December 5, 2020

Another Look: My View of Scripture (at this point)

bible ancient

Note from CM: Our usual Friday contributor Mike Bell ran into some other responsibilities and asked me to post something for today. So I thought I’d repeat this 2011 summary of my view of the Bible. I didn’t take time to thoroughly review and edit it, so I might state some minor details differently today, but overall I think it continues to capture my perspective well.

• • •

Today, I would like to present, for your consideration and discussion, a ten-point summary of my perspective on Scripture (at this point in my understanding).

  • The Bible is from God. It is one of the means by which God has made himself known to human beings. The various books of the Bible were composed and edited and put together under the mysterious method of “inspiration,” by which God worked mostly through normal human processes to communicate his message.
  • The Bible is incarnational. That is, it comes to us in fully human form, taking the words of people written in their own times, from within their own cultures, according to the genres and literary conventions common to their day, and within the confines of their own limited perspectives, to communicate God’s message.
  • The Bible involves a complex conversation of faith over time. The Bible contains multiple voices, a diversity of narrative and theological perspectives, and a development of thought over time. For example, Joshua and Judges present two sides of the conquest of Canaan. Ecclesiastes and Job protest the wisdom tradition represented by a book like Proverbs, which even in its own pages presents several points of view. The “history” of Chronicles presents a different scenario of the same events than we see in the books of Kings. This diversity is only a problem if we expect the Bible to be something it is not—a timeless and perfectly consistent, always harmonizable record that is precise in every detail according to modern standards of accuracy.
  • The Bible came to us through the community of faith. Recognizing that there were human processes involved in the final editing and canonization of the Bible also highlights how God used people to bring the Bible as a final product to the world. The Hebrew Bible was put together mostly during and after the Babylonian exile. The church took nearly four centuries to complete the canonization process for the New Testament. Our understanding of the nature, authority, and message of Scripture must take these human processes into account as well.
  • The Bible is the church’s primary authority (Prima Scriptura). The fact that the church functioned for the first four centuries of its life without a complete Bible means that it cannot have sole authority apart from the church, the Holy Spirit, and the apostolic traditions (the “rule of faith”). For Protestants, at the very least this means we must make a fresh commitment to learning church history, the creeds, and the early Church Fathers for a fuller understanding and practice of the faith.
  • The Bible is true. “True” is a better way of describing the Bible than “inerrant” or “infallible” or any such words that grow out of modern categories. After all, what is an “inerrant” poem? An “infallible” story? The Bible is true because it tells the truth about God, the state of the world, human life and death, sin and salvation, wisdom and foolishness. But most of all because it tells the truth about the Truth himself and leads its readers to him.
  • The Bible is God’s story. Any individual passage or part of the Bible should be read and interpreted in the light of its big picture, its overall pattern and message. The final form of the Bible tells a “Christotelic” story. From “in the beginning” to “in the end of days” the story constantly develops and moves forward to its culmination in Christ and the new creation. This story must always determine our emphases when interpreting its message.
  • The Bible’s central focus is Jesus. The apostles testify that Jesus taught them to see that the purpose of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings is to point to him and his good news, which restores God’s blessing to all creation. The New Testament, of course, tells Jesus’ story and accounts of the apostolic community that experienced and spread his good news. The Bible is not God’s final word, but is rather a primary witness to Jesus, God’s final Word.
  • The Bible does not contain every detail of God’s will for his people’s lives. In the Bible, God gives adequate instructions to guide his people to practice lives of love for God and neighbor. On the other hand, God expects that many implications of the Gospel will be worked out only over the course of time, in and through (and despite!) his people, until the consummation of the age. The Bible is not a “handbook” for living, with detailed instructions for every aspect of life. The Bible is not “sufficient” to answer all of life’s questions. It was not designed to do that, and we risk becoming pharisaical if we try to maintain that opinion.
  • The Bible doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend it. Christians do not need to prove that the Bible is a perfect book, free from “error” (as we define it today) in every way in order to have a secure faith or to present a case for Christ to the world. We need a credible, reliable witness that is self-attesting in its divine truthfulness, beauty, and power. This we have in the Bible.


