Friday, November 24, 2006

Personal Statement of Belief - Scripture

My dad did one of these awhile back, and I vowed that one day I would as well. The current extension of my contract at Holyrood forces me to contemplate what my statement of belief is in earnest, as I will be submitting one in an accredidation process to begin shortly.

Today I came across a paragraph in W. Sibley Towner's commentary of Daniel which summarizes very nicely what I think about the article of the Bible as scripture. He got it from the United Presbyterian Confession of 1967.

It reads: "The Scriptures, given under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless the words of men, conditioned by language, thought forms, and literary fashions of the places and times in which they were written. They reflect views of life, history, and the cosmos which were then current. The church therefore, has an obligation to approach the Scriptures with literary and historical understanding." Or as Towner puts it, we need to build a "hermeneutic bridge...between ourselves and the biblical writers".

In my own words, I believe that the word of God (which is divine and perfect) has been incarnated by the language of humanity (and therefore subject to errror and the structures necessary for us to comprehend it). Thus, in order to understand it, one must use both mystical/spiritual approaches (prayer, meditation) as well as very academic ones, such as historical and literary criticism.


  1. sounds like a mystic/sage approach to me.


  2. I'll buy that.

    You might also want to have a look at a recent statement by the Primnate's Theological Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada. It's not a full statement on scripture, but it has some good things to say.

  3. Well, obviously the whole thing didn't make it onto the comment line! Email me and I'll send you the URL.

  4. Is this just a beginning of a series of your statement of belief?

  5. Nope. Not a series. Not at this point anyhow. Maybe when I've got the rest figured out. But I was stoked about the quote and wanted to share it.

  6. That's a pretty good quote, it sums up about where I believe on the subject as well. And you're obviously a heretic for not using the term "inerrant" in your belief on scripture :)

    Something I've been reflecting on latley is why God would choose human authors. Is it because this allows scripture to illuminate Godly truths from human points of views? Would God's direct writing not make sense to us? Why not avoid human error and contextualization and just drop divine texts out of the sky?
    Is it so that we must act on faith?

    My studies of scripture latley have been on Jesus's correcting people's wrong-headed ideas (being sick means God hates you, the sabbath is a weapon, unclean, focusing on who's in and who's out etc.) and I wish we'd be corrected again and then I start to wonder how much misguidedeness then and now could have been avoided if God was the sole author of scripture, if God just gave us pan-cultural, divinly etched scriptures free from human trappings.

    Kind of wondering about the "why" of this bridge, what purpose does it serve, what larger need does this gap meet.

    My students always ask me why there's no book of Jesus and I always tell them it's because Jesus had better things to do then write, like healing people and loving people and setting himself up to be sacrificed for our sins, but now I'm starting to wonder the same thing.