Constitution or Conversation? (RJS)

I am reading Brian McLaren’s new book A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith as part of a book group in discussion with University students and scholars. One thing about this book – it makes a great conversation starter. McLaren nails it with his ten questions. These may not be the only questions confronting  Christians, but they are certainly among the most significant.

The second big question posed by McLaren, The Authority Question, is one we have posed and considered from multiple directions on this blog: What is the nature, role, and purpose of scripture? I will give a set of links later in the post for those newer to the blog who would like to read some of the earlier conversations, for now this post, The Bible and Knowledge 2, gives a sketch of my current thoughts on the nature and role scripture. Scot’s book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible considers the same questions and fleshes out his thoughts on the subject.

McLaren, from a background as an English teacher and pastor, sketches a similar, perhaps useful, approach to scripture. He emphasizes scripture as community library and conversation, contrasting this with the view of scripture as constitution. The Bible is “the library of a culture and community – the culture and community of people who trace their history back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (p. 81) We get into trouble when we read scripture as constitution – we need to enter the story.

… revelation doesn’t simply happen in statements. It happens in conversations and arguments that take place within and among communities of people who share the same essential questions across generations. Revelation accumulates in the relationships, interactions, and interplav between statements.  (p. 91)

Is the idea of the authority of scripture in conversation and community library a helpful one? What are the benefits or potential shortcomings?

More on this approach, taking it a little further:

To say that the Word (the message, meaning, or revelation) of God is in the biblical text, then, does not mean that you can extract verses or statements from the text at will and call them “God’s words.” It means that if we enter the text together and feel the flow of its arguments, get stuck in its points of tension, and struggle with its unfolding plot in al its twists and turns, God’s revelation can happen to us. We can reach the point that Job and his company did at the end of the book, where, after a lot of conflicted human talk and a conspicuously long divine silence, we finally hear God’s voice. (p. 19)

If the Bible is revelation through conversation and community library how does this impact the way we view the story and the elements of the story? Among other things, McLaren suggests that it can mean that the revelation of the nature of God is imperfect in places, and this accounts for the portrayal of God as violent or capricious or one among many in parts of the OT. “[F]or Christians, the Bible’s highest value is in revealing Jesus, who gives us the highest, deepest, and most mature view of the character of the living God.” (p. 115)

I am intrigued by the idea of the Bible as conversation and community library. This is consistent with the idea that scripture is the lamp that reveals God – not the foundation on which we stand. I also like the idea that the Bible’s highest value is in revealing Jesus – we should have a Christ-centered reading of both OT and NT. It is interesting though, part of McLaren’s argument against other views of scripture, especially the constitution view, is that they allow scripture to be twisted in a horrible fashion. Examples are seen in the use of scripture to defend slavery and support war. I don’t see how McLaren’s approach to the Bible as conversation and community library is any less prone to interpretation through the lens of human wish-fulfillment. In fact, it seems as though McLaren molds his interpretation to fit his conception of God, and his conception of Jesus. This is not unique. Calvin used accommodation to accomplish a similar goal – if a passage seemed to reveal a God that did not fit Calvin’s conception of God (eg. God changing his mind) it is an example of accommodation – God accommodated his revelation to human perspective (see his commentary on Genesis 6 for a particularly pointed example). With McLaren, if a passage doesn’t present the proper view of a God of peace, love, and justice – then it is an immature picture of God. We are working toward the mature view.

At times Biblical interpretation seems something of a quagmire where soft ground and traps abound. This is overly cynical, but still there is an ever present danger of reading into the text. We must rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit – not an objective, incontrovertible, written word.

What do you think? Is the view of scripture as conversation and community library useful? Is there a way to approach scripture that allows it to be what it is – and is immune to interpretation as human wish-fulfillment? Or is this danger just part of the package as we approach scripture from a finite human perspective?

