Just like the insanely popular podcast “Serial”, this post is part of a series. If you haven’t read the first post – this one will probably make a whole lot more sense if you take a few minutes to read Part 1.
The first theological proposition stated that because the Bible contains the exact words of God, the Bible has the same authority as God. This proposition presumes a dictatorial (ie. dictated by God) view of Scripture. This is certainly one of the ways that some Christians understand how Scripture is God-breathed and inspired. The question it raises for me is, “How then do we view Christians in other parts of the Body who do not hold to a dictatorial position?” If the position of this preacher is based on this being the absolute, only way to understand Scripture and authority – which is how it seemed to be presented – then is every other follower of Jesus wrong? In error? Not submitting to God’s authority? Let’s remember that the articulation of some of these ideas really only gained momentum in the 1970’s and 80’s by those who feared that historical criticism would unravel the faith. My question, “Is God so remote that only a dictated bible can connect us to his will?” “Is Jesus not continuing to reveal God?” “Where is the Holy Spirit?” “And what do we do with the reality that there are such diverse perspectives on so many theological questions within the church?”
Can there be dialogue about the ways in which we engage the Scriptures? What about engaging Scripture understanding the gospel to be including more and more people, perhaps particularly those who have been marginalized? What about the lens of shalom and justice? What about the worldview of creation, fall, redemption guiding our understanding of particular texts? What about the need for our interpretations of Scripture to be Christ-like?
We often hear these kinds of absolute, black and white statements about the authority of Scripture. In communities marked by generous spaciousness we acknowledge that we do not have perfect access to understand the authority of Scripture. We always have an interpretive lens no matter how plainly we try to read the text. And the truth is, there are no perfect interpreters. We all see through a glass dimly. So in generously spacious communities, we willingly admit, “I could be wrong.” And this, we find, opens the opportunity for dialogue – in the quiet confidence that the Holy Spirit will show up and show us even more than we thought we knew or understood.
Teaser for Part 3: The second proposition from the sermon is, “The Bible is clear.”