vendredi 19 août 2011

Intuitive theology: the Bible

It's been a while since I posted here, but I thought this might be a good opportunity to take stock of where I stand on some key christian beliefs these days.

I could do with writing a piece on my understanding of theology and why I've entitled this post "intuitive theology", but I thought I'd start off by setting down what I think about the inspiration of Scripture.

First off, I'm pretty convinced that Scripture without the Spirit is useless. Paul talks about it being a dead letter without the Spirit. Jesus reproaches those who search the Scriptures but won't come to him for life. So the Scriptures in and of themselves aren't enough.

Next, I don't like the idea of equating Scripture with "the Word of God". The Psalms talk about "your word…" but I think they're referring above all to the Law, which, unlike much of the rest of Scripture (such as the Psalms, for instance, as it now occurs to me!) is indeed presented as God's words – at least what God said to Moses. What's more, it's Jesus who's referred to in the Bible as the "Word of God', and that fits pretty well with the first point above.

I'm sure God speaks through the Bible by means of his Spirit, but I think that going from there to calling the Scriptures is an unhelpful shortcut.

I do believe that God has acted sovereignly to preserve the integrity of the Scriptures and make sure that the canon we have today is the one we're supposed to have – but I also believe that he chose to do so through the intermediary of humans, with all that implies.

Perhaps the most significant implication for me of this view is that I increasingly take the Bible much more as descriptive rather than prescriptive – particularly as regards Acts and the epistles. Rather than setting out a blueprint for how church and christian practices ought to be for the rest of the church age, I increasingly see them as a narrative of how the first christians attempted to organise themselves and make sense of what the Spirit was doing in and through them. It would be stupid not to learn from their example (as Paul says in of the Old Testament when writing to the Corinthians), but that doesn't mean we need to be bound by it.

That will do for now. It remains to be seen whether more will be forthcoming!