Re: The Whole Bible Revealed in Zechariah (was Re: NT truth (formerly inerrancy?))

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Tue Jan 13 2004 - 05:05:08 EST

George Murphy wrote (among other things):

"c. 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 revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks
to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world."

But this is a church-generated quote, IMO not inspired. None of your _own_ points as I understand them support the notion that the canonical Scriptures in whole or in part are per se the Word of God.

I understand that the above quoted statement is commonly held to be true among Protestant Christians, but I don't think it is consistent with scriptural usage of "Word of God," "Word of the Lord," "Word" or any equivalent. When did this concept of the "written Word of God" first gain currency among Christians? (I'd guess not until after the Reformation, but I suspect you can do better than guess.)

My own view, which I believe I can well support from Scripture (even though I haven't yet gotten to first base with Richard), is that the Word of God is much more dynamic than any written text, and that no written text as such is worthy of being called "the Word of God." When a person _reads_ the written text, it can become the Word of God to that person; but the written text per se is not the Word of God. God's Spirit cannot speak through those written words unless they are read.

Without in-depth familiarity with certain of the writings of the prophets, a person is not likely to see even a hint of Christ in them. For example, suppose the man in the street happened upon the 35th chapter of Ezekiel--someone who was unlikely to have any preconceived notions about the true status of the writing. That chapter would not be the Word of God to that person. So not every word in the canon is the Word of God to every person at all times. For many people many of the words are totally irrelevant much of the time. In order to be the Word of God for a person, it must be relevant to the person.

Better yet, take almost any chapter of Leviticus. How relevant to the man on the street would most such chapters be?

Ultimately I'm asserting that the Word of God involves action of God on his creation accompanied by a response on the part of some portion of that creation. Both elements are necessary. If there is no response, it was not the Word. The Source (Christ) does not become the Word until he interacts with some targeted portion of the creation. Until he interacts he remains strictly latent, as before the Big Bang--still a Person but not yet the Word. (I then interpret John 1:1 as designating the one who was to _become_ the Word as the Word, making use of hindsight. If the world had never come into existence, he would not be the Word. He existed before creation, but he was not the Word before creation.)

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Murphy
  To: richard@biblewheel.com
  Cc: Don Winterstein ; Gary Collins ; asa@lists.calvin.edu
  Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2004 1:39 PM
  Subject: Re: The Whole Bible Revealed in Zechariah (was Re: NT truth (formerly inerrancy?))

  richard@biblewheel.com wrote:
>
> Hi Don,
>
> Thanks for the additional clarification. Most of your post concerned the
> fact that the phrase "Word of God" often means *more* than just Scripture. I
> don't know why you bothered writing all that, because I said exactly the
> same thing in my last post! Let me repeat. There seems to be three
> fundamental referents to the phrase "Word of God" in Scripture, which are
> often conflated:
>
> 1) The Eternal Living Word: the Lord Jesus Christ
> 2) The Power of God manifest physically
> 3) The Written Word: sometimes individual Scriptures, sometimes the whole
> Bible.........................................

  I am jumping into the middle of this discussion because I think that there are
  important points being missed.
  1st, a serious discussion of this topic can't be confined to occurrence of the
  precise phrase "Word of God" in scripture but must be sensitive to ways in which clearly
  related phrases are used. E.g., the creation account of Gen.1 never uses the phrase
  "Word of God" but the creative effect of "And God said ..." is clearly related to it.
  2nd, 1) & 2) above are not distinct. It's clear, e.g., that the language of
  Jn.1:1-18, which is the classic text in which Christ is the Word (but not, N.B.
  literally "the Word of God") is related to the powerful creative "word" of Gen.1.
  3d - a point frequently ignored - the oral proclamation of the "Word of the
  LORD" by the prophets and the proclamation of Christ is the Word of God. The apostles
  were proclaiming Christ, and thereby effectively bringing about faith, before the NT
  scriptures were written. See, e.g., Rom.10:9-17, especially the last verse.
  4th, God's Word is accomanied by God's Spirit: Irenaeus called them the two
  "hands" of God.
  5th, recognition of the Bible as, in an appropriate sense, the Word of God does
  not determine the literary genre of any of its parts.

  I take the liberty to quote here (as I probably have before) part of Article 2
  of the constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - not because I think
  that that status must compel acceptance but because it's a a very good statement of the
  different aspects of the _one_ Word of God. (Karl Barth's treatment of the topic makes
  similar distinctions.)

  "a. Jesus Christ is the Wor1d of God incarnate, through whom everythin g was
  made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.
  b. The proclamation of God's message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word
  of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in
  creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the
  person and work of Jesus Christ.
  c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the writtn Word
  of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and
  announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks
  to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world."

  & again I emphasize that these are not 3 different Words of God but 1: Jesus
  Christ is proclaimed on the basis of Scripture.

  Shalom,
  George

  George L. Murphy
  gmurphy@raex.com
  http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
Received on Tue Jan 13 05:01:15 2004

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