Monday, September 26, 2011

The Nature of Scripture

Here are two views on the nature of Scripture and the nature of our interaction with Scripture. the process of examining and determining proper Christian belief no appeal can be made against Scripture. Anyone who says, “Scripture teaches that such-and-such is true, but I disagree and urge that Christians believe something contrary to Scripture” is departing from foundational Christian thinking in precisely the same way that a United States judge would be departing from American jurisprudence and his or her own oath by saying “The Constitution holds that such-and-such is a basic principle and right, but I disagree and rule against the Constitution.” That is unthinkable. 
- Roger Olson
What Olson deems unthinkable, Terrence Fretheim deems necessary. For this seasoned Old Testament scholar, the God-breathedness of Scripture does not mean that everything is settled. Indeed, Fretheim asserts that the Bible is not always trustworthy in its portrayal of God himself. Therefore as Abraham and Moses could dialogue and dispute with God regarding God's character and actions, so must we if we are to be faithful. Fretheim isn't directing this comment to Olson's above, but it certainly works as a riposte to what might be called the traditional view of Scripture:

Once again, this [that is, the traditional view of Scripture] implies that experience is finally drawn back into the Bible and its perspective, and such experience cannot stand over against the Bible and speak a “no” to one or another matter of which it speaks. But it must be said clearly that God is actively engaged in that worldly experience, and God may work in and through that experience in such a way as to bring a critical word to bear on the Bible. Difficult issues of discernment and criteria are quickly at hand, but we cannot in the face of those difficulties simply retreat into the narrative world of the Bible. For God is never simply “at home” in such a retreat. 
- Terrence Fretheim

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