Saturday, May 10, 2014

Contains or is. . .

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess 2:15).

While no one denies that after the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, the Word of the Lord was a voice, a spoken proclamation of the death and resurrection of our Lord.  The apostles as eyewitnesses to Christ, His death and His resurrection were the voices through which the Spirit spoke this Word into the hearts of the hearers to bring forth faith.

Some continue to dance around what it means to call the Scriptures, the Bible, the Word of God.  Some call it symbolically the Word -- the Word is in the Bible but the Scriptures do not constitute the full definition of that Word of the Lord.  Some would insist that the Bible contains the Word of God but is not coterminous with that Word.  Evidently in this view some things are the word of man -- leave it to the scholar to tell us which is which.  Some would say that Scripture is indeed the Word of God but Tradition equally a source of apostolic teaching and truth.  Others have a somewhat mechanical view of things -- as if God bypassed all human trait and quality of those whose pens flowed ink on the page.  Still others have a dynamic understanding in which God works through the personality, experience, and character of the person with the pen, the Holy Spirit guiding the human author to write the Divine Word.  Still others speak of the Word of God as being something so great and beyond all knowing that we have only the barest part and shred of that mystery contained within the Scriptures.  I could go on and on with the various opinions that have been offered to define what it means to call the Bible the Word of God.

What matters, however, is that the New Testament affirms its own identity and the self-understanding as the Word of God, without distinguishing between the character of that Word whether by word of mouth or letter.  At least that is Paul's perspective.  Would that we might spend as much time and energy listening to the Word as we do debating what is or is not the Word of God, how the different forms might be distinguished, and what value we assign to them. 

II Timothy 3:16  "All Scriptures is inspired by God..."    
II Peter 1:21  "No prophecy is by man's invention by comes from the Holy Spirit"  
I Corinthians 2:13  "We speak not our own words but that which the Holy Spirit has made known..."
John 17:17  "God's Word is Truth..." 
John 10:35  "Scripture cannot be broken..."
II Timothy 3:15-17 "...Scriptures make known the salvation which is yours through faith in Jesus Christ...that you may be holy and equipped for good works..."
John 5:39  "Search the Scriptures for in them is eternal life for they testify to Jesus Christ..."   
John 20:31 "These are written that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and by believing you may have life in His Name"

From the earliest days of Christianity, the Scriptures have been called the Word of the Lord, treated with the highest devotion and respect, understood as the Word that speaks and bestows what it promises, is different from any other book or word, and is God's own self-revelation and self-disclosure through which He is known and in which the Spirit is at work to make Him known (faith).  It is so very tiring to hear the endless debates by those who claim to be scholars trying to nuance and dissect Jesus from history, Christ from His Word, His Word from human words, and truth from myth, fiction, or presumption.  What have we gained from the ink and paper and digital discussion?  Are we any more informed or certain about the truth that saves?  Is the preacher better equipped for the pulpit by the outflow of doubt, skepticism, and denial?  Is the faith enhanced before the faithful or before the world?

I am a simple person.  I am no great intellect.  I want to know Jesus.  The Word (written word of Scripture and the oral proclamation of that Word) and the Sacraments are the means through which the Spirit works to make Jesus know to me and the Father whom Jesus reveals.  Reason can be a tool of God but it is not the basis of our believing and, in the wrong hands, it becomes an instrument of doubt, arrogance, and idolatry and therefore an enemy of the faith.  Reason, intellect, and will are by the Spirit's work captive to the Word. 

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