Putting God in a box

For us to put God in a box has negative connotations. We hear this comment from those who are attempting to persuade certain views, based on Scripture, but when their agenda isn’t met with Scripture alone, they’ll present this as a means to justify the point they’re trying to make. Interpret the Bible using the cultural setting of the times when It was written, make use of historical writings to supplement the meaning of God’s more difficult decrees and, my all time favorite, depend on our feelings and experience to bring light to doctrines that cause us pause when we’re in the midst of unpacking their meaning. “Don’t put God in a box,” we say, “He’s bigger, more majestical, that that.” Well, I digress. God is in a box, so neatly wrapped up within the canon of Scripture. Genesis to Revelation, and all those books in between; the Bible is His box. And, as humbly as possible, I insist that He intended for all the words, desires, feelings, experiences, stories, commands, and letters of the law to be boxed up for us, even today, to open whenever we’re struggling to seek His answers to our questions.

To be clear, there’s nothing heretical about considering extra-biblical information to assist us as we come to conclusions to the myriad of questions regarding doctrines and beliefs. The key, though, is to lightly consider these other forms of enlightenment while always returning back to the “box” God provided us, His Word. Read copious amounts of literature, articles, and works of writing that cover the topic at hand with an open mind to what the writer is conveying. However, to allow your mind to be drawn to these casemakers’ arguments, without consistently checking their points against what God has to say, is foolish of us.

God put Himself in a box; a box we call the Bible. This box doesn’t welcome any other contents in it, only His divine desires written out for us to consult. He doesn’t welcome other critiques to join Him in His box. Scripture was written so that readers could glean His meanings and direction directly from it alone. No Calvin’s Institutes, no Augustine’s Confessions, no major theological historian’s writings, no Church creeds, can stand against the Bible. Period. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and everything in between: nothing can contend with the box He put Himself in.

So what are we to do when the musings of questionable beliefs present themselves? Are we to only read Scripture, without consulting other writings to assist us in discovering the desires God has for us? Shall we ignore the insights of past and present theologians in our search for answers as to whether the church is biblically in line with doctrinal beliefs, such as baptism, gender roles, speaking in tongues, modes of communion, healings, prophecies, and all other contentious issues that are continuously debated amongst Christian circles? Surely not. Gathering studied persons’ material into our minds, through our eyes and ears, is an important exercise in discernment. If we’re not open to taking it all in, filtering each point with what Scripture has to say, then we’ll never learn to practice the closing of our minds to heresy or unbiblical belief. The little boxes we gather around our Bibles will find their way out of our collection as we keep the box God designed for us sacred, regardless of how much sense they may make in our minds. It isn’t what is sensible to us that matters most; it’s what God says that does.

With so many introductions into questions regarding doctrine and beliefs of Churches or respected theologians, I’ve found myself remaining grounded only by the unrestrained passion for Scripture’s testimony above all others. This gets me labeled many things: close minded, ignorant, stubborn, unenlightened, small minded, among other seemingly insulting descriptive labels. I hold firm to Scripture as my only authority and I do so unapologetically. The labels aren’t offensive to me as much as a source of support that I’m on the right track, the track set before me that has God’s Word written all over it. To consider the views of other influences is actually an enjoyable hobby of mine, but only because I’m fixed in finding the truth of it all within the pages of Scripture. If God hadn’t provided the divine box in His Bible, it’d be a frustrating endeavor to seek the answers. But He has and, we have, Him perfectly and providentially contained and at our fingertips to lead us through the process of seeking answers to the questions that arise in our walk with Him. Praise God for that, for putting Himself in a box that contains everything we need to know about Him and the ever changing world we’re in.

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