Scripture in Theology
Recently I have kind of been made fun of because of some of my comments on Scripture and how I approach their interpretation. So I am going to write this blog post to kind of define some of my views of Scripture and revelation so I don’t get the awkward “You don’t believe in Scripture” look anymore.
First, I believe that the Holy Scriptures are useful and are foundational for the Christian life. Without the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament documents the Christian religion has no footing. In saying this I want to also affirm that Scripture is a witness to God. Notice I say witness and not revelation. I take here a Barthian (Karl Barth) view of Scripture and divine revelation. Scripture is not the divine revelation within itself, but rather is a witness to the divine revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the full revelation of who God is. Scripture in turn points and reveals Christ to us. This in turn means that Scripture can contain errors in “factual” historical accounts. In saying that the Bible is not a fact book. It is not a book of propositions that we can probe to fit our specific theological doctrines. It is humans interacting with the divine revelation of God and interpreting it through their own understandings. Scripture is interpreted. Life is interpreted. This is the basics of hermeneutics. You can’t read the Bible without interpreting it. The early church knew this that is why they developed allegorical interpretation along with the host of other interpretations. Now I am not saying we go back to an allegorical reading of the Scriptures. If you read Augustine and some of his crazy understandings of Scripture you will understand what I mean. What I am trying to get at is that Scripture just like the rest of our life is an act of interpretation. In saying that we can have differentiating views of how the Scriptures speak to our lives. Even my oh so favorite theologian Calvin (That is sarcasm if you didn’t get that) had a strong view that the Holy Spirit led the interpretation of Scripture. Scripture is not meant to be fact book or a science book. It is a living breathing Book that reveals what the people of Israel and the early church thought about God. That doesn’t mean that Scripture is the end all of all doctrinal ideas. Let me expand on that idea.
I uphold something usually referred to as progressive revelation. Basically this means that I think that God continues to open the eyes of humanity through there own studies and faculties to new understandings of who God is. In saying that it doesn’t mean that we can have just any interpretation. I strongly believe that if you claim to be apart of Christian faith then the Scriptures are the starting point from which theology must begin and in some ways end. I can’t for instance say that God is hateful God who just wants to damn everyone (I mean everyone even the elect, I am not making a jab at Calvinists here I promise.) to Hell. That I would say goes against Scripture in 1 John saying that God is love. Yet I think it is perfectly acceptable to say that God suffers which in the early church would be considered heresy, not because the Bible said this outright, but rather because of much of the Greek worldview that Christianity was placed into said that God or the divine could not suffer. God suffering is just one example of how one could interpret progressive revelation.
So there are just a few ideas about Scripture. Feel free to leave me a comment. I would love this to be a discussion.