The Word of God (was Re: On the Flood Narratives)

From: george murphy (
Date: Wed Nov 08 2000 - 10:53:11 EST

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    Howard -
            Hope your surgery goes well. The following comments may be
    helpful, or at least stimulate some discussion.

    "Howard J. Van Till" wrote:

    > 2. (On Glenn's verboten topic) What does it mean to refer to the Bible
    > as the "word of God"? Is it not the case that Christians are often
    > inclined to move without sufficient reflection from thinking of the
    > Bible as "divinely inspired" to treating it as if it were "divinely
    > written" (in modern Western literary style, of course, and with
    > complete access to the divine knowledge base)? And is it not the case
    > that treating the Bible as if it were "divinely written" is likely to
    > produce biblicism bordering on bibliolatry?
    > 3. Why not consider the possibility that Christians could benefit from
    > a respectful reading of the religious texts of other faiths? Do we
    > really think that all other faith communities have been totally denied
    > an authentic experience of God's presence? Has God abandoned everyone
    > but us Christians?


                The Word of God is (1) the One through whom the universe was
    created and who became incarnate. The Word of God is (2) the
    proclamation of Christ. And the Word of God is (3) the Bible which
    witnesses to the Word (1) and is the basis for the Word (2).
                This does not mean that the Bible is the Word of God only in
    a secondary or tertiary sense, nor does it answer questions about the
    historical character of biblical narratives. But it does mean that if
    the Bible is not functioning as the Word of God if it is being used to
    do something other than - in the long run - witness to Christ or support
    the proclamation of Christ.
                I think that this is germane to the question of how
    Christians are to read religious texts of other faiths. It isn't simply
    a question of whose book is better but of whether or not those texts in
    some way witness to the Christ & might support the proclamation of
    Christ. That may sound strange but perhaps that's because we haven't
    really explored the question from that angle. In any case, there is
    ultimately only one Word of God, as the Barmen Declaration of 1934
    said: "Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the
    one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and
    obey in life and in death."


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