Some previous posts on scripture as authority (there are probably more – but this is a start):

Bible and Authority Revisited 2

Bible and Authority Revisited

God Science and Evolution

The Primacy of Scripture and The Fall

The Bible and Authority

The Bible and Knowledge 5

The Bible and Knowledge 4

The Bible and Knowledge 3

The Bible and Knowledge 2

The Bible and Knowledge 1

Enns, Sparks, Arnold and Chapman on the OT

If you wish to contact me you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

  • http://www.travismamone.net Travis Mamone

    When I first read “A New Kind of Christianity,” I thought the idea of the Bible being an inspired library was interesting, but it’s only now that I’m just starting to understand what it means.
    As McLaren points out, the Bible has been (mis)used to condone things like the Crusades, slavery, sexism, segregation, etc. And I think we are still in the process of figuring out what God really says about issues like the environment and social justice.
    As far as revelation through conversation, I think Job is a good example. You have two people who interpret God’s will in two very different ways, until finally God shows up. Of course God doesn’t exactly explain why Job went through so much pain; instead He reminds Job and his friends that no one can fully grasp His will. And that’s what I’m starting to learn now.

  • Scot McKnight

    RJS,
    The model of “library” is very useful, though the word “cultural” needs some unpacking. Overall, McLaren hit an important note here.
    What concerns me is Library vs. Constitution, when the second term is one no really wants because it is a negative stereotype of how law works. I wonder what our lawyer readers — Opderbeck, T — think of McLaren’s analogy and description of what a Constitution approach to the Bible looks like.
    So, I think there are other models to explore or a bigger one, and Story works more comprehensively and accurately for me. Library can give off the impression of totally unrelated books while Story gathers into its chapters the books and gives them a running plot and goal.

  • http://mysticallimpet.blogspot.com Travis Greene

    “With McLaren, if a passage doesn’t present the proper view of a God of peace, love, and justice – then it is an immature picture of God. We are working toward the mature view.”
    It’s a little more sophisticated than that, isn’t it? He’s not talking just about parts he doesn’t like, he’s talking about earlier descriptions of God that seem to conflict with the way of Jesus. I don’t think it’s any different than Jesus himself saying “Moses allowed X because your hearts were hard, but the truth is Y”.
    Scot, that is a good point about Story vs Library, but perhaps the Library image (when used alongside others) can help us not neglect those micro stories that seem to contribute nothing to the Big Story. Specifically I’m thinking of the wisdom literature, but I’m sure there’s more.

  • Scot McKnight

    Travis, yes the Library image does that. I tried to do that with “wiki-stories” of the Story. We need to invigorate the diversity of the Bible.

  • http://www.donheatley.com Don Heatley

    While I appreciate the library vs constitution imagery, it too can become a bit of a quagmire. For some Christians, the Bible is a library, but only of reference, history and science books in which one can look up correct answers. As far as the constitution metaphor goes, it too can be problematic as I’m sure some of our lawyer friends will point out. In the US, we continually debate whether our own Constitution should be interpreted as “originally” intended or whether it is a living document. In my own experience, people tend to approach one (the Bible or the Constitution) the way they approach the other.
    However, overall, I find McLaren’s imagery helpful and thought-provoking.

  • RJS

    Travis (#3),
    McLaren’s view is a bit more sophisticated that the brief one line sketch, and so is Calvin’s. But I still think that both fall into a trap of allowing an external, even philosophical, idea of the nature of God determine the bin into which different scriptural passages are placed.
    With respect to McLaren’s view – I am not as confident as he seems to be in the ascent of mankind, and this plays heavily into his model. His analogy to childhood and adulthood (they were children, we are adults (or at least adolescents)).

  • http://mysticallimpet.blogspot.com Travis Greene

    RJS @ 6,
    It’s a good point – once you start bracketing stuff you don’t like, it can be dangerously easy to sculpt the text (and God) into something of your own design. But I think that’s why we need a Story-directed interpretation, as Scot describes. The folks earlier in the Story didn’t know as much about the Main Character as we do. That’s not about some kind of humanity’s-march-of-progress narrative, but about God’s unfolding progressive revelation of Himself, culminated in Jesus.
    Frankly, I don’t know how else one can read the OT. God starts with the bare minimum with Abraham (Hi, I’m God, let’s hit the road) and gradually reveals more of himself (gives Moses the Law, then later speaks of a more complex ethics through the Prophets). It’s not about ignoring parts we don’t like (all those genocidal narratives and stories about polygamy are still Scripture for us), but about letting the New Testament have the last word.