  1. Well said, Mike.

  2. Clear and concise look at scripture….especially the acknowledgment of the need for community, tradition, and the Holy Spirit in understanding what the various books of the Bible—ALL pointing to Christ—actually mean for us in our Christian journey.

    I have always felt that UNLESS I could read Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic fluently, have a chance to read the source material personally, study enough anthropology to understand the culture and practices of the Chosen People (and, later, the Mideast from 10 B.C. to 80 A.D.), AND devote myself to prayer and study and be blessed in extreme measure by the Holy Spirit…………….that I would have to admit that I am NOT qualified to interpret scripture, for myself or anyone else.

    Therefore, I submit to greater hearts, souls, and minds than my own in the nuances of the Christian faith. I CAN be quite sure, though, that the Creator of the universe loves me, despite my many sins and failings, and that I am called to follow Him and love my brothers and sisters here and now. Christ conquered death….the rest is gravy!

    • Using all your criteria, how many individuals throughout the history of the Church would qualify to interpret Scripture? No one in the second, third or fourth centuries of the Church, for instance, had any training in the anthropology you require, to mention just one example.

      • And, lest you think that because the Church Fathers were closer chronologically to the time period you mention, they were already familiar with the culture and practices of those periods, it just ain’t so; closer chronological proximity does not mean greater familiarity with the cultures and practices of previous generations and eras. Contemporary scholars, and even some laypeople, have more thorough and accurate knowledge of life in first century Palestine than did the Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, just as they have more accurate and thorough knowledge of that time period than European scholars in the 15th century, despite their closer chronological proximity.

      • Robert F,
        You are probably correct. No one would qualify then, and I might add, what makes us think anyone qualifies now? But they did have one thing then that has been preserved for us today. If no one can not qualify as individuals, maybe through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they could comment with confidence when they spoke communally – re: the Creeds and Sacred Tradition. The process may not have been as articulate or as elegant as we might like it, but this voice was hammered out in unity. The question becomes do we believe their voice “qualifies?'” This is something us sophisticated post-moderns, proudly clutching our hard fought individuality, have lost.

      • First of all, thanks to Chaplain Mike for posting this at VERY short notice.

        Secondly. A Hebrew prof once stated that knowing Hebrew was like watching a colour TV instead of a black and white TV. Both show the whole picture, but you do miss some of the depth when watching in black and white.

        • You will soon be able to take that analogy even further: “It’s the difference between watching TV in 2D vs. 3D.”

  3. “The fact that the church functioned for the first four centuries of its life without a complete Bible means that it cannot have sole authority apart from the church, the Holy Spirit, and the apostolic traditions (the “rule of faith”).”

    On the other hand, the fact that a fixed New Testament canon developed in and was received by the Church means that just such a canon was required for the ongoing unity, consistency and faithfulness of the Church, and carries with it the implication that the Church is in some way answerable to the authority that it recognized in these texts.

    • Exactly

    • David Cornwell says

      In the past I always assumed that scripture was primary and that tradition followed in importance. More and more it seems to me that they must be held in balance, and in some ways tradition may even outweigh scripture. For the scriptures we now have are the result of the tradition of the Church. I’m not saying that tradition cannot be in error when it comes to present day practice, but that we need to be careful before dumping it.

      Robert, you seem to be calling for a careful balancing act by the Church. I think you are correct.

      • David Cornwell says

        One of the interesting things about this is the diversity of opinion about certain passages. A Catholic, because of his/her tradition can offer an interpretation of scripture that can be very different from that of the Anabaptist. How to weigh those differences, both held to honestly and with intelligence can lead to lively discussion. Scripture is not “wrong” because of these divergent views. And sometimes the interpretations offered can lead one to the view that neither view is wrong, and may be simply a different side of more facets.

        Some theologians have been able to creatively wade into these kind of discussions with positive outcomes. In my opinion groups within the Church, either ecumenically or in local congregations can do the same. However it does demand prayer and humility.

