I’ve been influenced by all sorts of people: Michael Spencer, John Goldingay, Peter Leithart, Chris Tilling, Telford Work (whom I quote below), Wolterstorff, John Halton, Wright, etc. Those in the know might see them below. The particular recipe is mine, though. If I’ve ruined their perfectly good tomato by plopping it into a mess, forgive me.
Anyway, when it comes to scripture I’ve come to believe…..
1) …neither scripture nor scripture’s God is respected when we determine beforehand what God must have given to us as scripture without bothering to discover what was, in fact, given. A truly ‘High View’ of scripture takes scripture into account in its pronouncements on scripture.
2) When our expectations/commitments require that we work to make scripture conform to some outside standard or seek to validate scripture by evaluating it against some outside standard, then that standard (and not scripture) is revealed to be our true and final canon.
3) The ‘authority of scripture’ is shorthand for the ‘Authority of God exercised through scripture.’
4) Scripture’s validation as authority isn’t the result of testing against some outside standard, but arises from the role it played in forming the crucified and risen Messiah- both in the creation and preservation of the people through which he came, and in the formation of his person, and his subsequent authorization of the apostolic witness.
5) Scripture ought not be treated as the foundational doctrine that undergirds all other doctrine; the gospel of Christ is the proper beginning point for theology- including Bibliology.
6) Jesus Christ is the very Word of God; all else is imperfect shadow, and there to point us to him.
7) Scripture shows that one can be zealously committed to scripture and miss God.
8 Scripture ought not to be viewed as the realization of some necessary foundational epistemological need- a source book for theology, for example, but (like, maybe, the Ark of the Covenant) as something God actually and freely elected to use in the redemption of creation.
9) Scripture participates in the restorative mission of the Trinity; ‘its beginning in the will of the Father, participating in the kenosis of the Son, its empowerment as a means of the work of the Holy Spirit, and its work in Israel, on and in Jesus’ career and in the church go far beyond the category of witness or the affirmations of propositional inerrancies.’- Telford Work
10) Contra the godly and brillant Warfield, scripture does not solely bear witness to events that are complete in themselves, but itself is intertwined with these events so that none is imaginable without the other. Again, scripture is more than a depository of ‘true data.’ It is a living and active player in the drama.
11) Scripture uses the terms ‘God’s word, canon, authority, revelation,’ in regards to diverse and individual portions of itself, but never in reference to scripture as a whole. That seems significant; scripture refers to itself as ‘scripture.’
12) ‘God’s word, canon, authority, revelation’ are helpful when understood as models of scripture as a whole.
13) ‘God’s word, canon, authority, revelation’ are distorting when we forget that they are only extra-biblical models.
14) Scripture considered as a mass printed, bound and individually owned ‘Bible’ is an anachronism when read back into scripture.
15) Scripture is more than a set of writings; it is a tradition(s) that created, preserved, interpreted and reinterpreted the writings.
16) There is no scripture apart from the community that created, preserved and is continually (re)formed by the tradition that is scripture.
17) The tradition that is scripture is continually renewed and reformed by that community: the church.
18) All of the texts of scripture were written by human beings- really, honest-to-god written by human beings- and are touched by all that implies about human writings being ‘situated’ artifacts.
19) A scriptural Mariology is helpful in grasping the indispensability of both the election and empowering of God for the advent of God’s Word and the radical human participation in that advent. It is probably not a coincidence that those traditions that have no Mariology are likewise afraid of any human element in scripture that matters as a human element.
20) An incarnational analogy (especially as developed by Athanasius and Augustine) is helpful in affirming the total and completely divine reality of scripture and the total and completely human reality of scripture. The human reality of scripture in no way denies or weakens the reality that it is equally ‘God’s word;’ a high view of scripture does not require that we deny any of scripture’s human realities.
21) Scripture itself offers ‘efficacy’ and ‘relevancy’ as the defining attributes of ‘God’s word;’ modernity understands ‘accuracy according to modern historiographical and scientific expectations’ as the defining attributes of ‘God’s word;’ these are not identical.
22) Speaking positively of scripture (it is trustworthy, reliable, etc) is preferable to speaking negatively of scripture (it is inerrant).
23) We have many trustworthy relationships and friends. None of these people are inerrant in the popular sense.
24) Divine discourse is not identical with Divine Revelation.
25) Relationships aren’t most naturally spoken of in terms of truth or error claims; rather we speak of faithfulness and unfaithfulness, etc. Speaking of scripture only in terms of truth/error is a (revealing) category mistake in that not all or even most of scripture makes truth claims. A poem isn’t true or false; a command isn’t true or false; nor is a promise, nor encouragement, admonishment, etc.
26) In a related way specific statements of scripture must be understood in terms of the God who is revealed in the face of Christ. Augustine’s Rule of Charity is right to place divine ethos over the ‘locutionary’ claims of specific texts. Jonah’s divine pronouncement that Ninevah would be destroyed in forty days is clearly false if considered as a truth claim proposition, but absolutely true in the context of a God whose property it is to always show mercy. Jonah knew this, and this is what pissed him off.
27) I Timothy 3:16 does not imply the standard of Modernity; it specifies the aim of scripture as the transformation of men and women into Christ’s image. This seems in keeping with the scriptural expectations of God’s word. Scripture’s efficacy lies in the Spirit’s use of it to effect his purposes.
