Monday, 28 April 2008

Scripture, Inspiration and Tradition

I suggest that a theory of scripture, biblical inspiration and canon should take into account the following six points:

  1. The Christian movement predates the Bible. Christians had to write our NT documents, and and‘the church’ chooses the documents to be included in the Scriptures.

  2. Key doctrines communicated to through the ecumenical councils are integral to the Christian reading of Scripture. The heretics used Scripture, and apparently quite successfully. And in the christological debates, a key term that separated orthodoxy from heterodoxy was 'homoousios' (same being, in relation to the Father and the Son), which is not a word used in Scripture in that context.

  3. We receive the Bible from those previously in the faith, and it does not come fresh to us but accompanied by interpretive clues, rules, teaching, etc.

  4. We interpret Scripture, and we encourage translations (and all translations are in some way interpretive), and consider Jesus to be the Word.

  5. Without the Bible the faith would have been lost long ago.

  6. Without the continuing inspiration of the Spirit the faith is lost. (Even if we still had the Bible. The Scriptures are, in this respect, insufficient.)
Some key issues arising from these six points are:
  • The relationship between inspired community (Church) and inspired text. And I mean this pre- and post-Bible.

  • The relationship between Scripture, Creeds, and Church.

  • The crucial place of the Bible in the transmission of the faith.

  • The relationship between the 'Word of God' and 'God's word written'.

  • The sufficiency and insufficiency of the Bible.

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