      • David, In my understanding, the Bible and New Testament give us tradition. In the case of the New Testament, we have extremely stable and ancient traditions that have been present in the Church since around the turn of the first century, CE, although not assembled, and in the possession of only some local Church bodies and not others in the earliest couple of centuries. This antiquity and stability means that they carry a lot of authoritative weight, since they are older and more stable than most other Church traditions, and I doubt that we know of many, or any, that are older or more stable.

        Secondary interpretative tradition is necessary because the canon speaks with more than one voice, and sometimes speak in ways that are contradictory; unfortunately, we do not have enough comprehensive and accurate information about other Church traditions of interpretation in the first centuries that indicates unanimity or near unanimity in interpretation and application to settle all our disagreements. The only way to establish such unanimity is with special pleading that does not stand against historical investigation, and is not agreed upon between the various contemporary churches. We have to go by the way of charity and humility in this area, or we shall merely prolong the divisive disagreement.

        • Robert, just curious as to why a Christian would use “CE” and “BCE” instead of B.C and A.D.?? Minor point, but it seems like a nod to political correctness and/or the “purely scientific” worldview….

          • It’s a habit I have developed out of respect for all the people in the world who do not recognize Christ as Lord, and who do not, or would not if they thought about it, want history as they experience and understand it claimed for him against their will. It’s probably not necessary here at iMonk, but it’s my reflex at this point, just as some reflexively refer to the Hebrew scriptures rather than the Old Testament. I do not impose my habit on anyone, or expect them to emulate me, or censure them for speaking differently.

            I say Happy Holidays, too.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      This is strange. At one point did the ancient church lose its authority to the Bible?

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        (make that “At WHAT point”)

      • The Church never lost authority to the Bible; it recognized that it was answerable to the authority expressed by these texts, and to the traditions that came through them. Nothing strange about it.

      • And I was limiting my comments to the New Testament canon, not referring to the entire Bible.

  4. “The Bible is true. ‘True’ is a better way of describing the Bible than ‘inerrant’ or ‘infallible’ or any such words that grow out of modern categories.”

    Well said.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      Is the Book of Mormon “true” as well? Or perhaps they are all “true” to those who think they are true.

      • Valid point, one in which I’m not sure I can fully argue against. “1+1=2” is TRUE. “The Bible = Truth” is FAITH.

        Maybe “true” isn’t the right word, then. How about “trusted”? Is the Bible “trustworthy”?

        For instance, it’s been my experience/observation in interacting with several former Mormons that they stepped away from Mormonism when they realized the Book of Mormon could not be “trusted” and that the Bible COULD.

        • Well, one thing for sure, the Bible and Book of Mormon contradict themselves. The issue of TRUE depents on which camp you are in.

          • Exactly.

            The BOM is all about what the person does to ascend to God. It is nothing but man-made religion…with no idea of what the gospel is.

            That is why Mormons do not have crosses on their buildings. For the Cross of Christ did not accomplish all that is needful…for them.

          • Faulty O-Ring says

            If you don’t like the Book of Mormon, there’s an endless supply of other scriptures. The Qur’an, for instance.

            Can they be “trusted”? Well, the BoM is widely suspected to be fraudulent, I’ll give you that. The Qur’an seems to be a genuine record of what Muhammad revealed–the salient question is whether he really got them from God or not. The Bhagavad-Gita is more mythologically based, with a complex history of composition, and its theology seems to be a mix of ideas that were popular 2000 years ago. The Guru Granth Sahib is mostly hymns.

            Meanwhile, the Bible is a motley collection of writings from various genres, some of them 1000 years apart. There are myths, hymns, and claimed revelations, as well as hisrories which do not quite match and are difficult to evaluate anyway. Lots of pithy wisdom sayings, of course, but no more than the average scripture, and this is no great sign of divine inspiration. So can the Bible be “trusted”? It depends on what you want to trust it to do, but in the end the answer is a matter of religious opinion.

