Monday, December 15, 2008

The Bible as Scripture or the Scripture as Bible.

How we understand Scripture is pivotal in our understanding of faith. If we are justified by faith, then does it matter how we understand Scripture? Ken Schenck of Quadralateral Thoughts, has several entires about "the Bible as Christian Scripture". If you read these entries, you understand that usually Christians approach the text with a Christian bias, or a Christian understanding of theology. It presuppoese upon the text what the text means, before investigation into the full context of the original audience. This is where scholarship should "inform" the people in the pew. Fundamentalism believes that the Bible can be understood by one sitting in an easy chair. Fundamentalists take a simplistic view of inspiration, spirit, and understanding.

Fundamenatlists believe that Scripture is useful for "correction, training, so that the man of God can be...."The Scriptures themselves are what is of importance, with no consideration of the person's context, or personal situatedness, or the larger questions of historicity. Theologizing doesn't take seriously the place, or the text, itself. Theologizing assumes upon the text and presumes upon the other. Theologizing is having prejuidice and bias!

The real question is: Are the Scripture sufficient in all areas of understanding? How one understands and answer that question determines a lot about one's worldview.

The text was written within a certain cultural and philosophical framework, which was not "inspiried", but was the worldview that was prevalent in that day. There is no super spiritual "worldview" or sanctified understanding, when it comes to ancient texts. Ancient texts held a kernel of "truth" or wisdom, but should not be pervasively understood as the epitome of truth for all times, all people and all situations. Ancient texts did not have the understanding of science we do today. It did not understand sociology, biology, or government in the same way as modern or civilized people do today. The question arises; what is the usefulness of the text, as many have been damaged by mis-understanding the application of the text?

The answer can run the gambit from:
The text is the epitome of truth for application. This way of understanding is based on reason.
The text is useful for allegorical purposes to teach wisdom. this way of understanding is based on faith.
The text is irrelevant in today's climate, as we have come to develop our understanding in a far more sophisticated way. This way of understanding is based on reason.

While there are many who encourage the "faith way", as reason is limited, I think that approaching the text with faith, is really nothing other than bias and a "thologized' understanding" that still presupposes upon the text. An ancient text is best understood within the larger framework of ancient history. There we will find the "issues of the heart", such as malice, pride, maliciousness, which result in all kinds of disorder. This is why I like to understand ethics as the epitome of truth today. Ethics helps everyone to understand better what the issues are and where there convictions really play out in the world at large....

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