  • Andrew

    With McLaren, if a passage doesn’t present the proper view of a God of peace, love, and justice [as opposed to a God whose wrath for sin is expressed sometimes expressed violently] – then it is an immature picture of God. We are working toward the mature view.
    “[F]or Christians, the Bible’s highest value is in revealing Jesus, who gives us the highest, deepest, and most mature view of the character of the living God.”
    The God of the NT still has wrath over sin, just like in the OT (search for wrath of God in the NT) and he still shows mercy and grace just like in the OT. Interestingly this Jesus, who is one with the Father submitted to the wrath of the Father over sin (and violently at that). Jesus accepted the cup. If he is our “mature view of the character of the living God”, then why is wrath over sin a problem?
    It seems like McClaren like to make God into an image he finds palatable and not the God who is revealed very similarly in the OT and NT and in Christ. That’s not to say that revelation doesn’t unfold and reveal more, but it seems it is in substantial continuity.
    Finally, the ‘genocidal narratives’ referenced in an earlier post as one that could be bracketed out because we don’t like them and view them as immature. They aren’t genocidal in the sense that one race kills another because of ethnic superiority. Caananites were destroyed because of their sin. God did the same to Israel when they became an unjust society (and broke covenant), and whatever scheme you use to interpret Revelation, a picture is given of God again wiping out the wicked during the apocalypse. Again, regardless of how your interpretive scheme takes Revelation, here is a late, ‘mature’ picture of God again wiping the wicked out.

  • EricG

    An interesting analogy for McLaren might be the common law — i.e., the judge-made law that applies to things like torts and contracts where there is no statutory or constitutional provision. The common law is developed over time by Judges as they address new cases with their own set of facts (new “stories,” if you want to call them that). They try to relate the legal principles they apply in new cases back to cases with different sets of facts but similar legal issues, using the prior cases as precedent. It is a messy process, and there are obviously some errors (after all, it is a very human process), but we’d like to think justice is served.
    And there has been somewhat of a push to see Law as “story” — Ed Rock at U Penn wrote a law review article on the development of Delaware corporate law as “story.” His point, if I recall correctly, was that legal principles weren’t some abstract propositions to the Delaware judges who decided the cases. Instead, over time they developed some guiding principles out of the complex web of facts in each of the complex cases, or “stories,” they considered.
    I’m not saying it is a perfect analogy, but it might be closer to how Mclaren views the Bible.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    “Is there a way to approach scripture that allows it to be what it is – and is immune to interpretation as human wish-fulfillment?”
    As it is impossible to read any text without interpretation and our desires, thoughts, and views will shape that interpretation even if we strive to be “objective”, I would say the answer to that question is ‘no’ — at least as individuals or any culturally (and temporally) homogeneous group. The only way it seems to me that we can have any true confidence that our interpretation of scripture might be accurate is to check it against the interpretation of the whole community of the church stretching back through time. Either the boundaries and shape of the intended and true interpretation have been preserved through time by the body of Christ (noting that the NT radically reinterprets part of the OT in light of Jesus of Nazareth) or we don’t know and can’t know what it means anymore. A text as rich as ours can be interpreted in as many different ways as there are people to interpret.
    I haven’t read the book, but if Brian’s perspective is that the ancients were immature and we are more mature, I’m a little surprised. That seems to me like a variation of the Enlightenment narrative. It’s also manifestly untrue. Life was hard and often brutal in the ancient world, so it is true that many had to be more focused on day to day survival. However, I don’t see how anybody who has read Lao-tzu, Confucius, Siddhartha Gautama, or (though I’m less fond of them) Plato and Aristotle could believe that narrative. Within Christianity, I don’t see how anyone could read St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, St. Isaac the Syrian, or any of a host of others and believe we are somehow more mature in our interpretation and understanding of God.
    I guess I just don’t buy either the idea that we can somehow “recover” an interpretation or understanding of Christianity that was “lost” as some point or that we can now “better” interpret the texts than those in the ancient world could.
    In some ways, I think my point is similar to the one it sounded to me that Scot was making about attempts to construct a “historical” Jesus. As with Jesus so with the rest of the text. You can’t somehow get “behind” the Church and discover a “better” interpretation of the Scriptures than that preserved within and by the Church. Now there’s a lot of latitude within that interpretive framework. But if you discard that framework, you aren’t going to find anything better. You’re just going to find yourself.

