Book Without a Title

There is a book which has often been on the list of best sellers. It was and is found in many homes; it is found in public places. It is freely distributed. It is among the best known books in the world, found in more languages than any other. Yet, strange to say, the book has never had a title. When one quotes from it everyone knows immediately what the book is. It is simply referred to as The Book, The Book of Books, Biblia, or Bible. It is assumed that everyone would know which book is meant.

Among the many changes people in the last of this twentieth century insist on is that this, too, must be changed. The book must have a title. That immediately makes it more relevant, more like other book.s. No man today would think of putting a book on the market without some sort of title to identify it. Whether you include a reference to the author or not—that is not the important thing. A title it must have. In this connection it is equally strange that the book is so often split—only the New Testament part is given. But even that must have some special title.

Good News for Modern Man – One of the first titles to strike popular fancy was: Good News for Modern Man. Just why modem man had to be set apart from all other men and ages was never made clear. And who may be called a modern man has never been specified.

Are all men in the world today modern? or only the civilized nations? Or in what way are they modern? more intelligent? more perceptive and understanding? Or are they less sinful? Is modern man not included when God included all under sin? Has John 3:16 made such a change that John 3:36 no longer applies? And if it still applies what is so uniquely good about the news for modern man?

The Bible itself indeed speaks of Good News—but adds specifically and beautifully that it is for all people. There is nothing exclusive about that. As God has indeed included all under sin He also sends the Good News of Great Joy to all people. Thank God for that.

Reach Out – Another very popular title is: Reach Out. This is simply a way of glorifying the minor to obscure the major. No wonder the Christian religion is losing itself in the horizontal The primary, the most glorious fact about the Bible is that it is God Reaching Down. The whole world is lost in the darkness of sin. It is as a land of death; yes, indeed with still plenty of noise and commotion. Nonetheless, death reigns over all; and, unless God reaches down to intervene, all must end in death and in weeping and wailing. The Bible is first of all God reaching down.

Thank God He did intervene. That is our real Bible. That stands on the foreground; that is primary. He reached down in revelation to make Himself known, even sending down the Christ to declare the Father unto us. But apparently this idea of help from the outside is just as obnoxious to man today as it has always been. So he quite naturally obscures what God is doing to magnify what he can do himself, and for himself, and for others. The secondary is made primary. And then in time the primary will be entirely obliterated.

I know, the Bible does tell us very emphatically to reach out to all the world. But only because God has reached down through His Word, in His Son, by His Spirit. And we reach out only with that which God has given from above—ever making sure that this is basic: God is reaching down to man.

Even then, the first thing for us is not to reach out but to reach up. God reaches down, and the sinner reaches up: Save, Lord. And as many as call upon the name of the Lord are saved. And then the reaching out of the saved sinner is really not simply a reaching out to others. Rather it is a reaching down to those who are in the grip of sin. Not that he reaches down in a “holier than thou” attitude; he knows it is all of grace. But he reaches down as in Christ’s shoes: 0 be ye reconciled to God! Considering all the facts, we must conclude that this title is wholly inappropriate.

The Living Bible – Then there is the popular edition called: The Living Bible. Christians have often been accused of bibliolatry, No more idolatrous example of bibliolatry is to be found anywhere than in ascribing such a title to the book. A living Word—Yes! The Word by which we are begotten again unto everlasting life as by incorruptible seed—Yes! But the book a living book -No! The letter killeth—it is the Spirit who maketh alive those who are dead through their sins and their trespasses.

And when you consider that, actually what the paraphrase gives us is not the Word as given by God through prophets and apostles but one man’s rewriting and revising of what has been recorded, the title is made the more objectionable, It is supposed to make the Bible more understandable and easier to read. All it does is make it more palatable and, perhaps, more appealing to man with his itching ears.

The Greatest Is Love – By far the most objectionable title is the one printed in beautiful and bold letters: The Greatest is Love. Here apparently you have the very words of Scripture in direct quotation. However, Scripture is quoted just as satan quoted it when he came to Eve to tempt her in the garden. Actually the Bible says: the greatest of these (referring to faith, hope and love) is love, No one has any argument with this statement of Scripture. Here three cardinal virtues are compared, and the conclusion is divinely inspired. Of these three the greatest is love. But to use that statement by itself, in the abstract, is like flying right in the face of the truth, going directly contrary to the Scriptures themselves. The Bible says the Greatest is GOD!

This transition from The Greatest is GOD to the Greatest is LOVE may sound very simple and innocent. Does not the Bible itself say that God is love? Then why not say it: The Greatest is LOVE? Simply because although it is gloriously true that Cod is love, it is not true in any shape, form or manner that Love is God. It can easily be understood why men would like to have it that way. Then men are free to live as they will and do what they will. They may steal and justify themselves by saying it was done in love for some needy person; they may commit adultery and call it love. What crimes against God are being committed in the name of “Love,” What truths of God are being eliminated from the Bible in the name of “Love.” Somehow it is very easy to stretch an impersonal virtue and justify any type of conduct. When we consider what sins arc being committed in the name of “Love,” what truths of Scripture are being obscured or eliminated in the name of “Love,” we begin to understand why this can rightly be called the age of the “love-heresy.”

The Bible speaks very clearly. God is great! God is greater! God is greatest! Never allow an impersonal virtue, no matter how noble or good to be substituted for the one and only, the true and eternal GOD.

Anthony A. Koning (emeritus), now living in Jensison, Michigan, has served Christian Reformed Churches in Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan.