Friday, May 10, 2013

Prodigal Christianity (5) Scriptures

David Fitches’s response at his ordination interview when asked if he believed in the inerrancy of scripture is worth the price of the book. It is a pity he does not have a photo of the expressions on the faces of the interviewing committee. He could have added $10 to the price of the book.

His response was that the expression is too liberal. Get Prodigal Christianity and read the story and his explanation of what this means.

Getting on to the substance of the chapter, this signpost begins by noting that the modern world is hostile to the scriptures.

The Bible is nothing more than a cultural artefact; it actively disdained when offered as an authority in the public realm.

Add to this the fact that our culture is suspicious toward interpretation. The automatic rejoinder to any authoritative statement is the proverbial, “ Well that’s your interpretation.”

Authority in general has a bad name.
They note that many Christians trying to defend the scriptures end up undermining their position.
From uniting the inspiration of the scripture to the scientific methods comes a concern for inerrancy and a focus on propositions.

Many pastors and leaders have sought to defend the Bible according to the most accepted of all standards in Western society: science. We have been tempted to deploy the scientific method to prove the authority of scripture.

We inadvertently put a human authority above the bible.

Scripture, when viewed that way can seem like a static collection of divinely perfect scientific propositions.
Some have reacted to this approach by over emphasising the human nature of scripture and the importance of personal experience, but his does not work either.
Each approach accommodates to a different cultural attitudes. One side capitulates to scientific rationality and the other to a “hermeneutics of suspicion”
Fitch and Holsclaw say that the authority of scripture is something we receive, not something we control. When we preach the gospel, the scripture receives its authority from be connected to God’s mission.
Scripture is not some great ideological document that seeks to dominate or control.

We must understand the scriptures authority as principle component through which the kingdom comes.

We should rarely find ourselves defending the bibles authority. Rather its authority becomes undeniable when its compelling reality becomes visible among us. The story of God as displayed in a people speaks for itself.

We approach scripture first not to analyse it or subject it to study as on object, but rather to allow ourselves to be immersed in it.
They quote NT Wright.
The authority of Scripture makes the sense it does within the world of God’s kingdom, at every level for the cosmic and political through to the personal.
I have always felt that the concept of inerrancy claim is not helpful. My thoughts on the authority of scriptures are as follows.
  • The scriptures were written by people. They used their own vocabulary and style, and they did not realise that they were writing scriptures. They put stuff in that is irrelevant to us.

  • According to 2 Tim 3:16, the scriptures are God-breathed (theopneustos). We do not fully know what that means, but I believe that the Holy Spirit got everything into the scriptures that he wanted in. The scriptures contain everything that he wanted to about God and the world.

  • When interpreting the scriptures, I am not so worried about understanding the author’s intent. I always want to know what the Holy Spirit intended . I try to read the scriptures listening to him. Reading and listening at the same time are important. (We sometimes need to be in a group to hear clearly).

  • The Psalms teach that loving the law leads to wisdom. I find that loving the scriptures leads to insight (we must not worship them). The more I read them the more insights I get.

  • Spurgeon said that you should defend the scriptures the same way that you defend a caged lion. You let it loose.

  • All people and all cultures have blind spots. My culture has blinds spots, but I do not know what they are, because I am part of my culture. I have some blind spots that cause me to miss part of what God is saying, or to get some things wrong, but I do not know what they are. It is really hard to escape from our culture and see it as God sees it. They best we can do is to read humbly and be as open as possible to the challenges of the Holy Spirit.

  • The Holy Spirit chose to use verbal revelation. He could have given us twenty pictures, but he did not. He could have waited until the modern age, and given us a movie or an audio-visual, but he did not. The Holy Spirit chose to use words, so words are important. This means that we need to listen to the words carefully, but in the context of the whole message.

  • The scriptures should be read as they are written. The epistles are more propositional than other parts of the scriptures. The gospels contain more story, with a bit of proposition. Much of the Old Testament describes events, although the law is much more propositional. Propositional writing is a clear precise way to communicate. Communicating in this way is fine, as long as we understand the limitations.

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