by Greg Hanson
About a century ago, the great English author G.K. Chesterton was asked, “If you were marooned on a desert island and you could only have one book with you, which book would you choose?” Without hesitation, Chesterton responded, “Thomas’ Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”
That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you were in a desperate situation, what kind of book would you want? Would you want one that would entertain you? Would you want one that would educate you? Or would you want one that would actually help you?
Obviously, you would want a book that would help you by providing the solution for your predicament. You would want a book that would tell you how to be rescued. You would want a book that would get you home.
Essentially, this is the Christian view of the Bible—that it explains our predicament and how God has intervened in human history to rescue us. Christians consider the Bible to be God’s revelation of Himself to humanity and a road map to get us home.
Historically, Christians (as well as Jews) were known as “People of the Book.” That term shows the importance of the Bible to the Christian faith. Its importance is highlighted when it is described with terms such as “Scripture” or “the Word of God.” The Apostle Paul described the centrality of Scripture to Christianity in his second letter to Timothy. “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” (2 Timothy 3:15-17, The Message paraphrase of the Bible).
Christians believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, or inspired. This means that while God did not literally write the Bible Himself nor dictate it for others to write, He did guide the writers. Thus, while Elijah may have written one of the books of prophecy in the Old Testament, it was God empowering him and enabling him to know what to write. While the New Testament writings of Paul may have reflected Paul’s distinct style, Christians believe God guided Paul’s writing to ensure that Paul gave good advice and did not promote heresy.
Supported by discoveries of modern archaeology and the science of textual criticism, Christians believe the Bible has been faithfully and accurately passed down through the centuries. Thus, many Christians read it regularly, study it in depth, and memorize it faithfully. They talk about Bible with one another and strive to apply its lessons to their everyday lives. For Christians, the Bible is not just a book; it is a useful book.
For more information, explore our site and study the Bible.