      • The Bible is true for the Christian faith. The Book of Mormon can be true for Mormons, but not Christians. This is an interesting dillema caused by inerrency: non-Christian religions are validated based upon “Biblical Principles”, i.e. cultural war. Mormonism then sneaks in the back door as “Christian” because it passes the Biblical principle test – not Jesus as the only Begotten Son of God.

        As I mentioned in a post several weeks ago, if someone teaches contrary to the Christian faith, he or she can call what they believe anything they like, but not Christian. But we live in a country where food advertised as “healthy” has more calories and less nutritional value than normal food. Labels mean nothing. This points to a real problem for the Chrstian faith: if the symbols of the faith can be made to mean anything, those symbols no longer hold value.

  5. The Bible does not contain every detail of God’s will for his people’s lives. In the Bible, God gives adequate instructions to guide his people to practice lives of love for God and neighbor. On the other hand, God expects that many implications of the Gospel will be worked out only over the course of time, in and through (and despite!) his people, until the consummation of the age.
    The Holy Spirit at work within our lives.
    It is so nice to see things worked in context to expose the love of Christ in the circumstances He walked in.
    How the Spirit convicts us personally is a testament to that love. John 14,15,16 So we might have Him indwelling us and leading us in all things He would have us have. Which leads me to the last point CM makes only adding that it applies to us personally as well. After all I have no need to defend myself from everyone or anything that is from a different realm. I have someone greater doing that and I have no right to defend myself to Him. I only bow ask for mercy and tell Him I love Him so much. Thus I become a testimony, a witness to the incredible beauty and love that is present in myself as well just not nearly as well as I would like it to be at times something like the so many stories of the Bible. Sorry Oscar My sentences are too long

    This is a good statement CM

  6. An excellent summary.

  7. This is great CM.

    “The Bible is true”.

    It’s probably my modem mind, but when I see “truth” I think that we mostly interpret this as “reliable in a way that we can extract accurate propositional facts”. I personally think that’s an incomplete picture of “truth”.

    I think how “truth” is defined here will largely determine people’s approach to the Bible. How is “truth” functionally different than “inerrant”?

    • “True” is more about truly reflecting realities about life and God’s intentions for life (and specific lessons the authors wanted their audience to learn) rather than “accurately representing every fact and detail with precision.”

      This is what “literature” does. It tells stories and interprets history and creates art so that people may connect with deeper realities.

      For inerrantists, it is not enough that the Bible is literature. It must be journalism, precisely reflecting the facts of what happened in every case.

      Did a serpent actually talk to Eve? Is Eve an actual historic character? Did a donkey talk to Balaam? Did a great fish swallow Jonah? I don’t know, nor do I think it’s important to spend a lot of time arguing about it. These stories hold up as truth-communicating literature and, indeed, may do even more to stimulate our imagination and faith if they contain fictional or fantastic elements.

      Certainly in some cases, particularly with regard to the resurrection, the authors claim to be reporting eyewitness testimony of something that happened in history. Where the Bible makes such claims, it is reliable, IMO. However, in cases like Genesis 1-11, the court “histories” of Kings/Chronicles, and even to some degree portions of the Gospels, etc., we are not always reading newspaper accounts of “just the facts, ma’am.” We are reading literature that has been formed and shaped by authors and editors for the purpose of teaching “truth,” as described above.

      • Thanks CM.

        So is the difference between truth and inerrant just genre? Genesis for example. A Genesis as “truth” perspective might say that we’ve miss read the genre and intent of the literature. While it may not be an accurate scientific or historical account, when we account for the genre it can still be considered “true” or possibly “inerrant with respect to purpose”. IMO that’s a big loophole. I mean, would anything actually qualify as an error using that criteria? Is “truth” the same thing as “inerrancy with respect to purpose”?

        Take something like psalm 137 – the one about smashing babies. It’s revolting. Is there a difference in how an “inerrantist” approaches this verse as compared to a “truth” approach? It seems like an “inerrantist” (often) is forced to take this at face value – so they have to find a way in which this is true and good. How does a “truth” approach provide a different paradigm?

