According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Peter Enns - The Bible as a "Human Book"


4 thoughts about the Bible as a “human book”
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/06/4-thoughts-about-the-bible-as-a-human-book/

by Peter Enns
June 17, 2015

Christians confess the Bible as “God’s word,” which means (among other things) that God had something to do with the production of it – though, the honest person will admit, we don’t really know, nor can we adequately articulate, what that “something” is, and calling it “inspiration” or “revelation” is simply assigning a multi-syllable word to that unknown process.

Be that as it may, the history of Christian theology hasn’t been at all shy about providing various models of biblical inspiration and the Bible as God’s revelation.

But the Bible was also – and this is self-evidently true – written by people, real people, with personalities, histories, questions, perceptions, worries, fears, etc.

That brings us to a struggle a lot of Christians have with the Bible: thinking of the Bible, God’s word, as a human book?

To which I would like to offer 4 points.

1. Change “as” to “is.” The Bible is a human book, meaning there is nothing in the Bible that does not fully reflect the human drama and that cannot be explained on the basis of its “humanity.”

In other words, there is nothing in the Bible to which one can point and say, “Ah, here is something that is divine and NOT human.” “As” falsely suggests distance between the Bible’s thoroughgoing humanness.

2. Though the Bible is not merely a human book, it is nevertheless a thoroughly human book. That is a paradox, a confessed by faith.

The evangelical challenge concerning scripture can be summarized as the need to work through a true synthesis where the “humanity” of scripture is truly respected.

In other words, the Bible reflects various and sundry (not one) ancient (not modern Christian) ways of thinking about God and the life of faith, and these factors need to be thoroughly integrated into any discussion of the “nature of scripture.”

3. The evangelical system has not always done a good job of pulling off this synthesis. The thoroughgoing humanness of the Bible is often doctrinally uncomfortable, and so is adjusted, ignored, or neutered to protect theological statements about the nature of scripture.

Another way of articulating the challenge: true dialogue is needed between the Bible as a means of deep spiritual formation and “taking seriously” Scripture’s thoroughgoing humanity.

Of course, just what “taking seriously” means is the money question, and too often in evangelical formulations, at the end of the day, the diverse and ancient nature of Scripture is either tolerated or tamed rather than allowed truly to inform Scripture’s role in spiritual formation.

4. I offer three interrelated models for Bible readers today for engaging the Bible with greater attention to the Bible’s own character as a means toward, rather than impediment for, spiritual formation.

A dialogical model: Taking a page from the history of Judaism and much of pre-modern Christianity, the Bible is a book where God is met through dialogue rather than primarily as a source of doctrinal formulations.

Reading the Bible well means being open and honest about what we see there rather than feeling doctrinally pressed to corral all parts of Scripture into a logically coherent system. The dialogical model is woven into the Bible itself, e.g., Job, Ecclesiastes, and lament Psalms, which challenge the the status quo.

A journey model: Rather than a depository of theological statements disguised as a narrative, the Bible models our spiritual journey by letting us in on the spiritual journey of the ancient Israelites and first followers of Jesus.

This model allows the theological and historical tensions and contradictions to stand as statements of faith at various stages of that journey rather than problems to be overcome in preserving a “system” or “owner’s manual” approach to Scripture. (I focus on the journey model in The Bible Tells Me So.)

An incarnational model: I continue to think that an incarnational model of Scripture provides needed theological flexibility for addressing the realities of a Bible that is both located squarely and unambiguously located in antiquity and continues to be sacred scripture.

[This post is adapted from an earlier post from January 2014. Watch for the revised 10th anniversary edition of Inspiration and Incarnation coming out later this summer.]