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If the Bible is Damaged, How Do You Repair It?


As we speak we proceed our playful romp by way of Kent Sparks’s latest e-book Sacred Phrase, Damaged Phrase: Biblical Authority and the Darkish Facet of Scripture.(The first put up is right here and the earlier put up is right here.)

In chapter 10, “Listening to the Range and Unity of Scripture,” Sparks begins to tie collectively the earlier chapters and transfer towards a extra constructive development. In different phrases, he’s been speaking about what the Bible is, and now he’s going to begin speaking extra about what we’re alleged to do with it.

Or, to place it one other approach, Sparks goes to begin cleansing up the mess he’s made (which he all the time supposed to do.)

On the primary web page of this chapter (p. 103), Sparks asks,

[I]f Scripture speaks the reality by way of perceptive but warped human horizons…then how can we use it to weave a helpful and coherent understanding of God and of his relationship with us? How can the BIble, as a various and damaged e-book, function a major supply of our theological perception?

Humorous it’s best to ask, Kent, ’trigger I’m fairly certain some readers are asking the identical factor. [By the way, for those of you who wind up reading this book for yourselves, you will probably find that Sparks eventually gets to the question you are asking. He’s great at anticipating the next point.]

On this chapter Sparks begins to reply his query by outlining no fewer than 9 (that’s 9) bullet factors. We may camp out on every level for a day or so, however we gained’t. I simply need to get the factors on the market with minimal clarification.

1. Biblical interpretation is a “two-step” course of that honors the distinction between Scripture as human and divine discourse.Historic criticism and theological (confessional) readings of Scripture want to speak to one another.

2. Searching for theological coherence in Scripture (a operate of its divine discourse) doesn’t cowl up, obscure, or clarify away the theological variations in Scripture.Respect the distinction between Scripture’s “God-talk” (first-order phrases from God to humanity) and “god-talk-talk” (mistaken, second order human accounts of what God supposedly mentioned).

3. The brokenness and variety of Scripture don’t negate its important unity.This isn’t a God-imposed unity regardless of the range, however an acknowldgement that the human authors and editors of the Bible have been “modestly systematic of their efforts to current a coherent theological image.”

4. The form and substance of the biblical story explicitly level us to Jesus Christ, who’s our theological precedence in biblical interpretation.Biblical interpretation finally coheres within the particular person and work of Christ, together with when Jesus himself units apart Outdated Testomony laws.

5. In giving precedence to Christ in biblical interpretation, we’re reminded of the brokenness of Scripture and the necessity to distinguish between “God-talk” and “god-talk-talk” (see #2 above).Christ is the important thing to assist readers distinguish between what in Scripture factors us in acceptable and redemptive instructions and what bears witness to a damaged human state of affairs.

6. #5 doesn’t imply that these parts of Scripture that bear a damaged ingredient will be put aside. Slightly all biblical texts, witness really and explicitly to what’s theologically true.Even Canaanite genocide passages conveys a deep perception of the traditional Israelites that God is holy and simply, even when it was communicated in a damaged approach.

7. Given #s 5 and 6, one can consider Scripture as a set of texts that direct and push us in an acceptable course when taken as a canonical complete.Not each textual content ought to be taken as the ultimate phrase.The place some texts transfer us too far in a single course, one other turns us again.

8. “Progressive revelation” is an effective and correct class for understanding the Bible as an entire. God’s persevering with dialog with humanity step by step unfolds throughout the rising contours of historical past, though this doesn’t result in supersessionism (dismissal of earlier phases), or the notion that what’s chronologically later essentially improves upon what’s earlier.

9. A wholesome use of Scripture ought to acknowledge that good theology can not rely upon Scripture alone. Two examples: Copernicus and the nature of the cosmos, and the immorality of slavery. Shifting Past the Bible is critical for good theology, and is modelled for us in Scripture itself.

In his subsequent chapter, Sparks picks up on this final thought and fleshes it out a bit extra. We are going to get to that quickly.

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