Believe in the Bible or Believe in the Christ?

In his crisp book, Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God, Timothy Ward points out that the suggestion that “Christians are not those who believe in the Bible, but those who believe in Christ” (so saith John Barton) forces “a false dichotomy on us. We do not have to choose between ‘believing in the Bible and ‘believing in Christ. As Christians we are called on to do both” (Ward, Words of Life, 11).

Ward seeks “to articulate, explain and defend what we are really saying when we proclaim, as we must, that the Bible is God’s Word.” He is “attempting to describe the nature of the relationship between God and Scripture” (11), and explains that:

“the kind of doctrine of Scripture this book will outline is one that aims to demonstrate that its every aspect is shaped from the bottom up by the character and actions of God, and is integrally related to God’s being and action, yet without the inert book coming to eclipse the living Saviour” (17).

I had a great time getting to know Tim Ward in the Grand Canyon, and I’m really enjoying hearing his voice in my head as I read his book. I wish I had read it earlier so I could have put it on my hermeneutics syllabus for this fall. I commend it to you.


9 replies on “Believe in the Bible or Believe in the Christ?”

  1. Good to see this. I’ll have to check out Ward’s book. I think it has been lost in our modern era that as Christians we presuppose the truthful word of God as His standard of truth and direction. Revelation is the foundation of knowledge, and we need to be reminded that ‘All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ (Col. 2:8). Those treasures are found in His Word.

  2. If Christians really believed this then there would be no theology, which is man made. I also have to have faith in God beyond how He reveals Himself in the Bible. His ways are not ours and I sometimes feel the He knows just how much to let us in on about Him is for our own good. Theology presumes to know more, or as much, than what the Bible reveals about God. Despite our faith we still have to add our two cents. For myself, I believe in God in all His aspects as revealed in scripture, but the bible itself is still a flawed, human conduit. So I believe in the Word but not necessarily in the word.

    1. Hi Matteo,
      “For myself, I believe in God in all His aspects as revealed in scripture, but the bible itself is still a flawed, human conduit”.

      I personally don’t agree with your statement that the Bible itself is still a flawed, human conduit, but I’ll wait and see if Professor Hamiltion comments on this. Blessings to you Matteo.

  3. “Believe in the Bible or Believe in the Christ?”

    I’m glad Timothy Ward (as do so many others) declares that this is a false dichotomy.

  4. There are different ways of formulating a reply to Barton, such as:


    i) Jesus believed in Scripture

    ii) We believe in Jesus

    iii) Ergo, we believe in Scripture

    2) We believe in Jesus because we believe what Scripture says about Jesus.

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