        • Mike, your questions reflect why I think terms like “inerrant” and “error” are category mistakes. They don’t apply to literature like the Bible. As I say in the post, poems and stories and sayings cannot be inerrant. We judge them by entirely different criteria.

          As for Ps. 137 and all the imprecations in the psalms, once again the question is not “inerrant or true?” It is more of an interpretive matter — how do we as Christians deal with statements like this that contradict Jesus’ command to love our enemies and not hate them? That’s a problem whether you hold to inerrancy or not.

          • I agree that they’re categorical errors. Even within an inerrantist approach there are a massive number of interpretations so it’s not like screaming “inerrancy” after reading it actually solves anything. The angry fundamentalist approach that these are not human words but divine words says that “it’s good and right to do this because ……”. It’s rationalized. A timeless truth/handbook approach might spin it a little bit and say that this “inerrantly shows us what hatred is” but doesn’t mean that we should replicate it. It could go on and on.

            How does that differ from a truth perspective? Would it be something like, “I don’t know what to with that psalm. The Israelites hates their enemies. That’s reality. It’s the world they lived in – it’s part of their story. It’s their perspective. We don’t need to force ourselves to extract a timeless doctrine from it – or explain it away. Let it be what it is.”

            I can really appreciate that perspective. It seems to me to be a better picture of what scripture actually is. But the “this was their perspective” approach isn’t without problems and I get why people would resist it. What’s “human perspective” and what isn’t? It gets hard to tell. But again, I don’t think it’s any less hard than an inerrancy perspective that tries to rationalize, harmonize, or explain away. It’s just a different challenge – but it seems to be a more human and honest challenge that’s rooted in the person of Christ.

          • Mike H,

            As I grow more familiar with the Patristic interpretation as an Orthodox Christian, I appreciate it, and scripture, so much more. Those folks were brilliant, especially the Cappadocians, but beyond that, an interpretive consensus developed, which we believe was superintended by the Holy Spirit. The thoughts and Christ-centered interpretations of scripture had been there from the beginning, from the teaching of Christ and the Apostles, and percolated through the Church for the first few hundred years. I have been amazed in reading what I have so far, at how those thoughts and interpretive concepts did not actually change over that period, but coalesced in expression, became sharper and more focused as time went on and Christians had to meet the questions that were coming to them. The Greek fathers understood genre and all that, but they viewed everything especially through the Cross and Resurrection together, and what that single, two-part event meant. They knew scripture extremely well; an examination of any annotated/footnoted volume of their writings, from the Apostolics on, shows that. And they were absolutely not “inerrantists.” They believed Jesus Christ himself is The Truth, and scripture exists to point to him – and went from there.

            Your psalm example is a good one. The Greek fathers knew it was a poem, it was written by the Jews, and it was a prayer for God to remove their enemies that was expressed in a certain time in history, and they had no argument with that. That was how they defined the “literal” meaning of the thing. But they believed that the “literal” meaning was not sufficient this side of the Cross/Resurrection, because clearly such action would have contradicted how Jesus, being God (“If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”), told us to treat our enemies. Whether or not the Jews actually dashed their enemies’ children’s heads against rocks (and this was certainly not God’s desire, even though that human writer’s desire came to be recorded in scripture), the most important interpretation the Fathers believed God wanted us to take away from that psalm, post Cross/Resurrection, was that our inclinations toward sin – which are truly our enemies because they work to lead us toward death – must be stopped before they have an opportunity to “grow up” and cause us big trouble. Living in the life of the Holy Spirit, in the sacramental communion of the Church, gives us the tools to resist those enemies within, and destroy them before they lead us to destruction. We won’t do that perfectly, but *that’s* where our struggle lies all through life; that’s the “negative” thing we do alongside the “positive” thing of cultivating sacrificial love. The Incarnation, life, teaching and Passion of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit “weighs” more in comparison with any other part of scripture, and is the lens through which the rest of scripture should be viewed in order to interpret it correctly. Just because something is recorded in the bible doesn’t mean that, on the face of it, that’s what God wants.