  • DRT

    In a calvinistic sense, the bible has become an idol to many and I personally like the nuance and commentary of contitution as idol in the US and Bible as idol in the US. In that sense I think BM captured the dynamic of current conservatives to make idols of both the bible and the US constitution. I don’t think it is a commentary for all time, but for now I like it for the US culture.
    I like Story, but I think BMs audience for this book is not one who Story would have the appropriate impact. Let’s face it, most people out there will never be able to read the bible and understand it as a story. Instead they are going to read part of it in isolation and another part in isolation and try to understand what the isolated parts mean. A favored method right now is to take a single verse out of context and call that the word of God. Library gives people the opportunity to at least try and form an impression about a book. It may inspire them to read a whole book in the library and try and see what that book is saying. Story may be fine for us, but for most it is too broad to think of a book of the magnitude and diversity of the bible as a story. Perhaps some day.
    Dave

  • dopderbeck

    Actually in some ways I rather like the idea of the Bible as a sort of constitution. A constitution is a founding text that lays out basic principles and norms to guide the subsequent development of the polis. The concept of a “centered set” of norms I think is very resonant with much constitutional theory. A constitution doesn’t purport to say everything that can be said, but it is the basic text to which the community returns again and again in order to learn the basic principles of citizenship in this community. A constitution also isn’t the community’s only source of norms – I like EricG’s (#9) reference to common law here — but it is the “final” or “ultimate” norming norm.
    Of course, the resonance of this analogy might depend on how you interpret and view the role of the U.S. Constitution. I’m neither an “originalist” nor a “penumbralist” when it comes to Constitutional hermeneutics, and I suppose I try to occupy a similar middle ground with Biblical hermeneutics.
    Captch: methods command (a presuppositionalist captcha!)

  • http://evangelicalmonk.webs.com Bill

    From a legal perspective, the comparison/contrast would seem obvious when you understand a constitution is the foundational document as to the relationships between governing authority and the populace, as well establishing fundamental relationships between members of that nation/state (arguably a master social contract – there were significant influences from Locke and Hobbes I believe at the time of the drafting of the US Constitution). Hence, I read McLaren as suggesting that indeed Scripture should not be seen as providing any sense of foundation; rather its usefulness is as an important resource. So the comparison seems appropriate. It is what McLaren does in the development of this library concept that is crucial. I also resonate with the idea of Story (I note the capitalization which seems to me to allow for the re-introduction of a sense of constitution).

  • Faith

    I think that McLaren makes a very helpful distinction when he uses constitution vereses a community conversation with a cultural library. (it leaped at me) Constitution gives the conotation of law and leads us to law. I think the idea of a library and conversations lead us to being shaped. In our country, we made laws but they do not always change hearts. I think the scripture aims at the heart… and stories have shapeing power targeting the inner motivations that do not require the enforcement of the law. The story sets forth visions of reality that capture us. I think as a community is shaped by that story, the vision takes root and we begin to live and embody it.

  • Rick

    Do we think Jesus saw Scripture as a constitution, or community conversation?

  • Kenny Johnson

    I’m wondering what impact McLaren’s view of library rather than law has on church discipline. Does it remove any authority from the Bible for correcting and rebuking?

  • RJS

    Rick (#15),
    I think the answer may be a combination of the two. Parts of the OT are interacted with in a way that is clearly closer to constitution, but with other portions the interaction seems more like community library, the common heritage and community story.

  • Matt Edwards

    My thoughts on this chapter: http://awaitingredemption.blogspot.com/2010/03/brian-mclarens-authority-question.html
    I think RJS raises the key issue–how does McLaren’s hermeneutic avoid the problems he sees with the constitution view?
    Also, McLaren’s system works better with Job than it does with most of the Bible. What do we do with the Gospels? Is Jesus merely a “dialogue partner”? What do we do with the writings of Paul? How would Paul have responded to the Galatians or the Corinthians if they wrote him back, “Interesting thoughts. We will consider them.”
    McLaren presents a false dichotomoy. Wooden literalism is not the only alternative to Bible-as-library. There are other hermeneutics that take the genres of the biblical literature seriously while preserving the authority of the Word of God.

  • Rick

    RJS #17-
    You may be right. But how we answer that question (how did Jesus see Scripture) will tell us how far we can go in a certain direction. And, obviously, we should also take into consideration the other Apostles and writers of the NT, plus the early church fathers.
    We need to be careful here, and thinking we can come up with a new method, or one that has been hidden for thousands of years, can be dangerous.

