Q&A: Loyalty to God and Loyalty to Scripture

Loyalty to God and Loyalty to Scripture

In what ways does the New Testament require loyalty of his followers?

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Answer

Christians are called Christians because they believe Jesus is the Messiah. That's what the word means. The Greek word christos is a transliteration of the word Christian… Or Christ is a transliteration of christos, which in Hebrew would mean "Messiah." So, "Christians" really means "Messiah people." And it means our loyalty is to Jesus. At the same time, we know about Jesus only through the New Testament, through the Bible, and therefore, conservative Christians, evangelicals, have often been accused of worshiping the Bible, being loyal to the Bible. There's even a technical term that was invented to bash us, which would be "bibliolatry," that this is what fundamentalists do, they worship the Bible. And one obviously always needs to be careful that there are not developments starting that might be problematic. But I don't know whether any Christian ever actually worshiped the Bible as a book. We treat the Bible with utmost respect. My grandfather, who worked for a publishing company, never would put a book on top of a Bible. He would never stack… He would stack books, but the Bible would have to be the top book. There was an expression, "Not of his worship of the Bible but of his respect." Of course, as Christians, our basic loyalty is to God and to Jesus Christ, our Savior, and that always needs to be clear. At the same time, we learn from God, we learn about God only through the Bible and through Jesus, and therefore, we are indeed loyal to the Bible as well. We want to defend it, but more importantly, we want to understand it. We read it and there is no contradiction, really, between being loyal to God and Jesus and being loyal to Scriptures, because one entails the other. Without the Scriptures, we wouldn't know anything reliable about God and nothing about Jesus, and therefore, our primary loyalty is to God and to Jesus. But that means we are loyal to Scripture as well.

Answer by Dr. Eckhard Schnabel

Dr. Schnabel is Professor of New Testament Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston MA