            I keep saying our problems with scripture are about hermeneutics – not only how to interpret specific passages, but also how to interpret what scripture *is* – which is what CM has addressed with this post.


        • My two cents Mike is that the Psalmist was crying out to God with his heart. He was speaking real things from his innermost being. Whether those things are always right or not, well you be the judge. If I had to guess I would probably say those things happened then and more than likely happened to their own babies at one time. They were under eye for an eye. Jesus came and took it to a higher level than it had ever been. The OT was a shadow of what was to come and it is pointing to Jesus all the time. Smashing our enemies teeth in, again my two cents is this is really the way I think about my enemies today but they are not flesh and blood. So I hope my Lord shuts them up decisively like that. It wouldn’t bother me a bit. I got a feeling that was already done anyways and I shouldn’t waste any more thought on than that. In the psalms seeing our humanness next to the divine is truth in a way and it can be brutal. There are some really horrible things out there and the Bible doesn’t ignore them. We should probably not either. Weeping and gnashing of teeth could be understated IMO. The physical was being acted out as what goes on in the spiritual. We say things like chocolate activates the same chemicals as making love. Making love as it was intended is spiritual so it activates the physical and responses. Done right and we are fulfilled. You can never eat enough chocolate to fulfill yourself. The physical leads to the spiritual and vice versa. It goes a lot deeper.

          • Dana, yeah I agree that it ultimately boils down to hermeneutics. But, I think that how we define what scripture is and what we expect/require of it is in many ways the thing that most defines how hermeneutics are going to work. It gives the paradigm that a person works within. Along those lines I’m interested to see what difference there really is between scripture as “truth” as compared to “inerrancy”. I think that they’re potentially very different paradigms – it’s way more than just not taking everything literally or admitting that certain irrelevant details don’t match up.

      • Even though I lean towards inerrancy, I totally agree with post, CM. There many stories in scripture that are valuable whether true or allegorical. They are from God and are to be absorbed into our minds and spirits to help us grow in faith.

  8. Does it go without saying that the scriptures are sacred? This point seems to get lost in the debate over inerrency.

  9. The goal of the Bible (we believe) is that faith be created and sustained.

    This is what the gospel does.

    That is why Luther could say, “If they us the scriptures against Christ, we will use Christ against the scriptures.”

    • And this is why Luther sometimes got it wrong.
      It’s not a contest to be won. It’s a relationship to be embraced.

      • You have a different understanding of the Word than Luther did…and that we do.

        But you are in the majority.

        We hold the minority view.

        • Battle on my friend.

          • We just sail into it full steam ahead. And every now and then, someone actually hears the pure gospel, and is freed by it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Of course, this regresses the question as to what is “the pure gospel”. Lotsa definitions of “pure gospel” out there, so just stating “pure gospel” isn’t all that informative.

            Even when you eliminate redefinitions into “diabolical meanings” a la Screwtape and the “Gospelly(TM)” types The Wartburg Watch keeps a sharp eye on.

  10. …which begs the question: Of what possible use are infalliblity and inerrancy in the hands of fallible and errant theologians? “Inerrant” and “infallible” are absolutes, applicable to God and perhaps to His Word, but irrelevancies in the hands of human interpreters. Alone and unaided, we would never get it right. “Truth” we can relate to. I vote for “true”. That’s useful. I’m going to go hug my Bible.

    • “scripture interprets scriptures”…or is it a fallible interpreter interprets scripture using other scripture…

      • in order to do what you describe as “a fallible interpreter interprets scripture using other scripture”, the Southern Baptist Convention had to lay Christ to the side as the ‘lens’ used to interpret the Bible . . . having done this in their 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, they then proceeded heavily down the path you describe, and many new emphases and doctrines flowed from their own interpretations, some of which were enacted in heavy-handed treatment of a female professor of Hebrew at an SBC seminary . . .

        this could NOT have been scripturally justified had the SBC still used Our Lord as the ‘lens’ for the interpretation and application of sacred Scripture

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “Scripture interprets Scripture” or some variant on it was also a favorite tag line of Garner Ted Armstrong of the old Worldwide Church of God group. I remember it from all those copies of Plain Truth at my local library in the late Sixties.

