Most religions are alike in a number of ways. For instance, like is the case in Islam, Christian faith and practice is founded on a number of rules, principles, and guidelines -- most of which are derived from the holy bible. With regard to Muslims, it is the Quran that acts as a compass as far as the faith of those who subscribe to Islam is concerned. This text highlights how the bible is a norm for the Christian faith.
To understand how the bible is a norm for the Christian faith, we need to first define the term "norm" as used in this context. In basic terms, for something to be regarded a "norm," it should ideally be used as a basis or reference point for something else. For instance, for a structure to hold up in construction work, a norm could be used in an attempt to ensure that the angles of all the joints are proper. For the bible to be referred to as a norm, it must be a reference point by which something else is either judged or measured. Branding the bible a norm for the Christian faith therefore means that this particular holy book is the basis of Christian faith -- a standard of sorts for the assessment or evaluation of Christian faith. Effectively, everything we as human beings do must measure up to its standards. This is particularly the case given that from time to time; Christians find themselves at risk of being carried away by temporal trends. It should however be noted that it is highly unlikely for those who live by the teachings of the scriptures to get swayed by new-found wisdom.
To begin with, the bible is a norm for the Christian faith because it is essentially God's word to Christians. As it is pointed out in 2 Timothy 3:16, "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16, New International Version). In that regard therefore, the bible should be seen as a medium through which God speaks to his people. Over time, numerous pieces of evidence have been presented in an attempt to demonstrate that the bible is indeed the word of God. For instance, it should be noted that although the bible was authored in different locations by authors from different walks of life, it has no contradictions whatsoever. It also remains unified from cover to cover. This is sufficient evidence to back up the bible's divine origin. It is important to note that regardless of its origin, Christians know that reading or studying God's word is not enough. A true believer in the said word must be ready to apply it in his or her daily life. James reminds us that in addition to being hearers of the word, we must be doers as well (James 1:22-25). James likens the mere hearer of the word to an individual observing himself in the mirror for after he is done with observing himself, such an individual is more likely than not to forget how he looked like, i.e. what kind of a man he was. The doer cannot however be likened to the forgetful hearer for he not only hears the word but also applies it to his life. According to James, it is the doer and not the hearer that will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22-25). Given that it contains God's message to Christians, the bible should be seen as a measure or basis of Christian faith.
Next, the bible is also regarded the basis for Christian faith because it contains instructions for life. Through its numerous passages, the bible clearly outlines the various rules by which Christians should live. It contains directions on how to relate with God as well as instructions on how to treat others. Christians trust that given that the bible is a manifestation of what God has to say, the rules and standards contained therein are meant to benefit God's creation and not to harm it. Handed over to Moses by God, the Ten Commandments are an example of biblical standards by which all Christians should abide. Through the Ten Commandments, God introduces himself to the human race as a Supreme Being interested in guiding the faith of followers. This he does by outlining and recommending a set of rules by which individuals should live. It is particularly important to note that each commandment has a unique role as far as the advancement of the faith of Christians is concerned. For instance, the key task of the First Commandment is to guide Christians towards the one true God. In this case, Christians are advised to trust the One True God and have faith in him alone. Similarly, the Second Commandment warns Christians against replacing the faith they have in the One True God. The relevance of this particular commandment cannot be overstated especially in today's society where so many other items including but not limited to money threaten to replace the faith people have in God.
The bible is also used by many Christian denominations as the basis for their rituals and practices. By relying on biblical practices, Christians are able to express their unwavering faith in God. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church routinely makes use of the Holy Eucharist to amongst other things commemorate the suffering of Christ on the cross. It is instructive to note that the reenactment of this particular ordinance or sacrament is in accordance with the instructions Jesus Christ himself gave at the last supper. According to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, Jesus Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist (Arinze, 2006). With that in mind, this particular sacrament helps in the unification of Christ with his followers and it is through such unification that Christian faith is both fostered and deepened. While the example I give above largely relates to the Catholic Church, it should be noted that all Christian churches practice certain rituals in one form or another. In most cases, these rituals are derived from biblical practices and teachings. In the words of Wustenberg (2009), "the Christian representation of faith needs the aid of ritualized self-presentation…." (p. 309). Indeed, from the past, rituals have played a central role in the enhancement of Christian faith. As I have already pointed out, these rituals are largely derived from biblical teachings and they include but they are not limited to fasting, being baptized, attending church, receiving the Holy Communion, etc. Christians who fully embrace these religious practices and rituals benefit immensely especially as far as their advancement in the way of spiritual perfection is concerned. Baptism is particularly important given that Jesus was categorical that those who believed in him should also be baptized. In the book of Mark, Jesus points out that those who are baptized and believe in him as the messiah will not be condemned (Mark 16:16). From a critical perspective therefore, the relevance of apostolic rituals cannot be overstated when it comes to the advancement of Christian faith. It is the biblical basis of these apostolic practices and rituals that effectively makes the bible a norm for the Christian faith.
By virtue of containing the teachings of Jesus Christ, the bible also serves as a guide by which Christian faith is judged and/or measured. Via the bible, Jesus urges us to abide by his teachings. As he points out, "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Mark 13:31). This is one of the clearest biblical indicators of the importance of Christ's teachings as a guide to Christians. From the onset, it is important to note that to Christians, Jesus is truly the Son of God sent from heaven by God the Father to come and save mankind. According to the well-known biblical scripture in the book of John, those who trust and believe in the Son of God sent from heaven above are guaranteed everlasting life (John 3:16). Christians are convinced that by believing in the birth, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they will benefit from God's promises. For this reason, Christians not only believe in the Son's teachings but they also do all they can to adhere to the said teachings. Based on this, one could conclude by saying that Christ's teachings are critical as far as Christian faith is concerned. By extension therefore, the bible could be regarded a norm for the Christian faith.
The bible also provides the modern Christian with a wide variety of examples regarding faith to learn from. Christians can therefore have something to relate to as they move forward. Indeed, with each story having its own unique theme and teachings, Christians can benchmark their behavior against the said stories. To further explain my assertion, I will make use of two biblical stories whose teachings are of great relevance as far as Christian faith is concerned. In the book of Matthew,…