Christians often fight with one another about the Bible—especially the nature of its authority. And, by all means, the Bible is worth fighting about! It is and should be our primary source of authority to guide Christian doctrine and living. Moreover, when we read the Bible rightly, the Holy Spirit himself meets us in the reading and enables an encounter with the divine. Reading the Bible is potentially nothing less than a supernatural event.
So when we argue about what scripture is, what it means, and why it matters, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
The following excerpt from one of C.S. Lewis’s letters hardly settles all disputes, but it does offer a necessary but little emphasized perspective: The Word of God is literally Jesus Christ. The Bible is the Word of God in a figurative but powerful sense: it points us to the Word who is Jesus.
This excerpt is used in The C.S. Lewis Bible as a reflection on John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him. When it becomes really necessary (i.e., for our spiritual life, not for controversy or curiosity) to know whether a particular passage is rightly translated or is Myth (but of course Myth specially chose by God from among countless Myths to carry a spiritual truth) or history, we shall no doubt be guided to the right answer. But we must not use the Bible (our fathers too often did) as a sort of Encyclopedia out of which texts (isolated from their context and not read without attention to the whole nature & purport of the books in which they occur) can be taken for use as weapons.†
† C.S. Lewis in “And the Word Was God,” The C.S. Lewis Bible, NRSV (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 1188.