Sunday, May 23, 2004

Biblical Authority

This time Anita van Ingen emailed me:
Hi. I'm a reader of your blog, but let me qualify that. I have not been reading many blogs lately because of a retreat from my spiritual journey, and now, I have many unanswered questions.

If you would, blog or think about what it means when we say the Bible is inerrant.

First, although I have a high view of scriptural authority, I don't consider the Bible inerrant or error-free either in terms of the actual text or as to the text's explicit or even implicit meaning. These days I usually tell people,

"I have a very high view of the Bible as a Divine Word (=a Word from Heaven) and I have an equally high view of the church's scriptures as a human word (=from this created earth), with all the ambiguity that implies."

With Martin Luther I agree although the biblical witness informs us and transforms us as individuals and as a church, with Luther I also agree all parts of scripture definitely aren't equal in value, and we need to discern the *GOSPEL* - "what preaches Christ" - in both the Old and New Covenant scriptures, and we need to separate out a whole lot of not-essentials and un-essentials from that Christocentric core. To say the same thing in slightly different words, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, is the supreme interpreter of the written, recorded word of God.

Despite my high view of the Bible's authority...

I'll again insist, not the Bible, but Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, is our final authority, the ultimate interpreter of the written word of scripture, so in Christ our biblical authority is dynamic: still-living and still-speaking!

Since you've been reading my theology blog and maybe my other blogs too, you realize I'm a theologian so I think like a theologian, meaning (for me!) I think theologically 24/7! But because I'm a practicing, committed Christian as well, baptized into Good Friday and into Easter Dawn, when I'm reading scripture devotionally or practically, I need to get beyond "What did this mean then?" and ask "What does this mean now," and, "is this passage a Word from Heaven for me and my world? Does it summon me to action? Or maybe not?" And of course I need to ask that responsible and sometimes even a bit over-responsible human, "WHY? . . . is this my answer?!"

Anita, thanks so much for asking this question!

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