Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?

From: Don Winterstein (
Date: Fri Jun 27 2003 - 04:34:53 EDT

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    Terry Gray wrote in part:

    >...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.

    Regardless of what various people have said about the scriptures, an exhaustive study of the phrase, "word of God," in the Bible itself will come up with few examples where the phrase could even possibly refer to scriptures. So the Bible itself by "word of God" means something quite other than scriptures. As a rule it means the message of God to specific people concerning what the will of God is for them. In the Acts it often seems to mean the spoken message of God's salvation through Jesus.

    So George Murphy's comment that "...The 'book of scripture' should be understood as witness to God's fundamental revelation, not that revelation itself,' is well formulated. The word of God is something much more vital than a book, however inspired; and I suggest we get back to the scriptural meaning, even if "we" as the Christian church have never been there before.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Terry M. Gray
      Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 7:11 AM
      Subject: Re: Concordist sequence--why be a concordist?

      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
    > 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


      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.

      Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
      Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
      Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
      phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

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