Friday, March 17, 2006

Reading the Bible, VII: Authority

Just what is the Bible for?
The authority of Scripture within the Church... cannot be reduced in some legalistic manner in terms of supposedly inerrant propositional truths or supposedly absolute rules; the authority of Scripture within the Church consists rather in its recollection of God's mediated speaking through this text and its prayerful expectation of God's future mediated speaking through this text.

John E. Colwell, Promise and Presence: An Exploration of Sacramental Theology, 103.
I think Colwell's got a good point, because I don't find that the Scriptures want, on the whole, to be considered in the catagory of "propositional truths" and "absolute rules." Are they in there? Certainly. But the Bible does not seek to be "timeless truths for living," but rather the foundational text for the Communities of the Resurrection, the firstfruits of the recreation and redemption of the entire world.
These texts are foundational to the life of the church, not on the legalistic and biblicistic grounds that they possess an inherant, absolute authority to which we are bound to submit, but on the grounds that in them we encounter the particular life upon which the communal life of the church is founded; the life that is the light not only of the church but also of the world. For that reason and in that sense, preaching, worship and sacraments must conform to these texts.

Frances Watson, Text and Truth: Redefining Biblical Theology, 1. Cited in Colwell.
I think Watson's bit, meanwhile, stops short of where it needs to go. I do think that we are indeed bound to submit to the apostolic proclamation of Jesus as recieved in the canon of Scripture. I don't know just where I sit on my theology of the canon or of Scripture altogether, but by virtue of whatever God and the Church did by which we have the Bible, we are called to build our lives according to the broader biblical narrative of salvation in Christ.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen.