Monday, February 01, 2010

Holy Scripture as the living and active Word of God

Just finished witing a paper to be given at a Ministers' Fraternal later this month. Here are some words from the intro:

What I want and try and do in this paper is sketch out a theological account of Holy Scripture. What do I mean by that? My contention is that Evangelical treatments of the Bible sometimes fail to place Holy Scripture in its proper theological context. We focus on the production of the Bible in terms of its inspiration. We analyse some of the attributes of Scripture such as inerrancy or perspicuity. That’s all well and good. But in focusing so closely on individual aspects of Holy Scripture we can sometimes fail to see the big picture. We need to stand back and ask, the first order question, ‘What is the relationship between God, Holy Scripture and the Church?’

Should we see the Bible simply as a human book that speaks of the church's consciousness of the divine (the Liberal approach)? Or would it be better to regard Scripture as a God-given text that the church must seek to understand and obey as best it can (the Biblicist or Fundamentalist approach)? Both positions are obviously reductionistic. The first fails to take seriously Scripture's own claim that it is the living and enduring Word of God. The second recognises the divine origin of the Bible, but does not give sufficient attention to the place of Scripture in communicative action of the triune God.

How then may we understand Scripture in relation to God's self-revelatory presence and his saving purposes for the Church? That is the big question that we cannot afford to ignore as pastors and preachers. After all we are Ministers of God, Ministers of the Word and Ministers of the Church. In a sense all our work is concerned with triangulating the relationship between God, his Word and his people. If we should focus on God and Church to the detriment of the Word, the result will be mysticism or worldly pragmatism. Concentration on God and the Word to the exclusion of the Church forgets that the Word was given in order to found and build up the Church. If all our attention is on the Bible and the Church we have lost sight of the living and active God who has called the Church into existence by his Word.

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