Pietists are people who love the Bible. It is the word of God. The Evangelical Covenant Church growing out of the pietistic movement makes this affirmation: We affirm the centrality of the word of God. We believe the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct. The dynamic, transforming power of the word of God directs the church and the life of each Christian.
The Bible, through the work of the Spirit, is a dynamic reality that transforms people. The union of Word and Spirit is a key evangelical theme. The Spirit inspires the Word. The Spirit makes the Word come alive in a person and in a congregation. The Word by the Spirit convicts of sin, draws people to Christ and leads people towards maturity.
Love of the Bible moves beyond any stale or rigid concept. The Bible is our authority. So we read it, study it, seek to follow it as it shapes us, by the Spirit, into the image of Christ.
Spener wrote: Thought should be given to a more extensive use of the word of God among us. We know that by nature we have no good in us. If there is to be any good in us, it must be brought about by God. To this end the word of God is the powerful means, since faith must be enkindled through the gospel… . The more at home the word of God is among us, the more we shall bring about faith and its fruits.
Pietists gather around the Bible because here they know they meet the living God. Early Covenanters, and still Covenanters today, gather around the Word and ask: Where is it Written?, as they seek to discern how we are believe and act. Sisters and brothers huddle around the Word and become a community of learning, truly expecting God to work.
When I was growing up, I was taught to honor my Bible. Don’t put in on the floor. Take good care of it. We don’t want to overdo such activities, and yet we in the West have become so passe about the Bible. It is so accessible to us in print and electronically that we take it for granted. Christians in other parts of the world, especially those who suffer persecution, cherish the Word in a way we should recover.
In an interview with Kristi Tippet (On Being) Los Angeles rabbi Sharon Brous says: I love when I’m studying and I cry and I see a teardrop fall into my book. I feel like that’s the holiest act…. A pietist would understand what she is saying.
We can so easily get caught up in the objective study of Scripture that we lose our sense of wonder. The Bible is a book to be studied vigorously, but we must not fall into the trap of simply putting the Bible on the operating room table and surgically dissect it. While we study the Word, correctly understand the Word, the Word is also living and dynamic pointing us toward Christ and helping us to be his disciples. Hebrews 4:12 … God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions.
May we come to love the Bible more–and let it point us towards Christ and lead us on a path of Christian maturity.