The Bible is written in such a way as to not just invite us to take its word for it, but to examine its history, the people, places, and events that surround its story. In that regard, the gospel narratives read more like good journalism than they do religious proselytization.
That's why they call the gospel the good news, not the good story.
Is the Bible important to our faith? Absolutely. Is it the word of God? Certainly. But it is important to remember that the Word of God — Jesus Himself — existed long before that Word was ever bound together in a book that we can hold in our hands.
So, while the Bible is a beautiful canvas of God’s revelation to us, it is also a window that allows us take a closer, scrutinizing look at the resurrection of Jesus. When we truly understand this event and why God sent his Son to die on our behalf, this truth will become for us a mirror that shows us our true selves and our great need for him. And when we embrace this truth and allow it to penetrate the depths of our lives, it becomes a prism that reflects the grace of God in a myriad of beautiful and breathtaking ways in the eyes of a skeptical world.
And when that happens, the good news will become even better.