Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shibboleth #1: "But the Bible says...."

Gabcast! Learning Church (Mersea)

A learning Church session: Shibboleth #1: "But the Bible says..."

Click 'full post' for my notes.

“But the Bible says…”
Or: why I don’t understand ‘sola scriptura’

“Previously, on 24…”
Need to distinguish green area from what I object to
‘evangelicalism’ includes both
Green area = ‘Scripture’, ‘Scriptural perspective’, ‘Scripturalists’ etc
What I wish to interrogate: “Modern Protestantism”
This is a conversation within evangelicalism

What is Modern Protestantism?
Offshoot of Northern European Christianity
“Modern” – capital M, ie NOT ‘contemporary’
Contains implicit value judgements
Embedded in ‘liberalism’
Fundamentalism as the Siamese twin

Are ‘Modern Protestants’ saved?
Wrong question (consider Gandhi)
Issue is about sound doctrine
Is the view ‘weight bearing’?

Scriptural mysticism
Mysticisms in each area
Zacchaeus was a small man
Read with the expectation of meeting Christ
The incarnate word is not the written word – the written word testifies outside of itself
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5.39-40)

Two interrogations of ‘sola Scriptura’
‘Sola Scriptura’ – you only need the green area
From reason (red) – is it coherent?
The plain sense of scripture
From tradition (blue) – is it consistent with the faith handed down from the apostles?
What place does the community have in interpretation?

The doctrine of inerrancy
“We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit. We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.” (Chicago Statement)

Mark 2.26
Copying errors?

Matthew 13.31
Cf ‘not one iota’…
Local culture of the time

2 Samuel 8.4
RSV: “David took from him one thousand seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot-soldiers….”
NIV: “David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers….”
Why? 1 Chron 18.4: “David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers…”

Peter’s denials
John 13.38 vs Mark 14.72

The Road to Damascus
Acts 9.7 vs 22.9 vs 26.14
Et cetera et cetera

What is at stake here?
Is it:
Either Scripture is true in every conceivable sense
OR God does not exist….?!?!?!?!
Or are there other ways to read Scripture?
Protestant neurosis
individual interpretation, means all the weight on the individual
what if I get it wrong?! Oh doom!
Hence the great emotional tension

Leave the microscope behind
Sieving the sea
Accepts Modernist epistemology
Ie what sort of thing knowledge is (propositional, abstracted from community)
What sort of knowledge is seen as valuable
Inevitable consequence is fundamentalism – Scripture as scientific text book

Sola Scriptura?
The “plain sense” of Scripture
Impact of technology and general literacy
Different ways to explain

Which interpretation?
Eg New Perspective on Paul
Scripture or 16th century interpretation of Scripture?

What is revelation?
Inspired human witness

Let’s consider the canon
‘All Scripture is god-breathed…’ – refers to OT – and not to our OT
Progressive discrimination
Canon “formed” in 4th Century AD
Church experienced most important and formative growth WITHOUT the “Bible”

"Before there was even Scripture, there was the faith; the early church did not set the limits of the scriptural canon as the paramount task of nascent Christianity. Its first goal was to settle the content of the faith, and it did this using means other than the Bible... the early church would never have restricted the term 'canon' to the Bible alone... Each element in the canonical tradition of the church has a part to play in the whole, and the canonization of Scripture took place within this whole." (Craig Allert)

Matthew (nobody knows…)
Doctrine of the Trinity
How to resist Arianism?

Bible significantly post-dates:
Bishops and the hierarchy
Centrality of weekly communion
Creedal confessions (orthodoxy)

Tradition and community
Scripture is itself a tradition
Faith comes by hearing
Received by a community of faith
Digested by the community of faith
Taught by the community of faith

Consensus fidelium
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”
2 Timothy 3.14
Every tradition has its structure of authority
“But the Bible says…” means “But my community says the Bible says…”
Doesn’t mean magisterium

What IS inspiration? How does the Holy Spirit work?
The spirit gives, or the spirit is?
(ie alongside or within? Cf Prophets)
We need to breath that breath (Adam)
A spirit which inhabits Scripture
We need to inhabit Scripture
You don’t drink a swimming pool – you swim in it

What is the highest value?
What is the Word of God?
(ie where is Jesus?)
Chicago Statement: “We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God”
John Stott: “the really distinctive emphasis is on Christ. I want to shift conviction from a book… to a person. As Jesus himself said, the Scriptures bear witness to me. Their main function is to witness to Christ.”

John’s gospel
“There are some things you cannot bear now…”
Spirit leads into all truth
“…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20.31)

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