Nate said: "Scripture Too Elevated..."

In response to the last post, my friend Nate said:

I find Scripture to be elevated to heights far too lofty in Christian - namely protestant - circles. We expect the Bible to be self authenticating, but in Scripture, this idea is never found...what a circular argument.

Other ideas are circular... Sola Scriptura, the authority of Scripture.

Christ never spoke the words, "the books of the New Testament are going to be Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc...," nor did he ever say, "The words that will someday fill the canon are to be your sole authority for interpreting right from wrong."

I am sure Christ foresaw the slow changes that would take place in language and culture over 2,000 years... changes that would cause ineptness in understanding Scripture...

So, what do you think? Is Nate right? I find his comment refreshing - even freeing - but what do we do with some of these verses (among others):

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...

Matthew 22:29
Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

What was the historical/cultural context of these words? What was the understanding of the speakers or writers? Obviously, New Testament figures and writers did not see their letters as "Canonical Scripture." Jesus clearly meant to refer back to the Jewish OT. And David was bipolar, probably manic when he wrote Psalm 119. So who knows what he was thinking ;)

In Phyllis Tickle's The Great Emergence, she reminds us that in many ways, Christians traded a human Pope for a "paper Pope" during the Protestant Reformation. We over-elevated Scripture in response to over-elevating a man.

Are the current, modern Evangelical approaches to Scripture and Biblical authority inherently circular? "Neo-magical" superstitions? Misplaced (misdirected) faith?


Josh Mueller said...

The problem has never been an OVER-elevation of Scriptures but the attempt to seize control over them rather than allowing them to radically mold our thinking and acting. We assume we already know exactly what the Bible is and what it says, and accordingly we attempt to press it in all sorts of molds that turn out to be unable to describe or contain it.

The Matthew 22 passage highlights exactly that ignorance. And I believe its reiterating the fact that the Scriptures are indeed self-authenticating but not because we said so or because there would be an actual need to define its scope and authority.

It still is the instrument and power of God because He sovereignly uses it to lead us to Himself - a place where our words fail us and where all our theologies crumble.

All we really have are signposts and humble confessions - where God has touched us through this word and changed us, there is no need for airtight theological argumentation or much talk about the Bible in the first place.

Theology then automatically becomes doxology, or else we've not really heard and have not been touched.

Peter said...

Josh, I'm assuming I know the answer, but do you think that the way we are moved and "touched" is radically different from how other spiritual (or even artistic) texts move or touch us?

If so, is it an issue of "kind" (or type) or "intensity" (or amount).

Josh Mueller said...

No, I think the differentiation itself is already highly artificial. I totally agree with Rob Bell on this point: EVERYTHING is spiritual! So even non-biblical texts and their impact on us are nonetheless God-related.

The special contribution of the biblical narrative is its potential to help us understand that connection and give us a grid or matrix of interpretation to also enable us to discern what is life-giving and life-destroying in that context.

Peter said...

Awesome Josh, thanks for the clarification! I, too, believe the "spiritual vs. secular" paradigm is a false one.

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