PAPER POPE – An Interview
Today the Christian Ledger is interviewing Brother Levi Sandals. We have had serious differences with him in the past. But we want to give him a fair chance to explain. Jesus said to go first to your brother.
Ledger: Thank you for speaking with us. We thought it important to hear from you personally. Things have a way of being distorted when passed on from one mouth to another.
Sandals: I certainly have been misunderstood in some things I now deeply regret having done. It did cause me problems.
L: Did you do it? What we heard, that is. We were in
at the time. We were all properly scandalized! And shocked! Christian College
S: Yes. To my regret I did. In a fit of emotion I got carried away. Perhaps you have done this too.
L: You actually threw your Bible on the floor and said: “I will not be bound by a paper pope.”
S: In my defense I ask you to listen to what Jesus said. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.” That is what I had intended to do.
L: Then you do accept the Bible?
S: I believe that holy men of God wrote just exactly what God intended. My problem is with some who READ INTO IT things that are not there. That is what I intended to protest.
L: But you spoke of a “paper pope.”
S: Paul wrote: “The letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” I believe Paul was speaking about the way in which some use the Bible.
L: But isn’t what Paul said a contrast between Law and Gospel?
S: Listen to Paul. “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.” 2 Cor 3:14 (NKJV) Again, Listen to Christ Himself. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you THINK you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 (NKJV)
L: So you are saying with Jesus: “Take heed how you hear.”
S: That’s what I had intended to say. But you know preachers. Sometimes we get too involved in what we are trying to communicate.
L: We remember when a young preacher was trying to emphasize how Naaman had to dip seven times. “If Naaman had dipped only six and a half times he would not have been saved.”
S: No, he would have drowned. That is just my point exactly. We use the laws of language when we read the newspaper. We should read the Bible using these same laws of language.
L: Alexander Campbell said he tried to approach the Bible each day as if he had never seen it before.
S: Certainly this is impossible. But we do want to let the Bible speak for itself. That is, to use the laws of language and context to deduce what the Bible is actually teaching.
S: This is how Karl Barth describes the shift towards Biblicism that took place in much of Protestantism after the Reformation: The Bible was now grounded upon itself apart from the mystery of Christ and the Holy Ghost. It became a "paper Pope," and unlike the living Pope in
it was wholly given up into the hands of its interpreters. It was no longer a
free and spiritual force, but an instrument of human power.” (CD I.2, p 525) Rome
Here is where Barth finds the great sin of Biblicism. Rather than submitting to the Word made flesh revealed in the Bible (i.e. Jesus), we have all-to-often submitted simply to the book, to the Bible. Which ultimately takes the authority away from Christ and places it into the hands of the interpreter of Scripture. And Peter the Apostle said some had twisted the words of Paul the Apostle. [2 Peter 3:16.]
L: We hear you saying that some by their actions seem to say: “We have the Bible – we have no need for Christ anymore.”
S: Yes. And some deny the Holy Spirit as did some Jews in Christ’s day. They said Jesus did miracles by the power of the devil.
L: What then do you see as the power of the Bible?
S: I Think Luke said it in the first verses of his Gospel. “…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Luke 1:4 (NKJV) As eye-witnesses of JESUS the disciples saw and heard the things which He did and taught. And Paul (Luke’s mentor) was given these things by inspiration.
L: We sing: “The Light of the World is Jesus!” Red letter editions emphasize the words Jesus spoke. And Jesus said we would be judged by the words He has spoken.
S: I liked the way Rob Lacey emphasized Isaiah 9:6. “It’s a boy! And He’s ours! He’ll grow up to carry the government on His shoulders. His titles will include Wonderful Wise One, Awesome God, Father Who Stays, Peace Prince. His tranquil rule will just keep on spreading. He’ll sit on David’s throne and run a kingdom full of justice and goodness right into eternity. God’s burning enthusiasm will see this is done.”
L: And we say Amen! We are pleased to be able to join with you as brothers in Christ to proclaim the everlasting Gospel!