Friday, March 13, 2009

Always have a reason for the hope that is in you

Some day I might figure out my doctrine of Scripture. Can one be saved without a doctrine of Scripture? I am not sure I am interested in this problem focused here by Mike Heiser. But it is a curiosity. John Hobbins has been helping. He focuses several additional issues: textual criticism, the outer limits of the canon, and how we are to derive ethics from scriptural foundations. If I felt the need to write about the writing of Scripture, I would want to distinguish the God who uses these words from the words on the page that I might like to take control of.

I am, in the Scripture, in a very large space, a 1000 year span of early literate effort. It is large to me, but small in comparison with the 1000s of other scrolls that were also produced. I am filled with things I must do in my current life. I do not really have time to do an exhaustive study of ancient times. I am not in control of any of these words nor of the myriad of other books that I read. What then do I need?

In a word, I need 'contact'. Face to face, voice to voice, whether in the body or out of it I do not know. Or if I think I know, I dare not say, for fear of being misunderstood.

Let's take Jonah and the gourd. Jonah had pity on the gourd which rose in a day and faded in a day - because he found it good for shade. But Jonah had no pity on his enemies at Nineveh. I need this story - because I can easily be piqued when my convenience is disturbed. I don't know of other books that tell me such stories. But there are canonical stories in other traditions that I also possibly could apply in a similar fashion. Is the Bible better? Is this Jesus only here? (I think those who say there is no salvation for others should think twice about that statement.)

So the Bible is good to me because through it I have found my face to face and voice to voice. But these words are not the face or the voice exclusively. They are sufficient and they are mine - appropriated by me, but there are truths outside of them that also are God's truths. They are necessary for me and I am, through them, his who bought me, but other ways may bind others for whom these words were not available. And these words may bind some in ways that are not salvific! But the one who allows them to be so bound will also untie them and bind them to himself - by the same word of promise.

In other words - a doctrine of Scripture may turn out to have been unnecessary or only marginally helpful.

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