28) St. Paul’s neologism, ‘Breathed out by God,’ is possibly (likely) an allusion to God breathing life into the lifeless dust that would become Adam. This seems relevant to how we envision God’s supernatural empowering of the sacred writings.
29) Humanity’s need is not educational; humanity stands in need of a new heart- not accurate information; the unique efficacy of scripture is found in the transformation that comes from an encounter with Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit; it is not primarily informational or educational. Scripture is confrontational.
30) God speaks outside of scripture. God’s word faithfully preached, for example, is the identical effectual word of scripture; the difference between scripture and other instances of God’s word is found in God’s unique election of scripture to be both the appointed place of his speaking, and the formative canon of all other instances of his humanly uttered word.
31) Scripture is not a blueprint for any endeavor- whether parental, financial, governmental, marital, etc.
32) Scripture is culturally situated. We must be careful not to canonize the cultural situation into which God spoke.
33) Being faithful to scripture does not mean rotely conforming to a specific directive or example of scripture. The Christian life is one in which we faithfully, corporately and maturely improvise on the theme of scripture’s story. The Xian life is jazz.
34) An understanding of the historical situation into which God spoke is necessary to understanding what God meant to say.
35) Scripture is made up of diverse genres, and this matters when it comes to interpretation.
36) ‘Simply reading it’ from where we stand is likely a misreading. Not all of the utilized genres or literary conventions are familiar to the modern reader (i.e Creation Narratives, Midrash, Apocalypse, or Greco-Roman Biographies, etc) The cultural, literary and cosmological conventions into which God spoke when he ‘authored’ a text, ought to guide us as to how a text should be read… or not read. Versions of inerrancy that do not take this into account (beyond the requisite but inconsequential acknowledgement of the fact) stand in the way of proper exegesis. Such a practice reveals a low view of the scripture that God saw fit to give us.
37) Jesus is the end of the Old Testament in that he has the accomplished what it sought to do. It is in his person (head and body) that God now does what was once done by the scriptures of the Old Testament
38) The ‘Divine Inspiration’ of the text was not accomplished via dictation.
39) The ‘Divine Inspiration’ of the text does not lessen or trivialize the human process of a ‘situated’ and ‘conventional’ creation of the text. Scripture shows that the ‘Divine Inspiration’ of the text is not usually a process operating on or through an individual prophetic figure; it is a communal affair- often involving mundane inquiry, writing and redaction.
40) Proportionally affirming the reality of the human dimension of scripture is inadequate, if it has no ramification for how scripture may or ought to be studied.
41) There is a wide potential spectrum of ‘superintendence’ over the production of any text. There are likewise many possibilities regarding how a text might be ‘authored;’ these range from the actual writing of the text to standing behind another’s text; whether we write the love letter with our own hand or pass our beloved a fortune cookie’s crookedly printed slip, speech has truly occurred. Signatures on contracts, the singing of hymns and the entire Greeting Card Industry are all based on the reality of adopting another’s writings as one’s own. So is sacred Scripture.
42) Scripture presents God’s speaking as taking place in various and differing ways; a high view of scripture as Divine Discourse does not require that any particular path be taken in the production of scripture. It just doesn’t. Scripture itself denies this. God has spoken though vision, dreams, musicians, compilers of foreign wisdom literature, amateur investigators, etc, etc
43) Scripture contains theological diversity and development. It is the whole of scripture that is canonical. Ecclesiastes doesn’t replace Proverbs; it assumes Proverbs; likewise hope of resurrection assumes the bleak truth of Ecclesiastes.
44) If the Canon allows for such diversity, then Christ body ought to welcome it as well- within the boundaries of The Received Tradition.
45) Because of God’s election and empowering presence, scripture is much more than just a book, but it is never less than a book. In order to read scripture well, one must read well.
46) The ‘Quadriga or something like it’ is necessary for a proper Christ Centered reading of scripture. We ought to wish to know 1) ‘what happened’ in the text? 2) what does this reveal of Christ? 3) what does this mean for my vision and behavior and 4) what does this lead me to hope for?
47) Truth is first and foremost found in a person. Though propositions are necessary, they inadequately capture Deep Down things. There is much truth that is tacit and inexpressible.
48) All knowing is rooted in faith commitments. This is no more true of Christian theology than it is of Physics. This should be embraced.
49) All learning depends upon submission to an authoritative tradition. Though these traditions are inevitably inadequate and inaccurate in some way, they are necessary and should not be begrudged or denied. This is true of the scientific academy; it is true of scriptural exegesis and the church.
50) Scripture is BOTH man’s witness and response to the work of God AND God’s work and word to and for the world. Christ (head and body) is the cardinal midpoint of both these movements, and so the church finds itself uniquely situated in the creation and work of scripture.
51) Both Israel and the early church meant something other than ‘Canon’ by the phrase ‘Scripture.’
52) To read Canon in the sense of ‘a closed and determined list of inspired and authoritative texts’ back into the early church is a distorting anachronism. Neither the Israel of Jesus day (or before), or the early church was ‘Canon Conscious’
53) ‘Inspiration’ was not the sole or primary criterion for the inclusion of a text in the Canon.
54) The creation of a/the Canon (in its modern textual sense) is an instance of late Patristic tradition (for which I am grateful.)