Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?

From: George Murphy (
Date: Thu Jun 26 2003 - 08:18:03 EDT

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    Terry M. Gray wrote:
    > Geroge Murphy wrote:
    > > The difficulty is not with the 2 books idea itself but with
    > >the order in which
    > >they are read. The book of scripture needs to be read before the
    > >book of nature (in
    > >order to do theology - not science). In addition, the "book of
    > >scripture" should be
    > >understood as witness to God's fundamental revelation, not that
    > >revelation itself.
    > No problem with the first two sentences, but I do feel obliged to
    > comment on the last sentence, since the idea seems to be coming up
    > again.
    > I hope that here we are simply making the distinction between the
    > saving work of God (throughout redemptive history and especially in
    > Christ) and the divinely inspired commentary on that saving work that
    > is found in scripture. I don't think that traditional Christian
    > theology of all stripes (until perhaps the last 100-150 years) has
    > hesitated to call scripture "revelation". This is in part the
    > significance of the first plank of the ASA statement of faith. The
    > Bible is divinely inspired (despite whatever humanness is found
    > therein) and is infalllible and authoritative as a result. We're not
    > speaking here of the musings of a faith community. We're speaking of
    > writings that God himself guided with the result being that they can
    > be considered His Word with a "thus saith the Lord" attached to their
    > reading (and not just the words of the faith community).
    > This is no fundamentalist innovation, but can be found in nearly all
    > the writings of the ancient church fathers and the confessions of
    > nearly all stripes of the Christian church. The Bible has had a
    > controlling influence on theology. Creativity in theology is limited
    > to that which is consistent with scripture. There's a sense in which
    > scripture (and the redemptive history to which they authoritatively
    > bear witness) is the data of "theological theorizing". For example,
    > the ancient creeds are the Church Fathers' best efforts to understand
    > the "data" of scripture--it is not scripture itself. Theological
    > aberrations defined by these creeds because the are not faithful to
    > all the teaching of scripture.
    > To reduce scripture to the fallible reflections of a faith community
    > that encountered the saving acts of God is to stop way short of what
    > scripture says about itself. I hope that we all recognize that this
    > way of speaking of scripture is an innovation of the past century
    > that the first plank of the ASA statement of faith is meant to
    > counter.

            Whether or not scripture is described as "revelation" is a matter of theological
    opinion. The Bible itself never uses the word of itself or parts of itself. I think
    it's better to make clear the distinction between God's self-revelation in the history
    of Israel culminating in Christ and the inspired written witness to it. All sorts of
    aberrations can result (though of course they don't have to) if one tries to read
    scripture as an inerrant or infallible text independent of its function as witness to

            Earlier I quoted snippets from the ELCA constitution. More fully, after
    speaking of Christ and proclamation of law & gospel, it says:

            "The canonical scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of
    God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce
    God's revaltion in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and
    sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world."

            Of course this is not an infallible definition but I think is a useful one. It
    does not use the term "inerrant", I think wisely. The term is so loaded with
    connotations of "accurate historical account" that I'm afraid it's pretty much



    George L. Murphy

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