    • Jim your last sentence makes me smile

  11. Another important thing to keep in mind is the difference between typology and allegory. They are related ways to interpret figurative language in scripture, but they are different.

    Allegory says: X in the OT is LIKE Y in the NT (whether X “happened” or not).
    Example: Not muzzling an ox while it’s treading corn is LIKE good support of those who establish churches.

    Typology says: Y in the NT is the FULFILLMENT IN HISTORY of X in the OT (and Y most definitely happened).
    Example: Christ giving us the Eucharist to now feed the people of God is the fulfillment of God giving manna to feed his people in the wilderness.

    There is a good, brief article on this at orthodoxwiki dot org fslash typology.


  12. Prima scriptura vs sola scriptura. We should discuss this.

    Chaplain Mike, your tradition is largely sola, right? And so are most Protestant traditions. Yet, going off wikipedia mostly, Prima sounds like an honest version of Sola.


    • Luther and Calvin both valued tradition. We speak of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Sola Scriptura IMO is a rhetorical attempt to make scripture primary, but “sola” in truth is unsustainable. That’s not the Bible we have.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It all too easily becomes Bible as Party Line.

        Similar to what the Taliban and ISIS/ISIL do with the Koran.

  13. Good points, Mike – all 10 of them.
    While I believe it is important that we believers continue to uphold the Bible as a unique and vital communication from our Creator, I think it’s also important that we leave ourselves some wiggle room and cut ourselves, the Bible, and God Himself some slack now and then. How can we truly hear what God wants to tell us through His Word when we’ve got it tied and gagged in bonds of unbending theology and unrealistic expectations?

  14. Mike, I like the list for the most part, but am still struggling with the idea of Christotelic interpretation. You wrote: “the story constantly develops and moves forward to its culmination in Christ and the new creation. This story must always determine our emphases when interpreting its message.” Of course, this is a widely held view and I see much merit in it. I also can’t shake the feeling, however, that reading the story from the end to the beginning–or maybe better, reading the end first, so that it always takes priority–somehow slights all God’s work to bring about and preserve the Old Testament. An article which has helped me immensely in this area is John Goldingay’s tongue-in-cheek, Do We Need the New Testament? and see YouTube:

  15. The following is a helpful article regarding how fundamentalism adopted modernism as it sought to defend itself against liberalism.

    These are a few key statements from the article:

    Hodge set down a biblical foundationalist method. He did not separate facts from faith or between facts and values and he saw theology as factual. His Systematics begins with theology as having a scientific status because it follows a similar method of knowing: induction. The Bible is a ‘store house of facts’ (230). This is a kind of Enlightenment approach to knowledge. Noll says the Princeton School can be ‘scientific postitivists’ at times (231).”

    “Hodge defended the Bible as the foundation for the science of theology. He opposed subjectivism by the objectivity of God’s Word. [This is still a very common claim.]”

    • No doubt this is what Jesus was talking about when He said He was glad that the Father revealed things to the simple and children because he was sure they could easily grasp the mind numbing storehouse of facts. I have been sure of the fact that certainly human reason is what changes the heart. So it is learn, learn, learn and someday your heart will be correct. How could it be that the heart and the love that was now opened and given as free pouring into it could ever change a mind. My sincere apologies it is just what was triggered.

      • I’m not convinced this is an example of good learning. Most American evangelicals can’t distiguish between Christian faith and philosophical modernism. The two are hopelessly entangled.

        • I’m sorry Ox I usually go to the opposite in some strange way. It has been with me along time. I might need to work on that. Most cannot distinguish is probably true and to be honest most could probably care less. It is blessed to not have to figure it all out. Equally so is the blessing bestowed on some of us who have to. Yet if they reach the same conclusions does it so much matter.

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    Thanks a lot!