I was musing, not for the first time, upon how in the Science-Christianity debate, the first casualty is usually the authority of Scripture. That’s, perhaps, somewhat understandable from Catholic or Orthodox commentators, for whom the Bible has always shared its authority with tradition or the heirachy. But given that both in ID and TE discussions a majority of Christians appear to self-identify as Evangelicals, the emphasis on the human authorship of Scripture at the practical expense of divine authorship is surprising.
Hardly less so is the frequent strand of argument that the letter (ie the written word) kills, whereas the Spirit (ie Jesus, the true Word of God) gives life. Trust in the actual words of Scripture is bibliolatry. Close to that is the idea that the Bible has no particular authority except what the Holy Spirit gives it in the heart of an individual. Christ does not intend us to rely on the Bible for propositional truth, but on him directly for spiritual sustenance.
For a long while that seemed completely specious to me, as well as flying in the face of Christian belief down the millennia and the teaching of the Bible itself. . But sure enough, by tracing a lesser known, though clearly more original, set of textual variants I’ve now come to see how Jesus himself endorsed this modern view. What a pity corruption (deliberate, perhaps, by Calvinists and the like?) of the text has kept the truth hidden for so long. Look then, at what your Bible should have said:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.
Jesus answered, Your worldview might include supernaturalism, but don’t expect me to abandon scientific reason too.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.
Jesus answered, Much Jewish tradition doesn’t accept you’re a personal agent anyway, so what’s to worship?
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Jesus answered, It is said: What’s with all this Bible-quoting stuff – you’re talking to the Logos himself here, you know.
Then the devil left him and went off to found the Gideons.
(Compare Luke 4.1-12)