  • http://krusekronicle.typepad.com Michael W. Kruse

    If Scripture is a conversation, then I want to suggest that it is not a conversation among equals. The conversation is between teacher and students, or mentor and apprentices.
    The early church did not select the canon because these books were written by God, nor because of the authority of the human authors. They settled on these books primarily because they were the books that carried strong authority across the breadth of the Christian community. The Christian community did not give these books their authority but rather surrendered to the authority these books carried.
    While I get McLaren’s idea of a conversation, and I think its helpful, I think we need to keep in mind the nature of the conversation.

  • RJS

    Nice post Matt. I hope others also take a look.
    I also think we have to recognize a difference in genre, context, and intent when looking at the old and new testaments as inspired scripture. It seems to me that they are not the same. Your post, and Michael’s comment (#20) gives a good description of some unique features of the NT books.
    The OT is different, it covers a much larger range of forms, contexts, intents, and genre. It seems to me (as an amateur not expert) that the OT also shows a more significant influence of editing and overlayed voices (not to say that there is none in the NT – only that it is more significant in the OT). All of this needs to be taken into account as we read scripture as part of our library, constitution, Story.

  • dopderbeck

    Matt I enjoyed your post too, but I still am left wondering: is the focus of genre studies and so on really all about “original intent” of “authors” — very modernistic categories to apply to scripture? I think one thing McL et al. try to get at with the “library” and “conversation” concepts is that texts are not statically fixed forever by their “authors.” Each generation of readers contributes to the “meaning” of a text. Obviously, this is a pomo view of texts, but I think it has some merit, especially with respect to scripture, for which there is (IMHO) both an “organic” (intent of the original “author”) and “dynamic” (intent of the Holy Spirit speaking through the text to the community of faith) aspect to scripture as “revelation”.
    But still, I think this organic-dynamic understanding of texts can apply to a “Constitution” as well. We can’t (IMHO) read the U.S. Constitution today as if we are 18th Century White Male Elite Landowning Federalists, but we also can’t simply ignore the Framer’s original ideas and words.

  • http://mysticallimpet.blogspot.com Travis Greene

    dopderbeck,
    Your understanding of “Constitution” probably isn’t what McLaren has in mind when he contrasts constitution unfavorably with community library. I suspect he’s thinking of something more like a contract.
    I think one thing we’ve learned is that, like with the atonement, no one understanding/metaphor is enough. The image of community library, while helpful, needs to be balanced by other images. Constitution (or maybe something more like the Declaration?), manifesto, comic book origin story, family photo album, manger that presents Christ to us…and in some ways, yes (though it makes me puke a little to say it), instruction manual.
    Anything that will help us actually read, meditate on, wrestle with, and live out the text.

  • Katy

    I find it interesting that God never gives us the key to open all doors. He always—whether through prayer, Bible reading, decisions in life, tragedy, etc—leads us to dependence on the Holy Spirit.
    We are responsible to find the context of a verse to the text, to the book, and to the Bible as a whole, but we’re vulnerable to error any time we feel we can discover the truth with only our three pounds of brain. The Bible does seem to be set up to be interactive, to be richly dug into and discussed, but always with a dependence on the Holy Spirit to reveal the Truth. I think you touched on that. I just find it fascinating that the corner on Truth is always God’s, never one a person or a group can own.

  • RJS

    Travis,
    I think that McLaren uses Constitution in much the same way Scot uses the idea of scripture as morsels of law and as a jigsaw puzzle to map the mind of God. But the problem with the analogy to constitution is the one dopderbeck brings up. A constitution is also a living, interpreted document. It has to be.
    Matt,
    I don’t think my previous comment made quite the point I want. I think that McLaren’s proposal that we look at scripture as community library has a good deal going for it as we look at the OT and even the way that the OT is used in the NT. This doesn’t mean that there is no Law (of elements of constitution) within the text (there certainly is), but the overall collection is a diverse group of texts of different form, purpose, and construction.
    The NT is different – the books of the NT were selected by the church based on criteria of apostolic authority, anchored in a point in time. There is a reason why it is just these and not others. But this still doesn’t mean that the correct interpretation of the NT always a simple literal acceptance. I think this connects somewhat with Scot’s posts on historical Jesus studies – as a church we start with the NT, especially the gospels, as authoritative in a way nothing else is.

  • M J King

    The Bible, along with Jesus, is NOT our foundation? Are those your words or McLaren’s?

