Monday, February 4, 2008

Hitting the books

As I've been trying to walk it out down here until the Lord Jesus comes back, I've had to do some mulling over the role of Scripture in the Christian life. This is not supposed to be a great thesis on the subject: this is just my personal position. Take it as my personal confession on the subject. 

First, I accept the Bible (66 books) as the inerrant, authoritative Word of God. I think the Nicene Council was essentially correct about what constitutes Scripture, but I absolutely affirm that the Scripture was the Scripture before the Nicene Council. The Nicene Council did not make those books Scripture, it simply recognized what was already true.

Second, it is impossible to prove that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Either you accept that or you don't. I can show you any number of evidences that it's true, but I can't actually prove it. But then, I'm not going to answer to you for my life down here, when all's said and done. 

Third, if the Bible really is what God has said, then it trumps everything else. It doesn't really matter what anyone thinks on a subject: the question is what God has said about it. It is the final test. 

Fourth, the Bible might well be silent on a subject. Get over it. We need to stop trying to read something into Scripture about whatever-it-is-we're-interested-in-at-the-moment. If Scripture is silent on something, then we need to acknowledge that.

Fifth, the Bible was written to be understood. This has been the hardest point to really finalize in my mind. It seems the vast majority of Christianity sees Scripture as something that can only be understood through layers of commentary.  But (and I realize this could reduce to a circular argument) the narratives of Christ commenting on Scripture to the people of His day generally reduce to Him telling them they missed the "plain reading"---the "obvious point"---of a passage. He never took them to task for missing some mystical meaning, nor for using the wrong commentaries: He took them to task for not simply obeying the plain and simple sense of the passage. 

Sixth, the hardest part of obeying the Scripture is to trust that it's sufficient. It's one thing to acknowledge it's inerrant or authoritative; it's quite another to acknowledge its sufficiency. I think it strange how frequently we trust in creeds, dogmas, catechisms, theologies, doctrines, and commentaries when we have the Bible. I admit it's not the easiest book to understand, and it can take some time to compare Scripture with Scripture to figure out how a passage applies, or what it means. But really, if God has spoken, it's worth the time and effort to listen.

I think a lot of this blog really reduces to the question of whether what "we" (for a non-constant value of "we") are doing lines up with Scripture.  

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