God-breathed, really?

Yesterday while I was shopping I came across a book called God-Breathed by Josh McDowell. The title nabbed me because for many many years I would use the term to describe why I believed in the Bible the way I did. The words come from 2 Timothy 3:16 where it says “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”

The words were originally written in Greek and the word inspired comes from the Greek word theopneustos. Because the shorter Greek word pneō is a part of that larger word and literally means to breathe, to blow or by the wind, many conclude that because The Bible is their scripture, Paul’s writing to Timothy means that the Bible as we know it today is also “God-breathed” and therefore, God’s Word. Consider the book description from Josh McDowell’s website.

The Bible is no ordinary book. For within its pages are the answers to meet each one of your needs and provide direction for your life. Authored by God Himself, the Scriptures reveal the true heart of a God who knows and loves you and who desires for you to know Him intimately too.
Josh McDowell provides clear evidence that God’s Word is living, relevant, reliable, and historically trustworthy. Sharing his own personal story as a skeptic-turned-believer to his recently acquired, never-seen-before ancient scriptural artifacts, McDowell reveals the irrefutable truth: Scripture is historically reliable, and it is undeniably the most powerful document of all time.

Though I haven’t read the content of the book, I think the words above state very clearly the Evangelical perspective of The Bible I had claimed as my own for most of my life. Paul didn’t actually have a Bible in his possession when he wrote these verses nor did he write them in a verse by verse format. It doesn’t seem too complicated to grasp that at first glance.  Unfortunately, Evangelical faith doesn’t always allow for first glances or the simple act of seeing at face value. In order to describe to you what God-breathed even means, I had to go to Bible concordance and Vine’s Bible dictionary.  Even then I found it a real stretch to go from something being inspired to something being literally written by God. The implications of inspiration are very different from those of literal dictation and have an enormous impact on the worldview of the believer.

I want to write about this because my personal experience with the God-breathed perspective is one of it having created a personal worldview that gave me a false sense of ownership and authority over all of mankind. It was as if there was a secret code to everything and God gave that code to the men who put the Bible together when it was canonized and they gave it to me. Everything started to fall apart when some things came into my life that the Bible didn’t have answers for.

Oddly enough, I continue to have faith in God and I continue to carry out a very spiritual life. At the same time, leaving the identity I had created around the view that The Bible was God’s one and only literal word to mankind has been brutal. It’s created much pain between myself and my parents, life-long friends and most of all, has forced me to dig deeper within myself and find the courage to continue with life on my own terms. Even writing that down makes me feel tense because for so long I would have believed by doing so I’ve gone beyond the pale, been deceived by Satan and have now suffered the loss of my eternal salvation. At times it’s as if those thoughts have been somehow wired into my very being and I almost can’t breathe because they just might still be true. I really might be living with all of those very things. It is no easy thing to leave all that you are and have been for something else.

 “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

I lived for way too long afraid of my own mind and its ability to stretch. Hannah’s mental illnesses have forced Dean and me to stretch our minds and therefore rethink our lives. She is alive today, 14 years after the journey began because we were open to our real.  It has been worth every mental stretch mark.

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