Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Newbigin on the Authority of Scripture

I've been reading Lesslie Newbigin's Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel in Western Culture and I was struck by this brilliant quote in chapter 3, regarding the way that so many of us, as formal or informal Bible scholars, approach Scripture with attempts to preserve meaning in a religious sense, without regard for the interaction with accuracy and fact as it pertains to science and history:

"The scholar examines the text but is not, in any profound sense, examined by it. If he is a believer, he will draw from the text illumination for his own faith. But his faith does not rest on the authority of the text. It is rather that he perceives a congruence between the faith to which the text bears witness and his own."
Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel in Western Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986), p. 47.

It is hard to overstate how accurate and prophetic this quote is in our day. I see this in my own life. And as a pastor I constantly encounter the frustrating truth of this set of circumstances in people around me, both within and outside of the church. I could list some examples (I would only have to look back a few weeks to fill the page), but I'm not sure that would be profitable or the best way to move in the right direction.

What would it look like to be "examined by the text"? What are the ways that your faith is not resting on the authority of the text, but merely shares some congruence with it?

The more we can consider this question, the more we shall be re-made in His image, rather than re-making Him in ours.

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