For thousands of years, attention has been focussed on items associated with Jesus or His apostles. Take, for example, fragments of the cross currently housed in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. These items have been worshipped since the earliest centuries of the churches history, reaching their highest status when officially sanctioned at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787AD when it was decided that every church should have some relic at the altar.
Now, much attention is being given to some bone fragments that have been found which are believed to belong to John the Baptist. Clearly, the artefact means something to some people as it is gaining quite a bit of media coverage. Why is the adoration of a relic so popular? Well, because the Roman Catholic (as well as Greek & Russian Orthodox) church believes that the possession of relics proves God’s favour. They believe that through the relics God imparts His presence and His blessing. But the problem with this is that the authority for our faith is not based on these things (either they are truly belonging to the person or not). The Christians faith should be based on the fact that God has spoken to us in His Word. We are to trust the truthfulness of the written Word of God, not the existence of some bones, authentic or not.
Before we get too bogged down in the matter of whether the bones are authentic or not … with respect, that is not the issue. It’s not really a question of authenticity. It has to do with what people put their belief in – God’s Word or relics? Of course we can idolise the Bible and use the Bible in the same way people use relics. This is equally as wrong. We as Christians are to find happiness and satisfaction in the words that the Bible speaks and the person that the words point to rather than in the paper and cloth than bind them. Having said that, the Bible is sufficient for this! The Bible
If archaeologists later agree that the bone fragments are indeed from John the Baptist then that will be of great interest to Christians, but this should add nothing to our confidence in the Bible. If the fragments are found to be authentic or, most likely, if there is no agreement amongst scholars at all, this will not take anything away from the truthfulness, authority, and sufficiency of the Bible.
Christian friends, our faith is built on hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17) and whilst it is most interesting to postulate about relics, our confidence is in the Bible as the Word of God, not in bones.