  • RJS

    M J King,
    I am not quite sure what part of the post you are referring to.
    God is the foundation on which we stand – Father and Son and Spirit. The Bible is not our foundation, it is a lamp that illuminates our foundation. That is my claim – I rather expect McLaren would agree, but they are not his words.

  • http://evangelicalmonk.webs.com Bill

    RJS and MJ King
    The parsing seems to be a little fine on that point. The Scriptures would seem to at least part of the foundation as opposed to being merely a lamp that illumines. I suspect McLaren would agree with that point, and argue that the Scriptures are but 1 lamp among many that could illumine. If I am tracking with Scot’s use of Story, then Scripture would seem to be the revealing of the Story as told by the Trinity. So while Scripture is not The foundation, it surely must be seen as at least embedded in the foundation.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    MJ King, I’ll note that the Holy Scriptures support what RJS is saying. Ephesians 2:20 says the Apostles are our foundation and Christ is the chief cornerstone. 1 Timothy 3:15 describes the church as the pillar and ground of truth. I’m not aware of anywhere in the Scriptures themselves where they describe themselves as our foundation. Nor will you find that idea anywhere within the context of most of Christian history and tradition. Jesus is our foundation, specifically Jesus as proclaimed by the Apostolic teaching. There are religions in which a sacred text is the foundation of the religion, but Christianity is not one of those religions. None of which is to say that the Holy Scriptures are not extremely important. The gospels especially are an icon in words of Jesus. And the rest of the NT is our chief source for the apostolic teaching. It truly is a lamp of illumination.

  • http://kingwatch.co.nz/Church_Ministry/prayer_and_authority.htm RonMcK

    Library is a concept that appeals to academics, but for most people libraries are dull boring places to be avoided.

  • Kenny Johnson

    @RonMcK
    As a future librarian, I’m offended! ;)
    Actually, I never got the image of a library as boring. I have always loved libraries. Full of “free” books, music, movies, computers, magazines, newspapers, etc. But I guess if you don’t love media, then yeah… But I love all media: listening to music/audiobooks, reading, watching movies, etc.

  • Matt Edwards

    Dopderbeck #22,
    You are right; the risk in historical critical studies is overconfidence in one’s ability to find an objective interpretation of a text. I think we have had this conversation before and I am still processing it.
    In some cases, we are dealing with anonymous authors, multiple authors, or texts that were compiled over time, so “authorial intent” is of questionable relevance. But in other cases we have letters written by a recognizable author (say, Paul) to a person or Christian community that is clearly under his spiritual authority. I don’t feel that searching for authorial intent is imposing modernist categories to an ancient text. In many cases (and I’m thinking of reading Paul here), it is looking to those who have gone before and who have recognized authority for interpretations of our experience of the Spirit.
    Maybe the importance of authorial intent varies from book to book. How important is authorial intent to the meaning of Psalm 23? Not that important IMO. To Romans? Very important.

  • Matt Edwards

    RJS #25,
    You may be on to something here. If you look at the Book of Jeremiah, it seems to have taken a life of its own. Who knows what the “original” form was. If you accept JEPD, then the ancient Jews had no problem adding or taking away from a text to fit the needs of a changing community.
    But the church seems to have acted differently. They looked for continuity with the teachings of the apostles.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    The basis for Christian acceptance of the OT as scripture is also based on apostolic authority because Jesus (and the Apostles) said and taught that they speak of him (John 5). So from a Christian perspective, the framework of interpretation for the OT remains the lens of Christ. Of course, the question of canon becomes messier when you expand it to include the OT, especially since “canon” as such was not a first century Jewish or Christian concern. Both weren’t troubled by variations in texts or have strict rules about which texts were and weren’t included.

  • http://www.theproblemwithkevin.com kevin s.

    I don’t honestly find the distinction particularly useful. It seems like a paradigm that is sufficiently vague so as to support whatever theological viewpoint to which we adhere in the first place.
    Also, when we visit a library, we fail to check out the majority of the books. So the analogy is experientially problematic

  • RJS

    Scott (#34),
    We accept the OT on apostolic authority in the sense that it is the scripture that Christ came to fulfill and as such tells out story. But it is still different than the NT and is used differently within the NT. It is authoritative, but I think McLaren’s suggestion of “community library” hits a real chord. So does the idea of Story and Mission of God.
    Captcha “upwardly energy”


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