Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bible as Word of God essay

I am currently working on an essay titled "What do we mean when we say that the Bible is the Word of God?"

The central issue that I think needs to be dealt with in the essay has very much to do with our conception of the nature of the Bible. Unless we know what this strange book is, we have not really started doing business with it.

There are many recent sophisticated theologies over the nature of the Bible which I wish to have the luxury to engage each of them further and deeper:

Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation.

Mark D. Thompson, A Clear and Present Word.
Justin S. Holcomb, ed., Christian Theologies of Scripture.
N.T. Wright, The Last Word.
Clark Pinnock and Barry L. Callen, The Scripture Principle.

Craig D. Allert, A High View of Scripture?
William P. Brown, ed., Engaging Biblical Authority.

Ken Sparks, God's Word in Human Words.
Ben Witherington III , The Living Word of God.
G.K. Beale, The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism.
A. T. B. McGowan, The Divine Authenticity of Scripture (a.k.a The Divine Spiration of Scripture).
Richard B. Gaffin, God's Word in Servant Form.
Markus Bockmuehl and Alan J. Torrance, Scripture's Doctrine and Theology's Bible.
Jeffrey S. Oldfield, The word became text and dwells among us? (Ph.D Thesis at St. Andrews University).

Stephen J. Nichols and Eric T. Brandt, Ancient Word, Changing Worlds.
Timothy Ward, Words of Life.

This wide resurgent of interest on this question is signaling to us of its urgency and prominence in our contemporary religious experience. Over the broad landscape, I have chose to focus on two particular persons whose thoughts over this issue that I deem to possess much needed resources for consecutive development in the discourse on the Bible's nature: (1) Rowan Williams, (2) Wolfhart Pannenberg.

However, it is difficult to engage them because neither wrote substantially on this topic. Yet it is not too difficult to learn about Pannenberg's view as Frank Hasel's Scripture in the Theologies of W. Pannenberg and D.G. Bloesch provides tremendous help. As for Williams, there is only John Webster's article in Scripture's Doctrine and Theology's Bible. So I have to go through Williams' other writings to pick up relevant parts to form a more complete understanding of his thought; like picking up jigsaw puzzle pieces from different places in order to piece them back together:

On Christian Theology. 2000.

‘Historical Criticism and Sacred Text’, in Reading Texts, Seeking Wisdom, ed., David F. Ford and Graham Stanton, UK: SCM, 2003).

Tokens of Trust. 2007.

'The Bible Today: Reading & Hearing'. (The Larkin-Stuart Lecture). 2007.

Why these two persons? Their thoughts on this issue is oriented in the public dimension of Bible's nature without assuming the unsustainable top-down divine inspiration, and so the scripture's inspiration can be examined by hitting on one or two verses here and there in the Bible, but by the overall, in Williams' word, "movement" and "directedness" of the Scripture that navigate the Christian community. Hence both are similarly a "from below" approach (Pannenberg) and do not need to entertain inerrancy in the Bible from cover to cover.

1 comment:

reasonable said...

What do "we" mean by Word of God:

1. who are the "we"?

2. how about writing something about "What SHOULD we mean when we say the Word of God" in addition to "What do we mean...." ?