Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday, Museday

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I have the flu and am on various and sundry medications. It makes for interesting conversations and dreams. I've been involved with a few conversations about the inspiration of scripture. We Christians are truly a "people of the Book." It is no doubt a powerful document -- I was reading a book recently that compared it to a "Holy Hand Grenade" -- this Book has the power to blow all our preconceptions apart at the seams.

I think most Christians would agree that the Bible, the witness as contained by the Old and New Testaments, is God-breathed. In 2 Tim 3.16-17 we read: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God [theopneustos], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." I like the translation "God-breathed." Some like the word "inspiration." Theopneustos is translated in the Vulgate with the Latin divinitus inspirata ("divinely breathed into"), but some modern English translations opt for "God-breathed" (NIV) or "breathed out by God" (ESV) and avoid inspiration altogether, since its connotation, unlike its Latin root, leans toward breathing in instead of breathing out. Or maybe we should see this as both an "in-breathing" and "out-breathing?" Perhaps we then are tending to split hairs....

I don't get horribly involved with discussions about the inspiration of scripture. For a lot of people, this discussion is their "jumping off point" for theological debates. For me, not so much. I get more into discussions about, "well, Jesus said X and told us to do Y. How well are we doing?" I take scripture very seriously. It is my norma normans or "norming norm" (to use the words of Richard Hays.) It is the lens by which I view all my waking moments. In other words, I suppose my theology is more informed by my praxis.

In the UMC,our official position is elaborated as thus:
United Methodists share with other Christians the conviction that Scripture is the primary source and criterion for Christian doctrine. Through Scripture the living Christ meets us in the experience of redeeming grace. We are convinced that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God in our midst whom we trust in life and death.

The biblical authors, illumined by the Holy Spirit, bear witness that in Christ the world is reconciled to God. The Bible bears authentic testimony to God's self-disclosure in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as in God's work of creation, in the pilgrimage of Israel, and in the Holy Spirit's ongoing activity in human history.

As we open our minds and hearts to the Word of God through the words of human beings inspired by the Holy Spirit, faith is born and nourished, our understanding is deepened, and the possibilities for transforming the world become apparent to us.

I like this. No arguments about what it IS -- just a simple statement, beautifully worded, about what it DOES. 'Nough said.

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