Re: Inspiration

From: george murphy (
Date: Thu Sep 21 2000 - 14:48:50 EDT

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    Tom Pearson wrote:

    > At 07:45 AM 09/21/2000 -0400, Mccarrick Alan D CRPH wrote:
    > >Wayne, I am partially disturbed by the sound of the first part of your
    > quote. Does this accurately reflect >Bonhoeffer's view of scripture - that
    > is CONTAINS inspired truth that we must identify for ourselves. The
    > evalgelical >position is usually that "those 66 chapters" are COMPLETELY
    > inspired. Was you entire quotation directly from >Bonhoeffer ? Could you
    > direct me to a specific location (I assume from drew from "Cost of
    > Discipleship")
    > Wayne Dawson has already responded to this from his own perspective, but
    > allow me to add to the conversation. The position suggested in Wayne's
    > post, which leaves Alan partially disturbed, is the traditional Lutheran
    > understanding of the nature of biblical inspiration. Insofar as Bonhoeffer
    > was a Lutheran (and there is some dispute over this),

            There is no serious doubt about this - unless being "Lutheran" means that
    one is not allowed
    to point out any shortcomings in traditional Lutheran views.

    > he is simply relating
    > the historic position of Lutheranism.
    > The Lutheran stance is to understand the primary resource for theological
    > reflection among Christians to be Christ Himself, and not the text of the
    > Bible. It is the narrative of Christ's life, death and resurrection that
    > summarizes the Gospel, and it is the Gospel that is the focus of Christian
    > faith and practice. Luther once compared the Bible to the manger in which
    > the Christ child lay: you go to scripture to find Christ; but even as no
    > one fastens their faith to the manger rather than the Child, so does no one
    > fasten their faith to the written text of the Bible, which is simply the
    > repository for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This accounts for Luther's low
    > regard for various books of the Bible (James, Hebrews, Revelation) as
    > deficient in Gospel, and therefore of less value. This also accounts for
    > the historic Lutheran claim that "inspiration" is a term that applies to
    > the authors of the biblical text (i.e., they wrote in a state of
    > inspiration) rather than to the character of the text itself (i.e., the
    > words themselves are inspired).
    > My understanding is that many north American evangelicals argue that it is
    > impossible to separate the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible which
    > contains that Gospel, but Lutherans have ordinarily disagreed. We argue
    > that Christian theology is Christologically centered, and that
    > Christological reflection is a free exercise of Christian faith. The
    > concern for Lutherans has typically been that this freedom may be
    > compromised by an allegiance to various presuppositions regarding the
    > nature of the written text of scripture. In Lutheran parlance, we call it
    > a failure to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel, whenever claims
    > about the Bible are taken as normative, and prior to, the claim of the Gospel.
    > I don't know which Bonhoeffer passages Wayne had in mind in his original
    > post, but you can find Bonhoeffer echoing these Lutheran emphases in a
    > number of works, including the 1928 address, "Jesus Christ and the Essence
    > of Christianity," and the 1935 lecture, "The Interpretation of the New
    > Testament," both of which (along with a lot of other good stuff) can be
    > found in *A Testament to Freedom*, edited by Geffrey B. Kelly and F. Burton
    > Nelson (HarperCollins, 1995).
    > Naturally, there will be always be exceptions among Lutherans to what I've
    > outlined above, particularly with those who have accepted other theological
    > models. In the second half of the twentieth century, some groups of
    > Lutherans in Europe have been influenced by a Barthian neo-Orthodoxy, and
    > in north America some groups have accepted certain hermeneutical and
    > exegetical principles from evangelical protestantism. In such cases,
    > Lutherans have muted their own voice. But Bonhoeffer's voice seems pretty
    > clear on these points, and what he says represents traditional Lutheranism.

               The Lutheran Orthodoxy of the 17th & early 18th century insisted upon
    the inspiration of the text of scripture itself. E.g., Hollaz (in Schmid, p.45),
    "All the words, without exception, contained in the Holy Manuscript, were dictated
    by the Holy Spirit to the pen of the prophets and apostles." For some of the
    orthodox dogmaticians this included inspiration even of the Masoertic vowel
                Note - I am not arguing that these ideas are correct, or that they
    represent the best of the Lutheran tradition. But they are a significant part of
    that tradition.



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