Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?

From: George Murphy (
Date: Thu Jun 26 2003 - 13:53:00 EDT

  • Next message: Terry M. Gray: "Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?"

    Terry M. Gray wrote:
    > George Murphy wrote:
    > >
    > >
    > > 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
    > >revelation.
    > >
    > > 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
    > >unsalvageable.
    > George,
    > I'm not arguing here for inerrancy, but "merely" inspiration--that
    > scripture is God-breathed and thus God's definitive and unique
    > written Word recording and announcing God's revelation in redemptive
    > history. It is fully legitimate to call it God's Word. Whether you
    > call that revelation is a semantic issue. In the much of the modern
    > parlance, "witness to" puts the full weight on the human faith
    > community's reflection. Our on-going reflections are seen to be of
    > the same flavor. Inspiration is seen in a much more generic sense
    > ("the awesome nature scene 'inspired' me to write this poem" or
    > "watching God do this amazing miracle 'inspired' me to write about
    > it") than the unique "God-breathed" or prophetic "carried along by
    > the Spirit" meaning that is fouind in scripture. This fully human
    > "witness to" is not the traditional view--it is not the view
    > reflected in the ELCA statement from which you have quoted.
    > The ELCA statement also rightly points to the work of the Spirit
    > through the scriptures. This promise and expectation cannot be made
    > in reference to any other human writings.
    > You may be correct in your assessment about the connotations of the
    > word "inerrancy" although I know of plenty of conservative Reformed
    > theologians who understand it in a reasonably nuanced way that avoids
    > the problems you attach to it--including B.B. Warfield and A.A. Hodge
    > who wrote the original piece in *The Fundamentals*. Many modern
    > inerrantists are much less nuanced then those who defined the term.

            I think you bring out one of the problems with "witness" language. In modern
    religious usage it often means testifying about one's own subjective experience. But
    while the Bible does have this element ("Did not our hearts burn within us ...?"), the
    primary sense in which it's to be understood as witnessing is in saying what God has
    done. That is, e.g., the sense in which the apostles are seen as witnesses of the
    resurrection (Acts 1:22).

            The inspiration of scripture should not be separated too sharply from the
    activity of the Spirit in the ongoing preaching and teaching of the church. Bot OTOH,
    preaching and teaching must be the proclamation and explication of Christ on the basis
    of scripture. They cannot, as Enthusiasts imagine, be done independently of scripture.



    George L. Murphy

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