my guiding theologies: scripture

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Friday, December 5th, 2008

my guiding theologies: scripture

alright, here’s part 2 (or 3 if you count the intro…) of my blog series, my guiding theologies. enjoy. (and feel free to comment)

statement: scripture: the bible is the foremost guidebook from which flows my understanding of the  way i engage others, relate to my wife, raise my children, lead others, interact with christ and inform every other aspect of my life.

what: as stated, i view the bible as a guidebook, as opposed to a rule book or law book. the bible serves primarily as god’s written mode of pointing toward truth and the way of christ. the bible lives and breaths and therefore, deserves to be approached as a guide to all aspects of life, rather than a stale and dead book of “do’s” and “don’ts.” when we engage in scripture with an ear toward the holy spirit, we discover what it means to live in the way of christ as created beings in the image of god.
further, another important distinction is the lens in which we read scripture. my hermeneutical key is jesus. in other words, jesus is the lens through which i view the entire metanarrative that weaves throughout both the old and new testament. naturally, when i read the gospels, it’s filtered through the life and message of christ. further, though, when i read the story of creation or the mystery of revelation or the poetry of the song of songs or the love story of hosea, i read it through the lens of jesus. without a jesus perspective, scripture is disjointed and lacks proper meaning.
one final point of importance about scripture being a guiding theology is the tension that is held between scripture, tradition, reason and experience. one of the contributions of my time spent in a master’s program in the wesleyan tradition is the discovery of what’s commonly referred to as the wesleyan quadrilateral. it’s the concept of the four aforementioned guides to theological discernment being held in a constant tension. now, hear me loud and clear (for all those who like to pick apart my words): scripture is my foremost guide, but in matters of theological reflection, these four things need to be in a constant tension that equally informs each other. so, in reading and interpreting scripture, we must take into account 2,000 years of church history (although, admittedly, i do struggle with this one…probably more of a semantic problem for me, though), a sense of rational thought and our own sense of communal and personal experience with christ and others. the three other parts of the quadrilateral don’t trump scripture, but rather, they work in accord to help us to interpret and “make sense” of scripture.
why: scripture as paramount in my life is a guiding theology because it is the most complete and “physical” mode of “seeing” god. while we are led and informed by the holy spirit, scripture provides a tangible guide to a living in the light of a mysterious god. when we divorce ourselves and our lives from scripture, we divorce ourselves from god himself.

3 Comments

  1. Jesse says:

    Here’s a fun question…

    Would you say that scripture is wholly inspired by God with out any mixture of error?

    It seems that by saying the Bible is a guidebook takes away any absoluteness from it and rather makes it conditional.

    Thoughts?

  2. ryanByrd says:

    well, i think your first question is sort of a setup question for many people. it’s sort of a lose-lose…with that said, though, i think scripture is absolutely god-inspired and truthful throughout.

    i think the issue of having “any mixture of error” elicits a much fuller conversation than what we can have here. my quick and oversimplified answer is that ‘no,’ there is no “mixture of error.” god doesn’t inspire “errors.” there is certainly a beautiful and rich human element that needs to be factored in, but that doesn’t equate to “errors.”

    by saying that it’s a guidebook, it simply means that it points the way—like a guide. a guide doesn’t walk for you, he shows you the way. a guide points out things along the way that might be dangerous or worthwhile to know or provides education about the journey. the bible isn’t god. it simply points to god.

    the contrast between a guidebook and rulebook, to me, is that a rulebook can be proof-texted and pulled out of context and “fact-checked.” a guidebook is living and points to some tangible end point. it’s mysterious and engages us in a journey. a rulebook is an end to nothing more than fixing problems as we go along.

    for example, with the levitical laws, they aren’t just stale and lifeless laws that should be plucked one by one. they speak to a rich story and tradition amongst a people on a journey. it’s a guide for right and healthy and safe living for a people in a people time and in a particular culture and a particular context.

    so, there’s nothing inherently “conditional” about scripture. rather, it offers a narrative of truth that points toward, as an author recently suggested, “god’s eschatological horizon,” in which we are moving toward god and he is moving toward us.

  3. Jesse says:

    Whatever… You sound like a hippie.

    I pulled that question from a statement of faith I found on a Baptist Church’s website.

    I think it’s hard to have a discussion about the importance of scripture because people are so careful to define it’s significance and rightly so.

    I think we can make the book(s) into whatever we want them to mean or be. But as decedents of the Reformation and believers of the priesthood of each Christian we place special significance on scripture as the most obvious path to our understanding of God.

    When we downplay the role of the clergy and elevate the role of the lay we can see more significance placed on scripture. I don’t think this is inherently good or bad, but I think both.

    We just need to be careful not to turn the Bible into something that it’s not… a false god. Scripture worship is not God worship.

    You addressed this issue, but I’m just ranting now…

    Further we need to understand that scripture is not the only way of understanding God and must be worked with other means that we have. I think this is where you Wes Quad comes in. So for instance when the Bible advocates plucking out eyes that sin, we hold that up to the light of logic and say… surely this is a metaphor.

    The question is where do we draw the line. I was apart of an interesting discussion recently about demonic posession. My logic says this is stupid and evil spirits don’t posess people, but the Bible has illustrations of Jesus casting demons out. Now it can be argued that these spirits are just illnesses and Jesus is healing the ill, but the scriptures give the demons characteristics that viruses don’t posess such as speaking and killing swine… yadda yadda yadd

    I could go on…

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